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!
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)
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)
First pick out your paper. Here is the paper I used:
Then brew your coffee.
Then pour it into your baking sheet:
The directions I followed said to let the coffee cool before adding the paper I dunno why but I followed the directions.
After the coffee has cooled, carefully submerge your paper:
Slowly but surely:
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:
If your cookie sheet is big enough you might be able to fit two sheets of paper in at a time!
Feel free to stack them as high as you want! I think I made my stacks five pieces high:
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.
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.
Put the paper carefully into a new cookie sheet. I was able to fit more than one piece:
Then put the new baking sheet into the oven:
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.
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 actually did quite a few:
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!
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:
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:
I did put the cloth between the paper and the wood too, I guess I’m a bit paranoid about damaging my paper.
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.
And there you go! Aged paper.
Below is a comparison with the white paper I started with and a few details: