Tips, advice and techniques on how to

Choose the Right Paper

The first thing you may want to consider is what kind of paper you want to start with. Many cotton or textured papers are available that will give you a durable, heavyweight, and more realistic old-fashioned result.

Create Wear

Try balling up the paper to create wrinkles (you can do this before or after getting it wet). Get it wet and use a heat gun or other heat source to dry it, in order to warp the paper and take away its perfect flatness. Fold the paper. Add dog-ears. What is this piece of paper’s story?

Yellow and Stain Paper

The most common way to yellow paper is to use tea, but you can also use coffee as well. Pour hot tea into a cookie sheet and immerse your paper, brush the tea on, or use the tea bags to apply the tea. You can also use a spray bottle and spray tea or coffee onto the paper while damp, or dry.  Rub a few grains of instant coffee into the wet paper. Soak one sheet at a time, and don’t leave it in for too long.

Add red wine to darken the folds and wrinkles of the paper. Add turmeric for a grainy texture.

To dry the stained paper, you can preheat your oven to 200 degrees F and bake it in a cookie sheet or on aluminum foil for no more than 15 minutes. Check it often, as it may burn. The oven method will leave the paper more wrinkled/curved and help darken the edges.

There is also a product called Distress Ink that you can use with their special tools to add more color to the paper once it is dry. It comes in a variety of colors.

Walnut ink is a product some people swear by.

Create Damage, Edge Degradation, and Holes

Use a cigarette lighter to burn holes and the edges. Burning the paper while it is damp has been said to create a more realistic look, and it is easier to control. Paper is flammable and it’s easy to ignite the whole piece within seconds if you’re not careful. If you’re burning it dry, try doing it next to a sink or outdoors.

While your paper is wet, work holes into the paper with your finger tips, damage it with tools (a fork, for instance), and tear it up in spots. Wet paper is easier to manipulate than dry.

Add Text or Drawings

Methods to Use After Aging

These are inks that will run if you apply them before getting the paper wet. Use a calligraphy pen, fountain pen, or a feather pen. For faded brown writing, use lemon juice instead of ink and then apply heat.

Methods to Use Before Aging

There are some inks/toners that will not run and can be applied before the aging process. This can be a huge advantage if you want to design your text or drawing on a computer and the print it out. You can download old-looking fonts and distress your design digitally. Copy machine toner and laser printer toner will not run when wet. You can also use pencil. The inks in ball point pens and permanent markers will run a lot less than other pens.