How to Make Paper Look Old

Eight Methods:Crumpling and DampeningPaintingSolvent (tea, coffee, OJ) and Baking it in the ovenCoffee and HeatFlameElectric StoveDirt in the YardPrintable Template

Old paper has a mysterious charm. Here are several methods for making common paper appear artfully antique and damaged.

Method 1
Crumpling and Dampening

  1. Image titled Make Paper Look Old Step 1
    1
    Crumple the paper.
  2. Image titled Make Paper Look Old Step 2
    2
    Uncrumple the paper and spritz it with liquid. You can use water, cooled tea or coffee, or orange juice.Note that water will not give the paper an "old" look.
  3. Image titled Make Paper Look Old Step 3
    3
    Shape the paper. The dampness will make the paper easier to handle. You can tear off edges, remove small circles with your fingernail, or create tiny folds.If you want it to look darker in the creases, you can crumple when it is damp again, making sure you don't rip the page in half.
  4. Image titled Make Paper Look Old Step 4
    4
    Lay out the paper to dry. You can put it on a paper towel or counter top, or use a hair dryer. It would take about 2-3 hours to dry, so people would recommend using a hair dryer.
  5. Image titled Make Paper Look Old Step 5
    5
    Finished.

Method 2
Painting

  1. Image titled Make Paper Look Old Step 6
    1
    Brew tea or coffee. If you use tea, save the tea bag.
  2. Image titled Make Paper Look Old Step 7
    2
    Lay your paper onto a flat surface.
  3. Image titled Make Paper Look Old Step 8
    3
    Paint the paper with the liquid. If you're using coffee, dip a paintbrush or a corner of soft cloth into the liquid and apply in strokes to the paper. If you brewed tea, smear the teabag over the paper and dip it back into the cup of tea when to re-wet it. Tea will look more yellow, while coffee will appear more brown.
  4. Image titled Make Paper Look Old Step 9
    4
    Allow the paper to dry. Let your paper sit on a flat surface to dry, or speed up the process with a hair dryer.

Method 3
Solvent (tea, coffee, OJ) and Baking it in the oven

  1. Image titled Make Paper Look Old Step 10
    1
    Pick a solvent. To age your paper, you can soak it in coffee (darker color), tea (medium color) or orange juice (light color), or a combination of brewed tea and coffee grounds. If you choose orange juice, you may want to skip the next step.There are a few ways you can make the paper look old, even if its new fresh paper. You can write on it and send it to someone far away or where you live. Do not overdo one of the steps, or it will not turn out as great as you want it to be.
  2. Image titled Make Paper Look Old Step 11
    2
    Brew the coffee or tea (optional). For a lighter-colored solvent, use very little coffee or dunk a teabag in a warm mug of water a few times, then remove. For a richer tone, use more coffee grounds than usual or let the tea bag steep in hot water for five minutes. Because making tea and coffee usually requires hot water, let your solvent cool for a bit before using it on your paper - you don't want to burn your fingers.
  3. Image titled Make Paper Look Old Step 12
    3
    Place the paper on a baking or cookie sheet. Make sure the paper can fit inside the sheet easily, without going over the edges.
  4. Image titled Make Paper Look Old Step 13
    4
    Pour in the solvent. Start pouring in a corner of the baking sheet, not directly over the paper. Only pour enough liquid to make a small pool beneath the sheet of paper; the paper does not need to be completely covered because it will soak up the solvent beneath it.
  5. Image titled Make Paper Look Old Step 14
    5
    Preheat the oven. Set the oven to bake at 200ºF (90ºC). It will be warm by the time your paper is done soaking.
  6. Image titled Make Paper Look Old Step 15
    6
    Let the paper soak for five minutes. Allow plenty of time for the paper to absorb the pigment from the solvent. If you notice any dry spots, spoon up some of the liquid and pour it over the paper.
  7. Image titled Make Paper Look Old Step 16
    7
    Pour off the excess solvent. Put one finger down on the paper to anchor it to the baking sheet, then tilt the sheet over the sink to drain the leftover liquid. You can also gently transfer the paper to a clean baking sheet, if you prefer.
  8. Image titled Make Paper Look Old Step 17
    8
    Modify the paper (optional). Before you put the baking sheet and paper in the oven, you can add a few touches to make the paper seem even older while it's damp and easy to manipulate. Tear a thin, jagged strip off the side. Or, dig small holes out of the paper with your fingernail; you can crumple these tiny wads and move them to other parts of the paper for a bumpy, parchment-like look. Additionally, you can press down on the paper with something like a fork to leave imprints.
  9. Image titled Make Paper Look Old Step 18
    9
    Place the paper and the baking sheet in the oven. If you can, put the sheet on a middle oven rack.
  10. Image titled Make Paper Look Old Step 19
    10
    Bake for four to seven minutes. Keep an eye on the paper as it bakes. Once you see the edges starting to curl up, it's finished.
  11. Image titled Make Paper Look Old Step 20
    11
    Remove the paper and allow it to cool. Give the paper 10 to 15 minutes to cool down before you attempt writing on it.

Method 4
Coffee and Heat

  1. Image titled Make Paper Look Old Step 21
    1
    Make some coffee. In doing so, add a lot more instant coffee or put more coffee in the coffee maker than you'd normally do. The amount of coffee added will affect how dark the paper will turn out.
  2. Image titled Make Paper Look Old Step 22
    2
    Using a brush, "paint" the coffee. Do this until you see no more white on the paper. Dry with cloth and repeat two to five times (depending how dark you like it).
    • Note that if you decide to move the paper around and tear off a small piece of the corners, it will not matter as you can burn it slightly at that area to hide it.
  3. Image titled Make Paper Look Old Step 23
    3
    Use a candle or a gas stove. Hold the edge 2-3 cm (.8-1.2 inches) from the flame, close enough so you can see a little orange fly up on the area you are trying to burn. Do not worry if you start a small fire of the edge; just shake the paper until it disappears and it will leave a dark brown area where the fire was.
  4. Image titled Make Paper Look Old Step 24
    4
    Repeat in all designated areas until done. The paper will now appear very aged.

