Why is this wrinkly piece of brown-ish paper with the silhouette of a tea bag on it so important?
Because I made it light sensitive! This used to just be an ordinary piece of cotton based paper. But I soaked it in silver nitrate, let it dry, then exposed it to light with a tea bag sitting on top and the image appeared. The silver nitrate made the paper light sensitive. After that I soaked the print in a potassium iodine bath and it turned this yellow/brown color. The potassium iodine will keep the image fixed and permanent for a while but not forever. This is a method invented and discovered by William Henry Fox Talbot. He called it the “photogenic drawing.”
This Historical Processes in Photography class is going to be awesome.