It came to me in a dream
It's not out of left field. I have the doll heads; they were the subject of my photographic series Secret Keepers which exhibited some years go. They were also the inspiration for and the stars of my second film, Apotheosis. The tea bag concept came from my friend, artist Ann Laser. She makes fine art from tea bags, an exquisite celebration of tea, peace, and personal connection.
With those disparate images in mind, I awoke as if I were a 10 year old on Christmas morning, and it might very well have been. On that late April morning, Santa Fe was shrouded in more snow than we had seen all winter. Still in my pajamas I went outside to feel flakes on my face and watch hummingbirds drink their morning nectar. The contrast made me even more giddy, and for me the more giddy I feel the more productive I am.
With the heat turned up in my studio, which doubles as our formal dining room, I gathered the dolls and the tea bags. An avid tea drinker, I save bags for Ann and they accumulate quickly. Well represented are traditional tea bags that bring to mind Lipton and Red Rose but are mostly Trader Joe's brand. There are also many round bags and from Harney & Sons, Teavana, and Shangri La: exotic triangular silk bags. Those prompted me to give one of my models a Mohawk.
Playing With Dolls
I fashioned a couple prototypes only to discover that dolls, like humans, are sometimes not cut out for a particular hair style. Nor are tea bags made to sit obediently on doll heads,
especially those without hair. As with many projects there were disasters, although I hesitate to call playing with dolls a disaster.
Because it was snowing, diffused light from the windows was perfect for portraiture. Once everything fell into place each of my subjects sat very still. The tea bags behaved as well, in no small part to tape and pins.
It turns out the triangular bags did not shape Joe Joe’s Mohawk. They were too elegant for his taste. One of them was going to be a “hat” for sophisticated Gertrude but I ended up topping her beehive with a shriveled flowering tea. Perhaps when summer arrives and I become giddy because cacti are flowering, I’ll dream of how to style the fancy silk bags.
Here they are, in order of appearance:
Bessie with Tea Cup Hat
Joe Joe’s Mohawk
Ernestine as Princess Leia
Giselle’s Favorite Beret
Gertrude’s Beehive and Chapeau