Method 5
Flame

  1. Image titled Make Paper Look Old Step 25
    1
    Work over a sink. If you accidentally light the paper on fire, you can just drop it into the sink. For this particular method you should write on the paper after, so that you do not lose some of your work when you burn it.
  2. Image titled Make Paper Look Old Step 26
    2
    Light a candle, or find a lighter. If you're using a lighter, consider having a second person hold the flame while you manage the paper with both hands.
  3. Image titled Make Paper Look Old Step 27
    3
    Burn the edges. Hold the paper between 1/2 inch (1cm) and 1 inch (2.5cm) above a candle flame and move it back and forth. This will create the darkened look of paper that's been around for a very long time and been damaged by time and circumstance. Warning: Do not put it too long on one place by the candle. If you drop the paper and it has flames on it and it's under a mat, there is a chance that your house may end up on fire and that won't be so good.
    • Don't actually put the paper into the flame. The idea is to use the heat from the flame to char the paper slowly, not to light the paper on fire.
    • If you want little holes in the paper, put the paper around an inch above the candle and just hold it there. When there is a small flame on the paper, blow on it.
      Image titled Make Paper Look Old Step 27Bullet2
    • The result should be a small hole with a burnt outline.
      Image titled Make Paper Look Old Step 27Bullet3

Method 6
Electric Stove

  1. Image titled Make Paper Look Old Step 28
    1
    Find a piece of uncolored paper. If the paper you are burning is white, then you can skip this step. If you're burning a colored piece of paper, however, then you'll need a plain sheet of paper between that and the burner. Otherwise, the dyes from the colored paper could adhere to the burner. For this method as well you should write on the paper afterwards.
  2. Image titled Make Paper Look Old Step 29
    2
    Place the uncolored paper under the other piece of paper and put both on the electric stove.
  3. Image titled Make Paper Look Old Step 30
    3
    Turn the heat to medium.
  4. Image titled Make Paper Look Old Step 31
    4
    Take a spoon, fork, or stick and press on the desired spots you wish to burn.
  5. Image titled Make Paper Look Old Step 32
    5
    Let the paper cool.

Method 7
Dirt in the Yard

  1. Image titled Make Paper Look Old Step 33
    1
    Dig a hole in your backyard or a local park.
  2. Image titled Make Paper Look Old Step 34
    2
    Place the paper inside the hole. Add a little bit of water.
  3. Image titled Make Paper Look Old Step 35
    3
    Cover it up with dirt.
  4. Image titled Make Paper Look Old Step 36
    4
    Wait for anywhere from three to fourteen days depending on how old you want the paper to look.
  5. Image titled Make Paper Look Old Step 37
    5
    Retrieve your now old-looking paper!
  6. Image titled Make Paper Look Old Step 38
    6
    Finished.

Printable Template

Old Paper Template

Tips

  • To give writing the look of age, write using lemon juice. When the juice dries, hold the paper over a toaster and it will show up as a faded brown instead of fresh black.
  • Use a combination of methods. For instance, you could crumple and dampen your paper, let dry, and then burn the edges.
  • Paint lightly with green tea or diluted yellow food coloring. Let it dry.
  • If you use coffee to make the paper look old, add a few glasses of red wine to the coffee. Because the substance is different, the coffee will be on the "large" spaces while the wine will be in the "little wrinkles". This gives a very old effect.
  • Add turmeric to the tea to get some grainy texture on the paper.
  • Practice the flame method on a different sheet of paper before you try it with your good sheet.
  • The paper looks more antique and refined when you burn it while it is still damp from staining.
  • If you are a child burning the edges for a project, ask an adult for help. You might want to do this somewhere near a sink, and where there are not smoke alarms.
  • If you want your paper to have darkly-colored folds, crease it before immersing it in liquid or spraying it.
  • Spray your paper with transparent lacquer upon complete drying for extra finish.
  • Try a fountain pen or even a dip pen for authentic-looking writing. Practice calligraphy to make your letters look antique and refined.
  • Make sure you don't use too much water; otherwise, your paper may tear.
  • "Fox" your paper. Create little brown spots or streaks brought on by age using instant coffee grounds, or by using a paintbrush to put spots of coffee on your dried paper.

Warnings

  • If you are using the Soaking Method, do not attempt to soak several pieces of paper at one time. The pages will stick together. Instead, soak your pages individually, using the same tea.
  • Don't let the paper soak for too long, or it will begin to degrade.
  • Use parental supervision when dealing with open flames, electric burners or ovens.
  • If there is writing on the paper, do not soak it in liquid if it is in ink, or it will spread and will become illegible. Use biro or pencil.
  • Don't put your paper too close to a flame, or it will light on fire.

Things You'll Need

  • Baking Method: your paper, solvent (coffee, tea or orange juice), baking sheet, oven.
  • Painting Method: Solvent (coffee or tea); paintbrush, corner of soft cloth, or teabag.
  • Flame Method: Candle or lighter, a sink to work over.
  • Electric Stove Method: Uncolored sheet of paper, electric stove burner
  • Crumpling and Dampening Method: Solvent (coffee, tea, orange juice or water), hair dryer (optional)

Article Info

Categories: Paper Craft