Last Updated on May 21, 2022 by John Moretti
Aging paper can be perfect in the run-up to throwing a pirate or Harry Potter party. The old-style paper can bring a Dickens’ touch to Christmas decor. A brown splotchy letter carries a romantic air. It also makes an excellent last-minute craft activity if all you have is coffee, little patience, and children bouncing with an abundance of energy. It’s a simple project with plenty of modification options.
Aging paper with coffee is a straightforward process. All you need is:
- Baking tray
Once your items are gathered:
- Fill the pan with the coffee
- Crumple the paper
- Straighten the paper
- Dip the paper into the pan with coffee
- Remove the paper
- Leave to dry
Aging paper with coffee can be done in a few ways, and the above is only one example. Also, there are other tricks that can add some “authentic” touches. Generally, the quality of coffee used has no impact on the end result. However, the quantity can affect project time and the intensity of color. But if you use instant or ground coffee depends on the method. However, leave the milk in the fridge.
Creating Antique Paper With Coffee
Creating an antique paper is a fast and easy project that can be done for your own creative pursuits or to keep children from climbing the curtains.
You must have the following three things:
The paper can be standard printer paper. If you want to use something else, ensure it isn’t too thin. That beautiful, almost tissue-like writing paper is not a good choice.
In regards to the coffee, as mentioned above, you do not have to use the good stuff to do this project. So feel free to go cheap and cheerful. But remember, both filter and grounds will have their use.
When selecting the pan, ensure it has a nice raised rim all around. Also, it will need to be bigger than your paper, preferably enough that you can easily dip a finger on any side of the sheet without hitting the edge of the pan.
Lastly, there are some optional supplies you may wish to use:
- Paper towels
- Painting sponge (or piece of clean sponge)
- Lighter or candle
How To Age The Paper
Before you dye your paper, you need to age the texture. Coffee will only add color. Which technique you use to age your paper will depend on the look you wish to achieve. Sometimes you may want to use more than one.
Method 1: Tearing The Paper’s Edges
To give your antique paper an authentic touch, gently tear away the edges, creating a border. If you are concerned you’ll tear too far, use a ruler to draw yourself a “do not tear past” line to follow.
Method 2: Cutting The Paper’s Edges
If you want your old paper to have the air of an aged, formal document or scroll, take scissors and soften the border, and round it with gentle waves.
Method 3: Burning The Paper’s Edges
A classic aging method is to burn the edges. This does best with a lighter or candle, rather than a match that could burn your fingers. You need to do it slowly and with care. Think “singe” rather than “light on fire.” Get ready to blow should it catch alight. You are trying to smoke the edges, really, not cause flames.
Method 4: Fully Crumpling Paper
Crumpling paper is one of the easiest ways to age it.
- Crumple it into a ball
- Wait for a minute
- Flatten out the best you can
Method 5: Partially Crumpling Paper
Documents tend to get their sides rumpled, but often the middle only has a straight crease or two from being folded. So for this method, you try to keep the inner part of the paper mostly untouched and simply crumple it at the corners.
It’s almost like making origami folds that go a little bit wrong.
Method 6: Don’t Crumple The Paper
One dyeing method works best if you don’t crumple the paper. You can still age the edges, but otherwise, leave it smooth and flat.
How To Dye The Paper With Coffee
After aging the paper’s texture, you need to give it that old-timey color. Each method gives it a different look.
Method 1: The Pour & Splat Coffee Dye Method
The pour & splat method will give your antiqued paper an overall yellowed look, with small scattered dark spots.
- Make a cup of coffee
- Place the paper in your pan.
- Pour your coffee over the paper, tipping the pan if you need to spread it
- Take instant coffee crystals and sprinkle them over the paper
- Wait for 1-2 minutes
- Gently blot the paper until all excess coffee is removed
- Remove paper and dry
Method 2: The Steep Coffee Dye Method
This steep method is easy and produces a gently aged overall color.
- Pour coffee into the pan
- Place paper in the pan
- Wait 1-3 minutes
- Gently remove
Method 3: The Paint & Stamp Coffee Dye Method
The paint and stamp coffee dye method works best if your paper has not been crumpled. However, pre-aging the edges is fine.
- Have a cup of coffee and a paintbrush ready
- Place your paper on a surface you don’t mind getting wet (like a pan)
- Paint your paper with the coffee. Run the brush from one side to the other, keeping the strokes even, until the paper is covered
- Allow the paper to dry
- Once the paper is dry, place it on a dry surface, you don’t mind getting wet (like a pan)
- Place a small clean cup of water next to your work surface
- Take a paper towel and place a scoop of coffee grounds in the center
- Gather up the ends of the paper towel around the coffee, making a parcel
- Tie it up
- Now you have a stamp
- Dip your stamp into the water, squeeze out the excess, then begin dabbing the paper
- Cover the paper as desired with your stamp. The more you dab, the darker the effect
- Once it is dry, you can then crumple it if desired
How To Dry Coffee Dyed Paper
Drying paper can be done in several ways. However, try to keep it flat. If you hang it, you might get marks from the clothes pegs, and the color may run down, concentrating at the bottom.
- Transfer paper to a dry pan and leave to dry
- Place pan in an oven warmed to 200 F for up to 5 min (do not walk off in case of fire)
- Place on pan or towel and run a blow dryer over it on low
- Wait until partially dry in the pan and then place between two hand towels and run an iron over the top towel
Once your antique paper is fully dry, you can add any further decorations you wish.
Aging paper with coffee is easy. Have fun with the various techniques and methods and see which result you love the most.