How to Make an Ancient Greek Scroll

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Recreating an ancient Greek scroll is an effective project for elementary, middle and high school class projects, and a great way to learn about ancient Greek history and culture. Having students write reports about Greek culture or illustrate Greek mythologies on their scrolls is more interesting and engaging than using regular white paper. By following a few basic steps, a new piece of paper can have the character of a very ancient Greek scroll.

Other types of tea can be used, but black tea will be the most effective.
  • Large piece of white or creme cardstock or illustration paper
  • Five or more black tea bags
  • Tea kettle or pot
  • Lighter or stove
  • Two wooden dowels
  • Glue
  • Clothespins
  • Clothesline

1 Brew a pot of black tea

Brew a pot of black tea, using about five teabags. Keep the tea bags after brewing.

Be generous with how much tea is soaking into your paper.

2 Set out a towel to work on

Set out a towel to work on, or use a surface that can be stained. Lay out your large piece of paper. Soak one of the tea bags and lay it on the paper. Let the tea soak into the paper, staining it to give it an aged effect. Continue to do the same with the rest of the tea bags. Use some of the bags like a paintbrush to wash the tea color onto your paper. Continue until the paper is completely covered.

Line drying your paper is the quickest and easiest way to get it to dry.

3 Line dry your piece of paper

Line dry your piece of paper. Once dry, repeat the tea staining process on the other side and line dry again. If it is not dark enough, you can always add more stain to the dry paper.

Greek mythology is full of interesting scenes to illustrate.

4 Print Greek mythology

Print Greek mythology with a black ink pen in columns going from left to right. Alternatively, assign students to write their report about Greece or Greek history on the scroll, and have them illustrate their story in a Greek style, including figures from ancient Greek art and mythology, or sets of Greek letters to give their scroll more character.

Use caution when using a lighter.

5 To give it

Crinkle parts of the paper to give it age. You can take a lighter or use the stove and burn off some of the edges to make it look more weathered.

Wrapping the scroll in a large rubber band is also effective for this step.

6 Curl both sides

Curl both sides of the paper all the way until they meet in the middle. Put two solid objects (like a heavy book) on each side of the curled paper and a light stack of paper (about 10 sheets of regular letter size paper) on top to hold it in place. Open it up after a couple of hours. The curls should now stay and it should look like a scroll.

Having wooden dowels can make your scroll look more realistic.

7 Glue the wooden dowels to the edges of the paper

Glue the wooden dowels to the edges of the paper so that it will end up being seen inside of the curls. Allow to dry. This is an optional step, but gives your scroll more character.

  • Stay close to the sink when burning the edges in case anything catches fire.
  • If you are going to write on your scroll, do so after staining the paper and before burning the edges.

Naomi Valdivia is an illustrator, designer and crafter who began writing professionally in 2008. She graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in communication arts from Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles.