5 Great Ideas to Make a Paper Look Old?

We all love doing a little journaling or crafting sometimes, right? And what better way to add a vintage touch to it than using aged paper? In this step-by-step article, you’ll get to know how to make a paper look old at home without much hassle.

You can add different textures to the paper by using various household things to age it.

Some of the most common ways to make a paper look old are crumbling, burning edges, tea spilling or coffee staining, or even coloring it with a little amount of brown paint.

Go through the whole article to gather more in-depth knowledge about these methods. I will also discuss some tips & tricks that might make your job even easier.

How to Make a Paper Look Old

Is It Possible to Make New Paper Look Old?

Aging paper and making it look old is a fairly new technique in the art world. It mostly comes in handy if you are into journaling or sketching. Aged papers can add a classic and vintage look to any art project.

Of course, you can buy readymade vintage brown papers from any stationary store, but making your own material is kind of the main fun of DIY projects.

There are a lot of ways to do it. You can simply crumble up a piece of paper and call it a day. The wrinkled paper would give off an old-looking vibe.

Or you can brush a bit of tea or coffee mixture to give that rusty antique look. Brown paint could also be an alternative to it.

Another great technique which is my personal is to burn out the edges of a paper. Ripping or burning the edges of the paper can help you achieve a worn-out look.

What You’ll Need

  • White stationery paper
  • Lighter or candle
  • Paper towels
  • Instant coffee or tea bag
  • Water
  • Digging tools

How to Make Paper Look Old (Easy & Fast Ways)

How to Make Paper Look Old
Image: thecraftaholicwitch.com

In the following segment, I will guide you through the step-by-step process of these easy and inexpensive paper aging techniques.

Method 1: Ripping the Edges

Step 1: First, take any sample paper that you would like to experiment with. My recommendation would be to use an A4-sized stationary paper. Cut it in half to get the perfect-sized paper for your notebook or art journals. 

You can, however, use any sized or shaped paper if you want.

Step 2: Grab the piece of paper and hold it firmly with one hand. Now, pinch the paper near the edges with the other hand and start ripping it. Tearing papers apart can be really fun and satisfying, you know?

You can decide to rip all 4 sides of the paper or you can leave out two adjacent sides to give it an asymmetrical artistic look. Now go creative with this as it’s all up to you.

Method 2: Slightly Burn Edges

Step 1: Take the paper that you will be using and douse it in water. This is a very important step in this process. If you want to avoid accidentally burning the paper, don’t skip it. 

Step 2: Take a burning candle or lighter for this. You can choose whichever one you feel more comfortable with. However, a lighter will give you better control. Avoid using butane lighters as their flame is too intense for this purpose. 

Now, run the edges of the paper through the fire. Don’t hold the fire at any spot for too long. Otherwise, the fire will start spreading uncontrollably and burn the whole paper. 

Fire makes a unique and interesting pattern along the paper’s edges. The darkened look it creates gives an old vibe to the paper and makes it seem like the paper has been going around for quite a while. 

Step 3: If you want to further add more textures to make it seem like an aging paper, burn small portions of the paper at some spots.

Method 3: Crumbling Paper

Crumbling Paper

Step 1: Choose any paper which you want to appear older and crumble it with the palm of your hand. Be careful not to turn it entirely into a paper ball. Apply gentle pressure if you want soft, light crease lines. 

For finer creases and more texture, you will need to make the tighter. You can now unscramble it and leave it as it is. This crumbled-up look can make them appear as vintage papers. 

Step 2: If you want to add even more details, this step is important for you. Take a spray bottle and fill it with water. Then gently start spraying the water over your desired spots of the unscrambled paper. 

You can add a tiny bit of instant coffee or brown paint to the water to make it look like antique paper. Now that the spraying is done, lay out the paper over any flat surface. You can further alter the paper and add more damage marks

Step 3: Remember that the more aged you want it to appear, the more damage marks you should create. Try pinching the wet paper to remove small chunks of it, tear the sides a little, or poke the paper to distort it. 

The wrinkles simulate the passage of time and make it seem like the paper has gone through a lot. Now, if you want to add even more crease, cautiously crumble the damp paper again. Be careful not to rip the paper in half at this step. 

Step 4: Leave the paper to air dry once you are satisfied with the way it looks. If you are in a hurry, gently pat the paper with a paper towel to soak up the excess water. You can also use a hair dryer to make it dry faster.

Method 4: Stain Paper with Coffee or Tea

Stain Paper with Coffee or Tea

Step 1: Staining papers with tea or coffee is a really nice technique. It gives a very unique and rustic look to the piece of paper. First, choose the solvent that you would like to use and brew it. 

If you want to have a dark brown stain, go for coffee. For slightly lighter colors choose any type of black tea. With coffee, you can darken or lighten the color by adding more or fewer coffee grounds to the hot water. 

In the case of tea, add more tea bags and let them sit for a while in the hot water. A longer infusion will create a darker color. Now don’t go pouring your hot coffee or tea over the whole sheet. 

This can instantly tear the paper and turn it into mush. Let the liquid cool down a bit and then drizzle it over the paper as needed. 

