Learn how to age paper in this quick and easy tutorial using tea or coffee.
Learning how to age paper with tea was something I learned when I was a kid. And I remember it being very easy to do. The inspiration came back to use this age-old technique in my DIY vintage Christmas art I wanted to make this holiday season.
In the tutorial below, you’ll learn how to age paper with simple tea and coffee. It only takes 5 minutes, which works out well if you’re coloring many sheets. You’ll also see how I used the gorgeous aged paper to make my DIY Christmas art.
Coloring the paper in this project reminded me of my how to stain/color canvas using gift wrap tissue paper tutorial I did a couple years back. It’s another nifty way to color paper and canvas.
First let’s go over some common questions around aging paper.
How do you make paper look old with tea?
The first method is steep your tea bags in hot water for 1 minutes. Then use the tea bags directly on paper (tutorial below). You can also use a paint brush dipped in the tea steeped water for an extra precise look.
If you want a blotchy look, dab the tea bag in the same area a few times to get a darker color in some areas. To get a smooth, even coloring, use a sweeping up and down motion (like you’re painting) to spread out the stain more evenly.
If you want a darker stain, you can always add another layer or two.
Another tip is to add some extra tea on the edges/sides of your paper. This will naturally make the paper look more vintage and aged.
Once you’re happy with the look, leave laying flat to air dry.
Alternatively if you don’t want to bother staining the paper yourself, you can fill a cookie sheet with steeped tea water then lay the whole sheet in the water for 2-3 minutes. Then take it out to air dry.
How Can You Age Paper Fast?
The longest part of this project is letting the paper dry once you’re done staining it.
If you leave to air dry, it may take a 2-3 hours to dry (depending how wet the paper is). But if you’re in a rush, you can quickly dry your paper by baking in oven for 2 minutes at 200 degrees. Just be careful and keep a close watch on it so it doesn’t start to burn or over-dry ( which will make the paper brittle and crack).
How do you color paper with coffee?
Another way to stain paper is to use coffee instead of tea. To do this you’ll need to diute 2 tsp of instant coffee in 1/4 cup hot water. Once dissolved, use a paint brush or paper towel to paint on the coffee liquid onto your paper.
Alternative you can pour the coffee in a cookie sheet, then soak the whole sheet for 2-3 minutes. Take your paper out to air dry.
Is Tea Stained Paper Archival?
Short answer is no. Your paper will no longer be archival quality because black tea contains a substance called tannic acid. Although it contains very small amounts of tannic acid, it’s enough to remove the archival and acid free quality of the paper. Something to be aware of if you’re hoping to create a heirloom piece that you’d like to remain intact for generations.
If you do want to preserve your aged paper for generations, one option is to seal it. I’ll show you how I sealed mine on canvas in the project below.
Aged Paper Ideas And Projects
You can use aged paper in a variety of crafts. Some ideas are scrapbooking, in art journals, card making, in canvas mixed-media art and even some home decor DIY’s- which is what I did.
I wanted to make a DIY Christmas canvas art with my favorite holiday song – Silent Night. So I printed out the lyrics here.
So I first printed the lyrics music sheet above on a normal inkjet black and white printer. It came out black & white so I wanted to age the paper for a vintage look.
Next I aged the paper (instructions in the tutorial below). Once the paper was aged and dry, I cut it to the size of my canvas.
I then placed my aged paper ontop of the glued canvas and pressed down to remove all the air bubbles.
Once the paper was in place, I used the same sponge brush for a layer of Mod podge overtop the paper.
I let the first layer dry ( 20 minutes) then repeated this 2 more times, and let it fully dry.
Once dried you have a beautiful DIY Christmas sheet music art piece! It would make a gorgeous vintage addition to your Christmas holiday decor!
Below is another DIY I made by aging a printed book page from the Harry Potter book. I made this for my sister in law who loves this series. I ended up painting Hedwig the owl over top of the paper to make it extra special. Which is another idea you can do with your aged paper.
The sky is the limit with this craft!
How To Age Paper with Tea/Coffee Tutorial
- Black Tea (or instant coffee granules)
- hot water
- paper towel
- small bowl
- Steep 1 tea bag in some hot water (just enough that it's steeping). Let steep for 1 minute. For coffee dissolve 2 tsp coffee in 1/4 cup hot water
- Lay your paper down flat on a solid/flat surface. You might want to put a piece of cardboard underneath so that the tea doesn't stain your table.
- Take your tea bag right out of the bowl (be careful if its hot) and squeeze out some of the excess water by dabbing it a couple times on a paper towel.
- Now take your tea bag and blot it onto the paper. Repeat blotting until the whole paper is covered. This will give a splotchy/blotted look. If you want smooth even aging, instead of blotting, drag your tea bag down in smooth up and down strokes (like you're painting). For coffee take your paper towel and dip in coffee and apply to paper.
- When your paper is done, leave it to dry for 2-3 hours. If you want it right away you can dry it in the oven for 2-3 minutes at 200 degrees (keep a close eye so it doesn't burn).
- (Optional) Once your paper is dried, take it in your hands and crumple it for extra aging effect.
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