Need vintage looking paper right now and don’t have 75-100 years to wait for it to look that way? Make your own! Vintage-looking paper can be used for invitations, tags, signs, cards of any size and it’s super easy to do yourself! This hack takes just minutes to do and costs next to nothing in supplies because you most likely have everything you need except maybe the paper you want to ‘age’. The super secret ingredient to age paper is…
(drum roll, please!)…TEA and COFFEE! They really do the job perfectly and the technique can be quickly mastered. If you’re going for a soft, vintage-y, aged look, use tea. If you want a darker, rougher, grungy look, go with coffee. Experimenting with both is fun, too. Give it a try!
Whatever paper, manila tags or other paper you wish to ‘age’ (cutting paper ahead to desired size will work best so you can darken the edges of each piece)
Cooled cup of strong tea made with 2-3 black tea teabags (steep for 10 minutes, strain and keep the teabags)
(if using coffee, you can wrap coffee grounds in a paper towel or coffee filter)
2-3 used teabags (strained)
1) Protect your work surface with newspaper or other scrap paper.
2) Take your paper you want to ‘age’ and one of the used teabags. Wipe the wet teabag completely over the paper piece and then go back over the paper dabbing with the teabag to darken random areas. Use a rag or paper towel to dab in your cup of tea to add additional tea stains. Work on 5 separate pieces of paper at a time as a set. This gives paper #1 time to dry slightly before you come back to it to additionally age the edges of the paper.
3) Work through your set of papers again a second or third time, as needed. Darken the edges by layering teastains around the edges. Allow all to dry and then retouch as desired. It may take a bit of practice as to how much or little you need to stain your particular paper (different types of paper will absorb the tea differently), to get the effect you desire.
4) When dry, brush off any bits of tea or paper fibers, and smooth out paper. If paper is too crinkled or buckled, flatten under several heavy books overnight.
*These simple directions all apply to working with the coffee grounds as well. Additionally try using the used coffee grounds directly on the paper. Gently rub them on the paper for a grungier effect.
**The ‘Mad Hatter’ invitation’s coffee ring and splatters were handmade individually using very strong coffee and left in place to dry for several minutes. The excess coffee was carefully absorbed away with paper toweling.
***The ‘Sleepy Hollow’ Halloween invitations also had the edges of the various invite components very carefully hand-singed with a lighter after the paper was stained and printed. PLEASE USE CAUTION TRYING THIS YOURSELF. This singing effect should be done in a well-ventilated area near a water source such as a sink as there will be some smoke and the paper can easily catch fire. Adults only, please.