Artsy Things how to coffee stain paper (2 of 3)

Published on July 16th, 2012 | by Julie Finn

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How To Antique Paper Using Coffee Staining

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How To Antique Paper Using Coffee Staining

Coffee staining is an easy way to give an antique look to paper. Here’s how to antique paper with a simple coffee staining technique.

Using coffee staining, you can give pristine white paper a browned, unevenly-colored aged appearance and parchment-like texture–just the effect that I wanted to give on my daughter’s pirate birthday party invitations!

Here’s how to antique paper with plain old coffee:

How To Antique Paper Using Coffee Staining

You can use coffee staining to antique almost any paper, including these dictionary pages that I want to give a vintage appearance.

To coffee stain paper, you will need:

  • a pan large enough to hold your paper–If you don’t want to micromanage the staining, you can do this project in a large bucket; I’m picky about the effect that I want, so I stain in a shallow baking dish in which a single page can lie flat and be submerged.
  • cheap coffee–I use a coffee:water ratio of 3:1, but the solution is quite forgiving; if your mixture is on the weaker side, you’ll simply need to wait longer for the paper to stain.
  • boiling water–Straight from the tea kettle!
  • a clothes line or other place to hang the wet paper–If it’s cold or rainy outside, you can also drape your pages over a drying rack that’s sitting on a dish towel to catch the coffee drips.

How To Antique Paper Using Coffee Staining

1. Set up your empty pan on a flat surface and pour in the coffee grounds. It’s fine if you don’t already know the amount of grounds that you’ll want to use; as the coffee steeps, you can always add more grounds to darken the color.

2. Pour boiling water into the pan to cover the grounds. Let the coffee steep for at least five minutes, then adjust its strength if you’d like.

3. Add a piece of paper to the pan, and let it steep. The amount of time that you allow the paper to steep is completely up to you and the degree of staining that you want on your paper. In various projects, I’ve steeped paper anywhere from five minutes to overnight, all with fine results.

4. When the paper is just a shade or two lighter than what you’d like it to be, remove it from the coffee. The paper will darken a little more as it dries.

5. Hang the paper until dry. Be mindful as you handle the paper, since it will be more fragile while it’s wet. When the paper is dry, you can return it to the coffee bath if it’s not dark enough for you. Otherwise, you can press it under a heavy book to flatten it, and then it’s ready to use!

PLEASE NOTE: Coffee stained paper is SO not archival, so be mindful when using it in scrapbooking or card-making if keeping your work archival is important to you.



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About the Author

I'm a writer, crafter, Zombie Preparedness Planner, and homeschooling momma of two kids who will hopefully someday transition into using their genius for good, not the evil machinations and mess-making in which they currently indulge. I'm interested in recycling and nature crafts, food security, STEM education, and the DIY lifestyle, however it's manifested--making myself some underwear out of T-shirts? Done it. Teaching myself guitar? Doing it right now. Visit my blog Craft Knife for a peek at our very weird handmade homeschool life; my etsy shop Pumpkin+Bear for a truly odd number of rainbow-themed beeswax pretties; and my for links to articles about poverty, educational politics, and this famous cat who lives in my neighborhood.



  • http://www.arabiancoffees.co.uk ArabianCoffees

    This is great. Imagine it also gives the paper a nice scent too.

    Think we’ll give it a try with some of our own coffees.

  • http://www.was-macht-grete.de Grete

    Hey, I just want to thank you for this great idea and the inspiriration. I tried it yesterday because I need old paper for a project and it worked great.
    Greetings from germany,
    Grete

  • Pingback: Crafting a Green World | How To: Recycled “Fall” Jars | Page: 1 | Crafting a Green World

  • Jenny Lee

    This is awesome! Can is use the paper to fold origami flowers? Any tricks on straightening the paper?

    • http://www.craftknife.blogspot.com Julie Finn

      I don’t see why you wouldn’t be able to do origami with your antiqued paper! It’s absolutely NOT archival, though, so no keepsake making.

      For straightening the paper, the best/quickest/easiest method is simply to iron it with a warm iron. I iron papers all the time to flatten them, and it works like a charm.

  • http://growinginseattle.blogspot.com Carolyn

    Thanks so much for this post! I was wondering if you’ve ever tried this with embossed paper, or with cardstock? I’m thinking about “distressing” some paper like this for wedding invites. Also, do you think I can dry them flat somewhere instead of hang drying? (80 invites + 80 reply cards… I’m feelin’ lazy!)

    • http://www.craftknife.blogspot.com Julie Finn

      These are good questions! I definitely feel like the project is worth experimenting with, especially since coffee is cheap. If I had it to do, I’d take a morning and stain the exact type of paper that I’d want to use, and just see how it turns out. You might want to do one piece at a time, and then refine your technique on the next piece, if needed. Even if I knew that it would definitely work, you’d want to do this first, anyway, as practice, and then you’d know that your wedding invitations would come out perfectly the first try!

      I also think that it’s worth experimenting with laying the paper flat between sheets of newspaper or dish towels to dry. I don’t totally know if the stain would bleed out too much to make it worth doing it that way, but it’s certainly worth trying.

      • http://growinginseattle.blogspot.com Carolyn

        Will do – Thank you so much for replying, I appreciate it! I’ll try to remember to update here once I try it out.

        • http://growinginseattle.blogspot.com Carolyn

          Update: Tried this with laying out the cardstock to dry and with embossed paper. Laying the paper flat works well, but just takes significantly longer to dry. Embossed paper absolutely does not hold up to a soak in water (I probably should have realized that intuitively, ha!), the embossing is basically gone when it’s out of the coffee water.

          Thanks again!

          • http://www.craftknife.blogspot.com Julie Finn

            The second that I read that, I was all, “Of COURSE the embossing would be gone! ARGH!” I wonder if the paper would be too brittle after its soak to be embossed at that point.

            • http://growinginseattle.blogspot.com Carolyn

              That’s a really good point with normal weight paper – but it might be ok? I’ve embossed the coffee-stained cardstock and it holds up very well to embossing. But that might be because it’s just so much sturdier to begin with. My invitations look beautiful, so thanks again :).

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