Midterm Stress Relief Week: Tea Bagging Paper With Class

Welcome to Day 1 of Midterm Stress Relief Week (MSRW), I’m your host Martha Stewart.

I’m just kidding. I’ve never [insert incarceration joke here]. But I’ve never been on any Forbes list either. And cheese and crackers, did you know she’s 71 years old? Hot damn. But enough about cosmetically enhanced successful people, let’s get down to business.

My first crafty activity for MSRW is making paper look old. The idea came up when a friend of mine asked me to write her an old-fashioned snail mail letter. It had been a while since I’d written and sent a proper letter to anyone, so I thought I’d go all out. (And by all out, I mean rubbing tea bags across cheap paper). There are a gazillion tutorials online, but here’s how I did it.

What You’ll Need:

– A flat surface that you don’t mind getting wet (baking trays work great)
– Tea bags
– Hot water
– Towels/paper towels/napkins/absorbent textile of choice
– Hair dryer

Step 1: Get Your Downton Abbey On

In other words, make some tea. It doesn’t have to be any fancy schmancy tea. Any tea will do. I chose to use black tea and it works pretty well.

Classy cheap black tea

Classy as shiz.

Soak the tea bag in hot water for about 5-10 minutes. The number of tea bags you use will depend on how much paper you’ll be “aging” and how dark you’ll want your paper to be. I used about one tea bag per half sheet of paper (~5″ x 7″).

Step 2: Prepare Paper for Tea Bag Humiliation

Set your paper on a flat surface. I used a baking tray because it has raised sides, it’s smooth, and it’s very easy to clean. I had ripped regular printer paper in half and then ripped about a half inch from the three remaining “clean” edges. When your paper is at the desired dimensions, crumple it up sufficiently to begin giving it that worn look. And then smooth it back out. The crinkles will still be there after you wet the paper.

Aging paper on baking tray

Ye Olde Paper: Before and After

[Extra: To make the paper look even more worn, you can burn the edges. I didn’t feel like messing with fire this time, but it’s something I’ll try someday. Here’s a quick and easy tutorial on how to do it. It will probably be easier to do before tea bagging the paper.]

Step 3: Tea Bag Like a Call of Duty Douchebag

Minus the douchiness. Your tea bag’s been soaking for long enough, so take it out and wring out most of the water. I found that it was easier and faster to stain the paper when the tea bag is very, very damp, but not very wet. It appears to create a darker color. If you soak it, the paper becomes more fragile and translucent and it obviously takes longer to dry. Use your towel/paper towel/napkin/absorbent textile of choice to dab the paper and soak up some of the moisture. As your paper gets wetter, be careful not to rub too hard or else you’ll tear it.

Tea Bagging Paper

That’s a used tea bag, not fecal matter.

Don’t worry about perfection – the point of the project is making the paper look imperfect. Aged paper often has uneven coloring, especially around the edges. Dab the edges with the tea bag to darken them. Also, make random splotches on the paper by dabbing various spots extra heavily. I liked to hold the tea bag a few inches above the paper and squeeze it to make droplets that dry into darkened splotches on the sheet.

Also, it’s likely that the tea bag will eventually break. Never to fear, it’s a good thing. Rub the leaves and grounds into the paper (again, careful not to tear it) to give it a more grainy, dirtied look.

Step 4: Shake It Like a Polaroid Picture

Use a hair dryer, actually. Shaking it like a polaroid picture will make you start the project over because all you’ll have are torn wads and pieces of icky wet paper. Before applying another coat of tea stain (the darker you want it, the more coats you’ll need), you have to wait for the paper to dry. A hair dryer works wonders. Some tutorials use oven baking or letting the paper dry between a towel and a heavy object for a few hours. But ain’t nobody got time for that. Just use a hair dryer.

Hair Dryer for Aging Paper

Saves time and sanity.

Step 5: Lather, Rinse, Repeat

Keep tea bagging the pages and drying them out until you’re happy with how they look. Practice and experiment. Easy as 3.14159.

Aging Paper Finished Product

Drop the needle on the gramophone. Time to party like it’s 1877.

Procure a feather quill and a bottle of ink and you’re well on your way to mastering the art of forging famous old documents. You’re welcome.

I hope this will help you pass the time between midterm study procrastination sessions. It’s a lot of fun, even for non-artsy people like me. Trust me, doing something non-assignment related is akin to a godsend.

How are you de-stressing from or in between midterms? Anything you’d suggest I try here? And if you tried this out, how did it go? Share your ideas in the comments section below.

Advertisements

3 thoughts on “Midterm Stress Relief Week: Tea Bagging Paper With Class

  1. Pingback: Midterm Stress Relief Week: 1000 Cranes, Give or Take A Few | Stressing Out College

Drop Me A Line

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s