{TUTORIAL} How to Make Book Pages Look Old

It's no secret that our home is filled with an abundance of book page décor, and it's only rivaled by monograms and burlap!  But, finding old books that don't smell musty and well ... just OLD, is hard to do.  I love the character of aged book pages, but not the scent of years of being stored in dark, damp spaces. 

Fortunately, years ago I discovered that you can give not-so-old books an aged appearance, thanks to tea staining.

And, it takes very few supplies:

~~Book pages
~~8 tea bags
~~Baking sheet
~~Rectangular dish
~~Paint brush
~~3 cups water

Will show you three different methods for applying the tea to the book pages:  Soaking in tea solution, applying tea solution with a paint brush, and applying tea solution with a tea bag.

The longer the pages soak in the tea solution, the darker they get.  Or, if you're using the brush on method with a paint brush or tea bag, the pages become darker with each application. 

Let's get started!

To begin, preheat oven to 170 degrees. 

In a saucepan, bring 3 cups of water to boil and drop in 8 tea bags and boil for 4 minutes.  Let cool to the touch. 

After tea solution has cooled, you're ready to apply it to the book pages using one of three methods I mentioned above.  There are many more processes for tea staining, but these are the ones that I have tried so far and am familiar with:

To soak, pour tea solution in rectangular dish.  Place book page in tea solution and submerge.  Longer soak results in darker page.

To use paint brush, dip brush into the tea solution and apply evenly to the book page.  Carefully flip page to opposite side and repeat.  Continue until book page reaches desired color intensity.

To use tea bag as applicator, remove tea bag from tea solution but do not squeeze out excess liquid.  Wipe wet tea bag across page using instructions above for paint brush application.

Now that the pages are soaked with tea, we're ready for the last step - drying.

Place single layer of tea soaked pages on baking sheet without overlapping.  Bake in 170 degree oven for 3 minutes.  Carefully flip pages over and bake another 3 minutes.  Remove pages from baking sheet and repeat for additional pages. 

Note:  The book pages can be torn into strips prior to tea staining, if your craft requires strips instead of whole pages.

Another variation is to crumple the book pages prior to tea staining - just wad them up tightly into a ball, then unfold and proceed with tea staining.  This will give you a dried page that is slightly crumpled - a great look for making scrolls.

To give you an idea of the difference tea staining can make, see below:

I have also tried using strong coffee for staining, but found it had a lingering "aroma" that, to me, mimicked that of musty old books - why couldn't it instead smell like a quaint little coffee shop?  I prefer the tea because it doesn't leave a lingering scent.

You now have new book pages that look as if they've been sitting on a bookshelf for ages.  They're all set for using in crafts and décor items for your home or for gifts.

Wondering how you can use book pages in your décor?  Below are a few examples in our home:

Will be back soon with Fall and Christmas décor that contain even more book pages.  You've been warned! 

Thanks again for stopping by and I hope you give tea staining a try!

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  1. I'm definitely trying this. Thanks for sharing.

  2. What a cool use for book pages! Thanks for sharing at the Weekend Blog Hop (www.myflagstaffhome.com).


  3. Thanks for the tips on tea staining. I like the method of using the tea bags. It's so hot here, I'd just let the pages air dry!

  4. Thanks Carolyn for this fabulous tip! I will definitely be using it during the holidays because I plan on doing Christmas sheet music ornaments this year.

  5. I used to do a lot of sewing of primitive wares and I always added some vanilla extract to the coffee and that was a lovely smell. And on some of the items (made dolls) I would smear a bit of cinnamon on the finished product before it got baked in the oven. I've tea-stained doilies and other fabrics as well. Lots of little tricks to make things look aged. Have a good week! Diane (Visiting from Sundays at Home)