How to Make Ink Appear Old

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Things You'll Need

  • Piece of paper

  • Fountain pen filled with ink

  • 1/2 cup black coffee

  • 1 metal container

  • 1 spoon

  • Oven

Image Credit: John Foxx/Stockbyte/Getty Images

When aging a document for an art project or for a decorative effect, one of the most difficult aspects is making new ink appear old. One way to make ink look old is to create the ink using an ink recipe, however this process takes time and can be rather complicated, calling for ingredients that are hard to obtain. The easiest way to make a document look aged is to write on the paper first, and then use a technique to age the paper. As a result, the ink will appear aged as well.


Step 1

Brew a cup of very strong black coffee, either instant or by normal brewing methods. Keep the coffee grounds separate for later use. Alternatively, use tea if you do not have coffee, but the results will not be as dramatic. Add vinegar, lemon juice or wine into the coffee to give the paper a yellowed effect.


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Step 2

Practice different fonts and handwriting styles using a fountain pen to achieve an antique look. Write the appropriate message on a piece of paper. Copy paper will work, but experiment with slightly heavier grades of paper for different effects. Let the ink on the paper dry.

Step 3

Place the piece of paper in a non-metal baking container. A baking pan with dimensions larger than the paper works the best, such as a 9"x13" cookie sheet or cake pan for an 8" X 11" piece of paper, so that you can easily soak the paper all at once.


Step 4

Pour the coffee into the pan or cookie sheet, over the paper, covering it completely. Sprinkle the coffee grounds or instant coffee crystals onto the top of the paper, and leave for approximately 2 minutes. The longer the coffee grounds are left on the paper, the greater the effect will be.


Step 5

Drain the coffee from the pan into the sink and dab the paper lightly with a paper towel to soak up any extra liquid. The paper should be uniformly damp or wet, with no pools of liquid in the corners.

Step 6

Place the pan containing the paper into the oven and bake at a low setting (about 200 degrees Fahrenheit) for 5-10 minutes until dry. By baking on the lowest rack in the oven, the paper will be drier and tend to curl about the edges. Setting a cookie sheet on top of the container while baking will ensure that the paper does not warp. You can also dry the paper in the microwave or by ironing, as long as the paper is already partially dry.


After baking, press between two books to prevent curling or warping.

Before wetting with coffee, try crumpling the paper for a distinct weathered look.


Never leave the stove unattended. Watch the paper at all times to make sure it does not catch fire.


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