Tea-Dyed Paper

I’ve always wanted to do this: tea-dye paper. I’ve been wanting new surfaces to draw on other than my moleskine, and decided to experiment with tea-dying which gives paper a nice aged look. So, I decided to wing it without instructions.

I created 3 different baths. The first was a combination of 7 mint green and roobios red teas in 4 cups of boiling water. The second was 8 bags of black and chai tea in 2 cups of boiling water. And the third was the rest of the pot of my medium roast coffee. The first two baths were allowed to steep for about 30 minutes, with occasional stirring.

Next, I decided to use 140 lb. Strathmore white archival watercolor paper for the transformation since it’s made to handle water well, and I was planning on dunking it for 20 minutes. I trimmed down a few small pieces to perform a litmus test, and noticed just how nice the tooth was on the rough sheet.

I dunked the litmus slips for 20 minutes, and got some surprising results when I pulled them out. From left to right, here’s the line-up: white (no bath), light antique brown (coffee bath), soft warm tan (red/green tea bath), and a rich citrine color (chai/black tea bath). That last bath was seriously strong, both in aroma and color.

I started ripping down medium sized pieces of the Strathmore, when I remembered that I had a stash of old acrylic-painted paper from 6 years ago—perfect to add to the experiment. I gathered small pebbles from the backyard to hold down the sheets from the edges.

The results were beautiful. The Strathmore white sheets matched the litmus tests exactly on all 3 accounts. However, I think the acrylic-painted sheets produced some unexpected magic. I didn’t want to spoil the results, so stay tuned as I work my way through some new illustrations on these dyed sheets to share with you here.

If you have any specific paper-dying questions, ask away and I’ll do my best to provide some insight.

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5 Responses to Tea-Dyed Paper

  1. Simon Nystad says:

    Not only do you get a new drawing surface, but also a cool texture!

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  3. kellie says:

    Great tutorial. many thanks :)

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