October 26, 2011

Aging Paper

Since I was in the need for some
images to look older for a project,
I tried the old trick of putting coffee
on paper and baking it as well as 
 some additional methods.
Here is how the experiements looked in case you have the need
in the future for some aged-looking paper yourself.
These images started out on plain white copy paper and have black coffee "painted" on them. 

I found and downloaded most of these images at

In the recesses of my mind, I remembered that one kind of
 computer printing "runs"when you put coffee on it.
  It didn't take long to see that it is the images
 printed out on an inkjet printer. 
 UPDATE: Two commenters on this post,
Time Worn Interiors and French Laundry, both age the paper
BEFORE running it through the inkjet printer
to eliminate the "running ink" problem.  Genius.
The crow and the brown-ish pink-ish snake are color ink jet prints.

After baking the first image (I'm not picturing it..it was pretty ordinary)
and looking at the results,
I decided to add "flyspecks" on the next image.
After wetting the image with coffee, I flicked watered down brown acrylic paint on the paper
with a toothbrush.  If you get more/bigger specks than you intended, just dab them off with a paper towel.

Here is the skull image after baking in a 250 degree oven
for about 3 minutes:
The wetter the image, the longer it needs to "bake".  Be sure to stay by your oven when doing this
to monitor the drying.  None of the images I did took longer than 5 minutes. 

If you want a darker edge, you can dab the watered-down
brown paint around the edges...

...and then immediately take some of the paint back
off with a wet paper towel. 
Don't even go all the way around the paper with the watered-down paint
before taking some of it back off with the the paper towel... it soaks in fast.
Do a section at a time.

Here is Mr. Crow after baking for about 4 minutes:

Another aging technique I have seen in the past
is to burn the edges of the paper.
I did try this but it was pretty time-consuming
and since the paper sometimes kept smoldering
even after I blew it out, I didn't have much control
over how much of the edge burned.
I would recommend doing the burning outside.  Only burn a small section at a time before blowing it out.

An alternate edging method is to just tear the edge.
This is an edge torn AFTER the coffee has been applied to the paper and then baked.

If you want a darker torn edge, tear the paper first and
THEN paint the coffee on the paper.
This is a comparison photo of the different types of edges you can achieve.

After I got the previously white paper images aged,
the images that printed with a seipa-type background
didn't look aged enough to be with them
so I aged them too.
These are the images out of the ones I had downloaded and printed out that already had a
somewhat aged look to them. This is "before" I aged them some more.

I didn't want the ink to run on this ink jet print
so I only did the "fly-speck" technique on it.

Since one of my snake skeleton ink jet images had faded so much,
I re-printed on the laser printer on white paper
and aged the paper with watered-down brown paint.
This gives you a comparison shot of how
different printing and aging can look.
The color ink on the snake on top has run and faded.  It actually looked
very cool up close and you might like that look.

If you want a somewhat aged look but don't want to
fool with the coffee/baking thing, you can simply
print your image on paper from the office supply
or craft store that says "Parchment".

These are all the finished images waiting to
be assembled into a collage.
With the coffee/baking technique the paper actually feels old too.

The images were glued onto a piece of cardboard
and then inserted into a frame that I already had.

The collage brings all the items in the Halloween
 display together.   The name of the display is
"Skeleton/Spider/Snake/Skull Specimens".
If you want to see more up close photos of the display, you can click here.



  1. Thanks for sharing all the different methods of aging paper!

  2. I love the finished collage of all the pictures together. It reminds me of the book Cabinet of Natural Curiosities. Great tutorial!

  3. I like the look of the aged paper. Thanks for the tutorial. I might have to try it sometime.

  4. Thanks for sharing...I will be trying this! It turned out very cool!


  5. Very, very, very cute! I love your collage..and all the different techniques you used to achieve it! xo Diana

  6. Thanks for your experimenting. You have saved us hours of trying the same thing.

  7. Great looking collage and a fun way to age paper.


  8. I wish I would have taken the time to age my paper for my "pretend spellbook" ;)
    What a fantastic job you did here I love this stuff. Your definitely hired...
    Hugs Rosemary...x

  9. Thanks for sharing the how-to instructions for aging paper, it really gave your papers an "antiqued" look!

  10. Your images turned out fantastic! I have actually used this technique in scrapbooking, looks so authentic :)

    Thanks for stopping by my blog!

  11. Your collage looks great. I appreciate you sharing your techniques. I am definitely going to try this out. Is there any secret to keeping the paper from curling when it dries--or does the baking prevent that?

  12. Looks awesome... especially in the frame! I've died paper with tea before, but have never heard of baking it... will have to remember that!

  13. Absolutely cool process and what great results!
    Diane XO

  14. Now that is Too Cool! Love this, Thanks for Sharing....

  15. I always age my paper before I run it through the printer, no bleeding.

  16. That is so clever. Thank your for showing us how.

  17. I absolutely LOVE the collage you made with these techniques... it turned out amazing! I have to put this on my list to try for next Halloween. Thanks!


  18. Love your collage. I get around the ink jet running issue by doing my coffee staining and baking before printing. It works fabulously.

    Have a spooky Halloween,

  19. Just fabulous!!! Great tutorial. And the collage is fantastic. Love it! I may try to knock this project out before Fright Night. Thanks so much for sharing.

    And thanks for "visiting" my blog and leaving such a nice comment. I'm following your now! ;o)

    Have a "spooktacular" weekend!

  20. So neat- what a great idea and thank you for sharing the how to also!! Thanks for linking up at Feathered Nest Friday-have a great weekend!

  21. WOW - this is amazing and thanks so much for sharing the tutorial too.
    Visiting from TT&J

  22. Love the collage...maybe if I start now I could do one for next year! haha I love aging paper...you did a great tutorial.

  23. Lots of great information on the aging of the paper! It does look like parchment. Love the collage!
    Thank you for linking it to Home Sweet Home!

  24. Pretty cool! I found your link from HSH. Thanks for sharing!

  25. I'm a new follower. Great tutorial! Thanks for sharing all the techniques and lessons learned. Please check out my blog at www.southernjunkchic.com Thanks!

  26. Great instructions they look so old and wicked. Thanks I will tackle that this fall. Kathy

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