How I Aged Paper 500 Years in 5 Days: A Photographic Journey

Author’s Note Regarding my Recent Post: As nice as “likes” are I really was interested in your opinion. Which way looks better to you? I want to hear from you before starting on the final version, of both the text-book and the ring inscription. Which one do you like? And yes I guess I am trying to get comments on this blog, but it’s because I honestly want your opinion.

BACKGROUND INFO ON THE PROJECT

I have tried staining my paper to get an aged effect a couple of times before. The first time was over a year ago using tea and really really old dirty baking sheets. Needless to say it didn’t go very well. Then a couple of weeks ago I tried again, on nice clean new cookie sheets as a trial run and it went pretty well. I am going to use these coffee stained old pages to make my quenya textbook. I was able to keep it in one post, but there are lots of pictures, so it is rather long. Hopefully you’ll be able to stain your own paper after reading this!

Materials:

Brewed Black Coffee (enough to fill a baking sheet)

Baking Sheet(s) (Big enough to hold your paper)

Paper (Whatever paper you want to age)

Oven (Big enough to hold your baking sheets)

Cooling Racks (Also big enough to hold your paper)

OPTIONAL (For Pressing your paper)

Heavy Books (Lots of heavy books)

Iron

Ironing board

Cloth (To cover the paper while you iron, so it doesn’t burn)

2 Smallish sheets of plywood (but big enough to fit your paper on)

4 C-Clamps (Big enough to fit over two pieces of plywood+your paper)

Cloth (Enough to cover the plywood, so you don’t damage your paper while pressing it)

 

Procedure:

First pick out your paper. Here is the paper I used:

The smaller pieces are regular 8 1/2 x 11 HP Premium Choice Laser Paper. I got it at Office Max.

The smaller pieces are regular 8 1/2 x 11 HP Premium Choice Laser Paper. I got it at Office Max.

Then brew your coffee.

This is where I brewed my coffee.

This is where I brewed my coffee.

Then pour it into your baking sheet:

You need to do it just like this. :)

You need to do it just like this. 🙂

The directions I followed said to let the coffee cool before adding the paper I dunno why but I followed the directions.

DSCN0008

The coffee had such a nice color in the pan, but my camera was not quite able to do it justice. Alas…

After the coffee has cooled, carefully submerge your paper:

One at a time of course!

One at a time of course!

Slowly but surely:

DSCN0013

You can use two hands if you want, I just had to take a picture so I only used one hand for this piece.

Run your fingers along the paper and make sure it is submerged and all the way and at the bottom of the baking sheet, completely covered in coffee:

There I go again using one hand, feel free to use two...

There I go again using one hand, feel free to use two…

If your cookie sheet is big enough you might be able to fit two sheets of paper in at a time!

Ta-da!

Ta-da!

Feel free to stack them as high as you want! I think I made my stacks five pieces high:

Just like this

Just like this.

Let them soak for however long you feel they need to. I soaked mine for about half an hour, I think. Ten to fifteen minutes should work too. Just be sure to check them every now and again, make sure they are not getting too dark and that they are still submerged completely. Set the oven to 225°F.

DSCN0023

Bake @ 225 F

Carefully remove one piece from the coffee and let it drip. You may want to run your fingers down it to get the excess coffee off.

Be sure to let it drip, try to get as much coffee off as you can without damaging the paper.

Be sure to let it drip, try to get as much coffee off as you can without damaging the paper.

Put the paper carefully into a new cookie sheet. I was able to fit more than one piece:

But not more than two!

But not more than two!

Then put the new baking sheet into the oven:

Be careful! The oven is hot.

Be careful! The oven is hot.

You can leave them in for about 7 minutes. I checked mine about halfway through. They were mostly dry but I flipped them over and left them in till the timer went off.

See: mostly dry! Just flip them over and let them dry all the way.

See: mostly dry! Just flip them over and let them dry all the way.

If they aren’t dry after seven minutes just leave them in a little longer but keep an eye on them! Once they are all the way dry take them out and put them on a cooling rack:

I did more than one piece so I needed a couple cooling racks,

I did more than one piece so I needed a couple of cooling racks.

I actually did quite a few:

A nice stack of antique (looking) paper!

A nice stack of antique (looking) paper!

But wait! They are still wrinkly and won’t lie flat! Yeah, I noticed that too. So I split the pile in two and piled heavy books on them!

L

Lots and lots of books!

I left them under the books overnight but that did not quite flatten them out enough. So I tried ironing them carefully, putting a piece of cloth between them and the iron so they wouldn’t burn:

There's a piece of paper under that cloth, I promise!

There’s a piece of paper under that cloth, I promise!

That helped somewhat but they were still pretty wrinkly around the edges. So I rigged up a primitive paper press with two pieces of ply wood and some c-clamps:

My handy-work...at work

My handy-work…at work.

I did put the cloth between the paper and the wood too, I guess I’m a bit paranoid about damaging my paper.

Maybe this is a bit of a better view.

Maybe this is a bit of a better view.

I left them in the press for about three days. Now they are still not quite flat but they are flat enough to work with and not be a pain in the neck.

Compare with the other stack above.

Compare with the other stack above.

And there you go! Aged paper.

FIN.

 

Below is a comparison with the white paper I started with and a few details:

DSCN0067

Quite an improvement, I’d say.

One side had this really cool aged pattern look!

One side had this really cool aged parchment look!

 

But the other side didn't. I don't know why.

But the other side didn’t. I don’t know why.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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