We’ve previously discussed the many uses of a tea towel beyond drying the dishes. But several of our customers have since come up with more adventurous ideas. Alternative applications for the humble tea towel have in fact existed since the rise of its initial popularity in the 18th century as a tool to dry the bone china dish sets of the English upper classes.
Here we give a rundown of a few more ‘radical’ uses for the kitchen tea towel:
As a shepherd’s head dress in your child’s nativity play
Normally better to use a striped or cross-hatch design for this one… unless these shepherds are devotees of the anarcho-syndicalist movement, of course.
As a flag at a demonstration
Shepherd or not, there’s nothing preventing you from attaching your tea towel to a stick and using it as an alternative to those socialist worker placards at your typical demonstration.
As a canvas for your next Van Gogh imitation
Strapped for cash and unable to get his brother Theo to send him more canvas quickly enough, Van Gogh resorted to the tea towel as a base for his creative genius. Some tea towel paintings date from Van Gogh’s time in the mental asylum at Saint-Paul-de-Mausole in Saint Rémy de Provence, and it is speculated they came from the asylum’s kitchen. Later works were painted on tea towels with a red border, possibly from the kitchen of the Auberge Ravoux in Auvers, the small village to the north of Paris where Van Gogh spent the last two months of his life before shooting himself.
Since we started out, many people have come to the conclusion that our radical tea towels are just as good up against the wall as on the draining board.
Apparently, you can get some decent frames cheaply from IKEA that don’t do a bad job of fitting the tea towels, which measure approximately 48cm wide by 76cm in length (the half panama cotton ones are slightly shorter at 73cm length).
At one point we thought about offering a framing service at the checkout stage on the website, but decided we’d probably be better concentrating on making tea towels than cutting chunks of wood and going about the float glass process.
The pictures below aren’t the first examples of tea towels being used for wall-hung art. Late in his career, an impoverished Van Gogh often ran out of conventional and expensive canvas, and had to think of alternative bases for his paintings. A still life with flowers by Van Gogh, painted on a tea towel, sold for £2.1 million at auction in 2000.
Who knows, perhaps in the future radical tea towels will fetch such sums as rare artefacts from the early 21st century!
Ask anyone’s advice on having a good conversation with someone you’ve just met, and they’re sure to advise you to steer clear of the danger topics of politics, religion and Paris Hilton. Well, that’s ok because you’re not really interested in politics anyway and would rather stick to less controversial topics like the health benefits of tea (oh yeah and Scottish independence, right?).
But what if it’s not you making that choice? You’ve just met your girlfriend’s father, and he insists on rabbiting on about how President Obama faked Bin Laden’s death in order to distract from a nose job. How you handle these moments early on could make the difference between a healthy relationship with a new acquaintance or years of awkward water cooler conversation.
We love finding radical tea towels in unusual places. It’s common to find people have framed Gandhi and put him on the wall rather than dare to get the great pacifist wet!
Nathalie Ramirez Anderson, an English teacher at the Mary Erskine School in Edinburgh, Scotland, has taken the tea-towels-as-posters phenomenon to a whole new level – and we heartily approve. She pinned up a total of eleven radical tea towels on her classroom wall, and they make quite a sight (seven visible):