[ Step 1 ]
I started out brewing 5 tea bags (black tea) in 2 cups of water. You don’t want to put too much water, because you want the tea to be highly concentrated. Make sure to let the tea cool down enough so you don’t burn your hands when dipping the paper in the tea. Or make sure you use tongs if tea is still hot.
[ Step 2 ]
While the tea is cooling, from your computer print black and white print outs of either music sheets, vintage images, handwritten letters, vintage labels, etc. You can find these on the internet but make sure they are at a high resolution (1600-2500px) for clarity. If the images are too low resolution, they will appear soft and pixelated when printing them out.
Next, I take the print outs and crumble them. This will create natural looking creases that will be darkened by the tea. Also to add to the aged look, you can tear small irregular pieces from the edges of the pages so the edges aren’t perfectly straight.
[ Step 3 ]
After crumbling the page you want to straighten it before placing it in the brewed tea (I found out that if you don’t straighten the paper completely, the tea can not get into those creases and those areas will remain white). After straightening the printout, submerge the entire page into the tea, making sure every area of the paper is completely covered with tea. The amount of time you decide to let it soak depends on how deep of a tone you want to create. The less time the less deep the amber. The more vintage look you want to achieve, the longer you let it soak (5+ minutes). I encourage you to experiment with different lengths for different shades of amber.
[ Step 4 ]
Carefully remove the page from the tea. You will find that the paper is soft and fragile, so make sure not to tear the paper as you are removing it. I also discovered if you happen to create little tears that only adds to the aged look. Try to let most of the liquid drip off the page before laying it out to dry.
[ Step 5 ]
You can try to hang the pages when drying, but I felt like the pages were too fragile to hang, so I just laid them out on a table outside my studio in the sun to let dry. As the pages dry they will get stiff and feel more durable. You can also choose to use a hair dryer to speed up the drying time.
[ Results ]
You can see the comparison from the straight print out version to the tea dyed version. The results are a real aged paper look!
You can see how the creases in the paper came out darker then the overall tone, which adds to the aged look.
The 2 cups of tea went a long way. I was able to dye a batch of pages. Now I’m ready to start using them in my collage 🙂
[ Final Touch ]
Before collaging, I simply tear a small piece (or corner) of the tea dyed page. I then took a semi dried up ink pad (dark brown) or you can use Tim Holtz Distress Ink Pads, and lightly rubbed the edges of the torn piece and over the creases to enhance the aged feel.