Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Tutorial Tuesday: Aged Paper

I spent last week devouring Jane Eyre. I am not a big fan of cutesy Valentine’s Day romance, but tragic, gothic victorian love affairs are definitely my style. This week, I’ll show you how to create the base for your own gothic love letter: aged paper.

This method involves first thoroughly soaking the paper, then drying it in a warm oven. I like baking the paper after staining it because it adds great texture and a fragile quality. It’s important to have your paper cut to the desired size, otherwise you’ll end up with an undyed edge where the cut is made. The paper will curl when first removed from the oven, but pressing it for a day or two under a heavy book will fix this problem.

For this project you can use either tea or coffee. Using tea will result in a fairly subtle light brown or beige colour, while coffee creates a darker, greener stain. If using coffee, I suggest adding a bit of vanilla extract to the soaking liquid to offset the weird smell.

This aged paper works wonderfully for any project! I made some tags using this method (with coffee) and screen printed little rabbits on them with my gocco. I think this would also be great for creating a treasure map for your kids (or pirate-obsessed grown-ups).

Skill level: Very easy


a pot of strong black tea or coffee, hot or cold

paper (white or patterned) cut to desired size

flat bottomed glass cake pan (8” x 8”, or 13” x 9”, depending on the quantity of paper)

foil lined cookie sheet

an oven


Heat oven to around 250 degrees F and brew your tea (or coffee) if you don’t already have some cold stuff ready.

Pour your tea (or coffee) into the cake pan and submerge your paper. Allow them to soak for about 5 minutes, or until completely permeated by the liquid.

Carefully remove the paper from the pan. Arrange the pieces on the foil lined cookie sheet. Make sure that the pieces do not touch each other. Let them sit for a couple of minutes.

Bake in the oven for about two minutes. Keep a close eye on them and USE CAUTION! They will dry out quickly, and I certainly don’t want you to have a fire! Take the cookie sheet out and gently lift the paper off the foil . This allows the bottom to dry evenly. Return baking sheet to the oven until the tags are completely dry, about one to three minutes more.

Remove the aged paper from the oven. Allow it to dry for an hour or two, then press under a heavy book to flatten.

You can embellish the paper with stamps, burns and ink splotches. Use a calligraphy pen to write your note. If you’re really enthusiastic, seal the letter with a wax seal, or tie it up with a ribbon and drop it into an old bottle. Your gothic Valentine’s Day love letter is ready to give to your beloved.

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