Aged paper tutorial & handwritten invitations

The vintagey Alice in Wonderland party is slowly materializing after hours of brainstorming. This summer I’m working at a factory sewing cushions for lawn furniture. The job requires little creativity. The monotony of my job gives me a lot of time to think, and I often wish for a job requiring more creative output. In the first weeks there, I resolved to plan and execute an Alice in Wonderland tea party.

I know this party theme can easily be found online, but I really think I dreamed it up myself. 🙂 I read Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass two years ago and was intrigued by Lewis Carroll’s imagination and quaint turn of phrase as he leads his readers through a little girl’s dream. After reading the book, I wanted to host a tea party with that theme. Cakes that say ‘eat me’, something with treacle, tarts no one stole, and maybe a croquet game at the end. I started looking for ideas online, but I gave up in disgust. The ideas I found took the theme much further than I wanted to. I didn’t know how to do it halfway. Then I had a ‘duh, Hannah’ moment. The idea popped into my head after I read the book, right? Well then why couldn’t I dream up the rest of it? Why was I cramped by someone else’s style and ideas?

So these are mostly my ideas. I looked up ideas for decorations that fit the vintage feel I wanted. Those will not be completely original. I found an invitation with a message nearly as quirky as mine that helped inspire mine. I pulled in as many allusions to the book as I could while still conveying the message I wanted.

I wrote the invitations on calligraphy paper with a copperplate nib. Copperplate nibs are pointed nibs that separate in the middle when pressed down. Pulling the pen down, applies pressure which makes the two sides separate and creates a wider line as the ink flows between the two sides. Sorry, that sounds really confusing. If you’re visual like me, go find a picture online.

And now finally the tutorial. . . . And again, my apologies. I started playing and couldn’t stop so you have a complicated looking tutorial for a very simple process! Below you’ll find the whole list without pictures.

1. Brew a few cups of coffee. Regular strength or cold, day old coffee works fine!

2. Pour coffee into a shallow pan. Submerge the paper into the coffee, making sure to get rid of air bubbles.

3.Allow the paper to absorb the coffee until it reaches the desired color. Ten seconds was enough for mine.

4.Lay the paper on a flat surface. I used wax paper with good results, although parchment paper may have absorbed the liquid more quickly.

And that’s it! I scanned the original and printed copies onto calligraphy paper because I’m new at calligraphy and I didn’t have four hours to waste when I could easily make copies of my own writing. An inkjet printer worked fine–I feared the ink would run when I put in coffee, but it didn’t. This method works great on regular copy paper as well.

The original paper after coffee dying. (If you look very closely you can see how the nib splits in the middle. :))

I lined the envelopes with scrapbooking paper and old book pages. It’s really easy–trace the envelope on the back of the paper you want to use, then trim a quarter inch off each edge except the bottom which a half inch trim, and use double-sided tape to adhere.

Unfortunately the ink bled on the envelopes, so I used a Sharpie pen and thickened the down-strokes.

And here’s everything finished! I felt very satisfied when I stacked them in the mailbox and put up the flag.

The party is August 3rd, so you’ll have to wait awhile to see the rest. Stop by next week for a handmade wedding gift idea.

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4 thoughts on “Aged paper tutorial & handwritten invitations

  1. Oh, that sounds so fun. I may have to do that or a variation and invite some friends when the weather gets cooler. How fun. Thanks for sharing.

    Visiting from Texture Tuesday

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