Need a fake treasure map to use as an advertising flyer for your small business? Or maybe you’d like to pull a prank on your business associates by claiming archaeologists found old, original documents for your company–but you need some old-looking paper to supply that claim of ‘authenticity.’ Here’s how to produce your own aged paper.
Use the legal-sized sheet of paper for your map, which will lead party-goers to the pirate’s treasure–or maybe just the haunted house with ghosts. First, lay the sheet of paper in the cookie sheet. Then slowly pour a little of the cold tea from the glass over the paper, moving your hand across the whole sheet, gradually covering most of the surface with a very thin film of tea. Pick up the paper and tilt it so the extra tea runs off, back onto the cookie sheet. Let the paper dry, in the sunshine if possible. If the paper doesn’t have an ‘old enough’ look, repeat the cold tea bath and dry it once again. Once it’s thoroughly dried, carefully tear a tiny strip of paper off from each edge, leaving it looking ragged and mouse-nibbled. If you want, you can also light the candle and let the candle smoke ‘scorch’ the paper. Now draw your map by hand across the old-looking surface, using the gray or red felt-tipped pen. (You don’t want the lines too thick or black–they won’t look aged enough. But a rusty-red ink might look like it was drawn in blood a hundred years or so ago.) Let the ink dry. Starting at the left, or west, side of the map, roll it up like an old scroll. Tie it with an old leather shoelace if you have one. Now you have a pirate’s map that Bluebeard might have drawn. For other old, aged-looking paper, use the same cookie sheet and either a cold tea or strong, cold coffee ‘bath’ for however many sheets of paper you need. If you want, you can alternate the cold tea and cold coffee baths to get just the right amount of ‘darkening due to age’ for the paper. Let the sheet or sheets of paper dry in the sunlight before you either hand-letter or print your document on them.
Want the paper to look even older? Fold it in thirds before the paper is entirely dry, and repeatedly press down the folds. Open the sheet or sheets of paper up again, and let them dry. Then lightly run the fine-grade sandpaper across the folds on the front of the paper and especially the back of the folds, so the paper looks like it’s been folded a very long time. You’ll have to hand-print whatever information you wanted on the paper, or else run the paper through your printer before you put any wrinkles in it. Wrinkled paper can cause many printers to jam. Add wrinkles to the paper by first using the tea or coffee ‘bath’ on it and drying it. Then take an ice cube and wet the paper in just a couple of places. Rub the dampened areas lightly with your fingertips, causing wrinkles to form. Let the paper dry again. Print your document or information on the sheet or sheets of paper first. Next, give the paper its tea or coffee ‘bath,’ then use the candle smoke to ‘scorch’ the paper. Fold the paper repeatedly and sandpaper the folds lightly; add wrinkles with an ice cube and finally, after the sheets are dry, slowly sprinkle the dab of potting soil or dirt over the surface. Rub the dirt into the paper’s surface using a light touch of your fingertips. Shake off any extra potting soil or dirt. Anybody for 100-year-old paper?