I've been crafting since I could hold a paintbrush, and I love to repurpose random things. My arts & crafts articles are on this subject.
Create Faux Leather Out of Teabags and Wet Wipes
I was looking for a unique junk journal cover idea. I’ve used teabags for a number of arts and crafts projects and decided to play around with them to achieve a faux leather appearance.
In this tutorial, I will show you how to make a basic brown faux leather sheet, but you can make your sheet any color your heart desires by using different pigments. I’ve tried turmeric for a yellow tint, different acrylic paint colors, and even food coloring to achieve some variety.
You Will Need
- Used teabags
- Wet wipes (the thicker ones work best)
- White runny glue
- Instant coffee or black tea
- Acrylic paint or food coloring (if you want to make colors other than a coffee or tea stain brown—optional)
- Shallow tray
- Soft brush
Step 1: Remove the Tea Leaves From the Teabag
Lay your slightly damp teabag down. Carefully cut and remove the string. I use small sharp point nail scissors to avoid cutting the teabag paper.
Open the teabag and gently wipe the tea leaves away with your fingers until you have removed most of it. Avoid using a brush because the teabag can tear easily while it is wet.
Allow your teabag to dry. Once it’s dry you can wipe off the remaining tea leaves. You may get away with using a soft toothbrush when the paper is dry.
Process Gallery: How to Open and Clean a Teabag
Step 2: Color the Wet Wipe
The wet wipe forms the base of this project and decides what color your faux leather sheet will be. I started by soaking the wet wipes in black tea or instant coffee to get that traditional brown leather look. However, you can paint or stain the wet wipe any color you want.
Coffee or Tea Stain
Mix a jug of strong instant coffee or black tea. Soak your wet wipes until they are saturated. Then lay them out to dry.
Paint or Food Coloring
Wet the wipes and lay them down flat. They don’t need to be soaking wet, but some moisture helps to preserve the wipe if you paint it with a brush. It won’t tear as easily. Wetting the wipe will also help the food coloring to spread more evenly.
- If you use acrylic paint: Simply paint the wet wipe until it is covered in color. Water-based paint works well.
- If you use food coloring: Spread a few drops of color on the wet wipe and spritz it with more water if necessary, to spread the color evenly.
Examples With Different Paint Colors
Some spices like turmeric will give you a bright stain as well. Tumeric gives you a beautiful golden color.
Step 3: Assemble the Sheet by Adding the Tea Bags
In a shallow tray, mix 1 part white runny glue with 2 parts water and spread it out evenly.
Once the colored/stained wet wipe and the teabags are dry, lay the wet wipe in the glue mix and saturate it.
Place the teabags on the wet wipe and allow the glue to soak into the teabags as well. The glue mix will adhere to teabags to the wet wipe.
How Much of the Glue Mix Should I Make?
You want just enough glue mix to cover the wet wipe. I find that a tablespoon of glue with 2 tablespoons of water is usually a good measure, but this ratio may depend on the size of your wet wipe.
My wet wipes are 6.6 inches by 7.7 inches (19.5 cm by 16.8 cm) according to the packaging label. I used 4 overlapping tea bags to cover the wet wipe.
Process Gallery: Assemble the Faux Leather Sheet
Step 4: Create the Faux Leather Appearance
Once the wet wipe and teabag sheet is completely dry, peel it away from the tray and trim off any glue that bled off to the side.
Carefully roll the sheet length-wise and scrunch it in your hands before you unroll it. Repeat the roll but start in one corner and roll the sheet to the opposite corner. Repeat the roll and scrunch from the other two corners.
By rolling and scrunching the sheet, you are creating creases similar to the wrinkles you see in natural leather. Continue to roll and scrunch in different directions. Eventually, the sheet will be soft enough to scrunch into a ball.
Step 5: Dry Brush for Extra Contrast (Optional)
This is an optional step, but I like to dry brush my faux leather sheet for extra depth and contrast.
- Once you are happy with the number of wrinkles and folds in the faux leather, spread it out flat and smooth it down with your hand.
- Dip a dry brush in shoe polish or paint.
- Brush off any excess on a scrap piece of paper.
- Lightly brush over the peaks of the faux leather wrinkles.
Examples of How I Used DIY Faux Teabag Leather
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Celeste Wilson
Celeste Wilson (author) on May 14, 2021:
You are so welcome Peggy. Thank you
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on May 14, 2021:
I love your creativity! Making the appearance of faux leather using teabags and wet wipes sounds like a fun project. Thanks for the detailed instructions.