January 22, 2012

The Letters/Invitations--How to Stain Your Paper tutorial

There are six parts to this post, although I've split them up for ease of reading. This is the fifth post.

Table of Contents:
5. How to stain your paper


Items needed:
-Paper (NOTE: You should have already printed on the paper, as it is very unwise to print on the paper after it has been coloured. If you have an ink printer the ink will likely run. It is recommended that you use a laserjet printer for this activity)
-Tea (the kind does not matter but a brown or orange tea is preferable because this is the colour your paper will turn)
-Instant Coffee (optional, but adds a cool effect)
-Cookie trays/jelly roll pans (15"x1"x10" pan. Although any oven-safe pan that fits a piece of paper onto it should be fine)
-Newspaper or rags to put the paper on afterwards to dry
-Heavy flat objects to put on the paper afterwards to flatten it

  • Make a pot of tea. After it is done brewing I prefer putting it into bowls because you'll be scooping it on and off of the cookie trays.
  • Heat your oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. While it is warming up put the paper on the cookie sheet and spoon the tea over it. The tea can be hot or cold, but it stains better warm (I'm telling this so you know that you can store it in a container if you want and finish staining later or something). Try to cover the whole paper with tea.
  • Crush some of the instant coffee and sprinkle it over the paper. Allow it to clump in some areas -- this stains the paper darker in that area and makes for a neat effect.
  • Let the instant coffee sit on the paper for 1-2 minutes, then flip it over and repeat with the spooning of the tea and the sprinkling of the instant coffee on the other side
  • Take the paper off the pan and drain the tea back into the bowl. You might also want to dry the pan with a rag before the next step to prevent stains (recommended to use an older cookie tray for that reason)
  • Put the paper printed (ink) side up back onto the cookie tray and bake it in the oven for 5-8 minutes (depending on how long it takes the paper to dry)
  • Remove the paper from the oven and put on newspaper with books on top to flatten it out
  • Tadaa! Some people might also recommend burning the edges, but we didn't do that. We thought it looked old enough without the burning.
Other mentionable information:
  • The tea will gradually get darker with each paper you stain due to the coffee granules, so you might want to replace it now and then
  • If you want a darker stain, use brewed coffee instead of the tea
  • You don't have to let the coffee granules sit on the paper, but they soak in better if you do (this is if you're strapped for time)
  • You can store the tea in a container and use it to stain paper later on
  • You might want to have two or three cookie trays of these sheets going at once so that you will always have another piece of paper ready to put in after one finishes baking (we rotated two in and out of the oven, i.e. one was in the oven while we prepared the second one)
**If you came here from the Marauder's Map post, you can use the link to return**

You can also stain the envelopes, if you wish. We did the inner envelopes only because I'm sure the people mailing your letters wouldn't be impressed with the stained envelope, should it be on the outside.
Our advice for staining the envelopes is as such:

1.    Print on the envelope FIRST, UNLESS you don't have an envelope-compatible printer, in which case you will have to stain the envelope and then write on it by hand
2.    Leave the flap of the envelope open so that it does not stick down to the rest of the letter while baking (although it may stick to the pan, which is why it is important to use an older pan! If you soak it in a bit of water it comes off)
3.    Put the envelope ink side-up, unless you are writing on it by hand after it has been stained. If the ink has gone on first, however, ink side MUST go up otherwise it may stick to the bottom of the pan and come off.
4.    Envelopes take a bit longer to dry in the oven -- probably more like 6-10 minutes

I hope that this helps you!

The Acceptance letters, Equipment letters, and Platform 9 3/4 tickets went inside the stained inner envelopes. We stained the Acceptance letters and the Equipment letters and also many other things, such as the papers that went into the Goblet of Fire and our Marauder's Maps.

>>Link to Table of Contents


  1. i love how you put so much thought into your work and then give us fans so many different options! (files [pdf, pics etc.] use coffee or tea, wax or glue etc.) You are amazing <3 by FAR my favourite blog ever :D

  2. I used this Marauder's Map to ask my Harry Potter-obsessed friend to the snoball dance. Thanks for the help!

  3. this is amazing thanks so much for doing it really helps the fans who cant afford the merchandise

  4. Hi, just a question: I tried staining an envelope but it came apart and started ripping at the edges. Did you have this problem?

  5. THanks! this worked Great!!!!

  6. Thank you so much!! It really helped!!!

  7. I've ripped the paper around the edges prior to staining for a more rugged look. We'll see how it turns out!

  8. I'm going to use this to make my own Harry Potter shoes and matching bag! So excited to try this, there are amazing ideas here! :D

  9. Can you draw on the paper with a pen after staining the paper?

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