How to Make Antique Paper 

I have always loved the worn and antique look that old books and letters have. The darkened paper with it’s ragged edges are very romantic and beautiful to look at. While buying this paper pre-made is an option at many specialty stores, it is expensive. Especially if you are someone who writes  often.  I kept trying to think of a way of making my own stationary. Then I heard a friend of mine say that she used tea to dye her hair. I thought if tea is strong enough to color a person’s hair then it should also be able to dye paper as well! After a bit of trial and error this method was born! and “Viola!” cheap homemade antique paper.

Gather your materials :      


All you need is :  plain white printer paper, 2 tea bags, a painting brush of some sort (I used a kitchen brush for sauces but you  can use a regular paint brush. Just make sure it is a flat brush with a straight edge so the tea will go on the paper smoothly), a clear tea cup ( so you can see the color of the tea), something you can boil water in (I have an electric teapot, but you can also just boil it on the stove), a large flat clean surface, and a hairdryer

 Preparing the dye:  

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To make your tea-dye is the same process as making a cup of tea. The more tea  bags you use the darker your dye will be. You really don’t need that much water. The more water that you use the longer it will take your paper to dry.    This 8 ounce cup with two regular tea bags is enough to dye 9 sheets of printer paper. I did 18 sheets this time so I just made two “cups” of dye.  Leave the tea bag in the cup until the tea is very dark. Do NOT let the tea cool. It needs to be hot when you pour it on the paper so the color will absorbed by the paper. I usually dye my paper in batches because the process takes a while so it is better to do a lot at once. Once it is done it is just like regular paper and you do not have to worry about the tea rubbing off onto other surfaces.

Dyeing the paper: 

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The next step now is to dye the paper. Find a large, flat,waterproof surface that is easily clean able. I chose the granite counter top in my kitchen. Clean the surface before you start because you want to lay your paper directly on it so that way it will not wrinkle.

Start by just getting the edges of the paper wet with your brush. This is done so the paper will not warp and become   wrinkled. Once you start applying the tea go in one direction (for me it was left to right) and slightly overlap each stroke on the bottom so that way there will be no white space left over.

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Keep overlapping the layers until you reach the bottom of the page.  Once you reach the bottom you can either stop there, or you can go back and add another layer of tea on top in order to get a darker page. Do not worry too much about the air/water bubbles that you see trapped underneath the page (the light spots). Once the paper drys you will not see them at all.

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After the first layer of tea has air dried a bit, about 10 minutes later, feel free to go back and add another layer of tea. Just be sure not to dump too much water on your paper or it could rip while you are spreading out the dye. Something else that tends to happen is that the water “bubbles” underneath the page will begin to leak out of the sides. It is okay don’t worry! Just dry it up by gently patting a paper towel on top of the spot to help “push” it out from underneath the page, then drying it up. The loss of “tea” will not effect your color.

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To speed up the drying process I used a blow dryer on high heat. Just move the blow-dryer across the page back and forth until the page drys up to the touch. Do NOT completely dry it out. You want it to remain a bit damp so it     will still be flexible enough to “press” flat between two books.

Tea Grounds

Another thing that you can do to get a darker color it is rip open the tea bag and spread out the tea directly onto the paper.  This allows the “tea” to soak directly onto the page. Once again this is best done while the tea is hot. It is best just to give the paper a layer or two the traditional way first, then spread the ground on top of the paper for layer three.

Once the paper has completely dried you can just use a dry paper towel to wipe the grounds off. It comes off fairly easily once it is wiped.  There is no need to press hard if the paper is dry enough the grounds will come right off.

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After I had allowed my paper to air dry for about two hours after I had removed the tea grinds I placed them in the middle of a stack of large heavy books overnight in order to completely flatten my pages.

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When I removed the paper from between the books the next day I had a pristine stack of antiqued paper that is ready to use for crafting!  The variations in tone are based on how many layers of tea I put on and whether or not I used the tea grinds. The darker pages are the ones that had the tea grinds on top of them.

So that is all of the steps it takes to create antique paper! Stay tuned until next time and I will show you how to make a card out of this paper! Thanks everyone! Let me know in the comments below if you have any questions!

– Mariam






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