How to Make Paper Look Old

Old-looking parchment adds believability to treasure hunting games.
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The way old paper looks, feels and smells can evoke nostalgia for bygone eras, from Celtic parchment to Egyptian papyrus to the rice paper of ancient China. Making regular paper look old is an easy way to add a little extra fun to creative projects without the prohibitive cost of obtaining the real thing. While many different methods are available to simulate aging, the two mentioned here involve simple items found in almost any kitchen.

Preheat the oven to 150 degrees. The oven will be used at the end of the aging process to dry the paper.

Use the instant coffee crystals to make a 6-ounce cup of hot coffee. Make the coffee up to four times as strong as you usually would, adding extra crystals as desired. Brew a 6-ounce cup of hot tea. The finished product will be lighter or darker depending on the strength of the tea and coffee.

Pour either the coffee or the tea into the baking pan until it is about 1/4 inch deep in the pan. Paper is thin so you won't need much more than that. Reserve the remaining coffee and tea to refill the pan as necessary. Soak paper, one sheet at a time, in the coffee or tea-filled pan for at least 10 minutes.

Carefully remove paper from pan. Lay the paper flat on the second baking pan, soaking up any pools of liquid with a paper towel.

Bake in preheated oven at 150 degrees until dried. Repeat process with additional sheets of paper.

  • Be sure to keep a close eye on the paper as it dries in the oven.
  • Try crumpling the paper into a ball and then flattening it out before soaking for a nice wrinkled look.
  • You can combine both the coffee and tea methods by soaking the pages in a solution of half coffee and half tea.
  • Sprinkle some instant coffee crystals over the wet paper before baking for a spotted, gnarled look.
  • Tear open a tea bag and sprinkle bits of the leaves all over the paper for an interesting effect.
  • Rub a dry piece of paper with a used tea bag before soaking for a feathery effect.
  • Before baking, while the paper is still wet, use a lighter to burn the edges of each page for a really neat look.

Megan Mattingly-Arthur has been writing professionally since 1998. She has contributed to various publications, including "Teen Voices" and "Positive Teens" magazines, as well as a book, "The Young Writer's Guide to Getting Published." Mattingly-Arthur is studying travel and tourism through Penn Foster Career School.