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:
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.
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.
26 CommentsLeave a Reply
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.
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,
This is awesome! Can is use the paper to fold origami flowers? Any tricks on straightening the paper?
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.
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!)
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.
Will do – Thank you so much for replying, I appreciate it! I’ll try to remember to update here once I try it out.
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.
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.
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 :).
Did you print on them before or after you coffee dipped them ?
Definitely before! I don’t like to think what my printer would think about coffee-stained paper.
I am thinking about doing this for a project, but it has to be for a whole composition book, without taking it apart. Do you think I could do this with a whole notebook like that? Also, would it be better to write in it with pen before or after staining it? Thank you for this post!
I’d say try the whole thing out first on another composition book, maybe even writing on a few pages before and then a few pages after, to see which works better. I think you are probably going to want to prepare enough of the coffee solution to be able to hold the composition book by both covers, and then dip all the pages into the solution simultaneously in order to dye them evenly.
I’m planning to do this for a scrapbook project and I just wanted to know what you meant by the coffee not being archival…
Do you mean the stains will fade after some time or will it render stains where I stick pictures.
I’m using acid free paper for maximum retention and i dont wanna use coffee and make teh effort useless
Using coffee staining means your paper won’t be acid free after you have stained it, because the coffee is itself acidic.
I have a new print, roses with white border that I would like to antique and put in a frame. Will this method work, the paper is glossy and size is 34×8. Any suggestions ? Thanks !!
It might not work if the paper is coated in something to make it glossy. To avoid ruining your print, I’d suggest stopping by a scrapbooking store, picking up a glossy piece of paper of the same approximate weight, and just giving it a try with that first.
This is great! I used this for a school project, dried on the dish rack, and even tried crumpling it while it was damp, then blow dried it. They look great!
What does not archival mean here? Will the paper tear easily or will the coffee colour fade with age?
Archival is another way to say “acid-free.” Coffee is acidic, so will deteriorate the paper over time.
Can I add a little coffee to modpodge and gently brush it on some old music pages?
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