How to Make Paper Look Like Old Parchment

    by Lauren Vork

    About the Author

    Lauren Vork has been a writer for 20 years, writing both fiction and nonfiction. Her work has appeared in "The Lovelorn" online magazine and Vork holds a bachelor's degree in music performance from St. Olaf College.


    Whether you're creating an old-fashioned letter for a film or play prop or just trying to give a personal letter an interesting, antique look, effectively aging modern paper in your own home doesn't require any special materials or products. Give a piece of computer paper the look of old parchment using some simple handling techniques and household dyeing agents.

    Things You'll Need

    • Computer paper
    • Mixing bowl
    • Tea or coffee
    • Clothes iron

    Distress the paper. Since modern paper is crisper and stiffer than parchment, crumple it up to make it more supple and soft. Repeatedly uncrumple and re-crumple the paper until the creases are quite small and the paper is floppy overall.

    Fold over the edges on all four sides of the paper (make the smallest fold you can), then moisten the crease lines. Tear gently along the moistened lines; this will create edges that are even but not razor-clean like modern paper.

    Fill a mixing bowl with strong tea or coffee and pass the paper once through the liquid. Shake to remove any excess. Let the paper partially dry for a couple of minutes, then pass it through the liquid again. Repeat as many times as necessary to get the color you want. If it takes too long, mix your coffee or tea stronger.

    Dry the paper. For a rougher, older look to the paper, let it dry flat. For a more upscale or historically recent appearance, dry the paper using an iron on a cool temperature setting.

    • Instant coffee and tea are great choices for aging paper.
    • If you want computer to print on your parchment paper, print the document before aging the paper, then spray the paper with tea in an atomizer rather than soaking it.
    • Store the paper in a box with some incense or a sachet to eliminate the coffee or tea odor.


    • The Theater Props Handbook; Thurston James; 2000