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Incredible Portrait Comprised of 20,000 Tea Bags by Red Hong Yi

Artist-architect ‘Red' Hong Yi creates stunning works of art without the help of a pencil or paintbrush. Instead, she uses unconventional materials to form larger-than-life portraits that are impressive in both their technique and scale. 20,000 stained tea bags make up her most recent composition featuring a “teh tarik man,” which is a common scene in her native Malaysia. “Teh tarik” means “pulled-tea” in Malay, and it's a sweet and milky drink served in local cafes that becomes frothy when poured between two containers. The piece depicts a man performing this routine as well as cans and a shaved ice machine that are usually found in these places, too.

As you might imagine, creating this scene was no small feat. Red individually stained the teabags in 10 different shades by steeping them in hot water. Their color varies by the temperature and amount of water used, while the darker tones were made with food dye. The tea bags were then stapled and attached to wiremesh and hung from a wooden frame.

Red's artwork is enjoyable to view from both near and far. Up close, you can marvel at all of the individual pieces while the entire scene is revealed with some distance. She spent two months creating this portrait, and it was on display at the World Economic Forum this past January.

Above photo credit: @jeremyblodephotography

‘Red' Hong Yi website and Facebook page
via [designboom]

Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met, Manager of My Modern Met Store, and co-host of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.
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