Step 2: Select a piece of paper and place it over a baking sheet or cookie sheet. Now, preheat your oven to a temperature of 200 degrees Fahrenheit (90 degrees Celsius). By preheating it at this time, the oven should be prepared by the time the paper is ready to be baked. 

Step 3: Take some of the liquid in a cup and pour it on the baking sheet. Don’t pour it directly over the paper. Now spread out the mixture with a small sponge brush. Use gentle brush strokes to cover the whole sheet. 

Step 4: If you are looking for a uniform texture, spread the liquid evenly. Otherwise, get creative and make various patterns with your brush. You can even sprinkle some ground coffee over the paper to add interesting textures. 

This will leave dark brown spots over the page and make it look rusty. Now take a piece of paper towel and dab the paper slowly. Let it absorb all the excess liquid but don’t let the paper dry completely. 

Step 5: Now that all is done, modify the paper as you wish. Tear the paper’s edges, curve jagged stripes, make small dents, or maybe even press it with a fork to leave imprints. Do whatever you feel like and start experimenting with it while the paper is still dry. 

The next thing to do is to place the paper inside the already-heated oven. Depending on your oven model, it will take around 4-7 minutes to dry. Keep a close look so the paper doesn’t start burning. 

When the edges of the paper start to curl up, that’s your sign to take it out of the oven. Leave it out to cool down a bit. After 10-15 minutes your antiqued paper will be ready.

Method 5: Burying Paper

Step 1: Dig a hole

Burying paper is one of the simplest methods to age paper. Take your desired piece of paper and make a crumbled ball out of it. Sprinkle the paper ball with a little bit of water. Now, simply dig a hole in your backyard and place the paper there. 

The moisture will hold onto the soil and let it smudge the sheet. If you don’t have a backyard, you can try this with your plant pot also. 

Step 2: Fill the hole 

After placing the paper ball, cover the hole again. Make sure that the paper is completely covered with soil so that it can damage and wear out the paper properly to give it a rusty look. 

After 3-14 days, the paper should be ready to retrieve. The amount of time you need to wait depends on how old you want the paper to look. If you want a slight aging, waiting 3-5 days would suffice.

How Do You Color Paper to Make It Look Old?

Keep in mind that the liquid you use will change the appearance of the paper. Water will not color the paper, but it will allow for more modifications. Tea will give the sheet a subtle brown hue, but coffee will give it a deeper tone.

Other than these, you can use regular paint to add an antique look to the paper. Choose the shade of brown that you think would suit you most and brush the entire paper with it. Crumble the paper to add textures and crease lines. 

Some people also use shoe ink to color paper and make it seem old. It adds a worn-off look to the paper and makes it look aged.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: What Does Lemon Juice Do to Paper?

Lemon juice on its own doesn’t do anything to regular paper. But if you combine lemon juice with a heat gun, you can create a burnt look on paper. Dip a cotton ball in some lemon juice and dab it onto the paper’s edges. 

Next, turn on the heat gun and apply it over the areas covered with the juice. The more heat you apply the darker it will turn. This technique is pretty simple. Practice it a few times and you’ll get the hang of it.

Q: What Paint to Use to Make Something Look Old?

To make something look old or vintage, using shades of dark brown, earth-toned colors are perfect. Use different shades of these colors and work in layers. Such as, adding details with dark brown over a lighter shade of brown would enhance it even more. 

You can also try it the other way around. Leave some brush marks behind to add texture. Another easy way to achieve a classy antique look is to use chalk paints. If your painting feels a bit too “new” for you, add a layer of chalk paint over it to achieve a dusty, earthy look.

Q: How to Age Paper with Ink Already on It?

Aging papers that already have ink on them can be slightly tricky. Conventional methods would not work in this case. First, you need to take the paper and dip it into mild hot water. Then apply glycerin or olive oil over it. 

Place the paper in the oven at 100 degrees for 10-15 minutes. This way you can protect the ink while giving the paper a burnt, aged look. It will also prevent the ink from fading or cracking over time.

Why Do I Want to Make a New Paper Look Old Instead of Purchasing Vintage Paper?

Although making your own craft paper supply can seem tiring and time-consuming, it is really worth the effort. This way you can turn any paper of your choice into antique-looking paper. You won’t have to depend on what the store has in its collection. 

You can even customize the color, hue, and texture of the paper according to your liking. These methods are super inexpensive and can be done at home very easily. You can make a large batch at a time and store them. to be cost-efficient.

Final Thought

Crafting with vintage materials can be really fun if you are into it. But getting these vintage materials on hand can be quite a hassle. Either you have to wait till these materials get old or you will have to buy them at a high price. 

But if you can create your own antiqued paper at home, that solves all the problems. So, follow the steps that were discussed here if you want to give ordinary papers an aged look. So, go and explore what you can do with these beautiful vintage papers.

Loard Eva

Hi there! I’m Eva, artist, designer, photographer and mom of three little gentlemen altogether. When I’m not playing with my kids, you’ll find me researching and writing for ChooseMarker.

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