Picture of Tea-dying
Sometimes you want things to look old and musty, as though you just took them out of the attic. Here's one way you can accomplish that.
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Step 1: Gather Materials

You will need:

Materials to be dyed. These should be primarily of silk or cotton, or an animal or plant based fibre. Not all of these dye equally, so be prepared to experiment.

Tea. It can be any kind, as long as it primarily contains tea leaves. If you have something old lying around, but hate drinking tea, now's your chance to get rid of it. Coffee will also work, and you can use coffee grounds that have already been brewed. It gives browner colours than tea. If you do use coffee grounds, makes sure to tie them up in a loose woven cotton like cheese cloth, or double layer of nylon tulle so you don't have to pick the grounds out of your dyed material.

Boiling hot water. Don't burn yourself.

A bowl or vessel to hold your materials being dyed and the tea/coffee grounds to dye them with. Make sure there's enough room for your materials to move around freely without the hot water spilling.

Step 2: Dying

Picture of dying
Place your materials to be dyed into the bowl Pour enough boiling water on them just to cover. You don't want to dilute your tea too much, or it will take much longer to dye.

Put the tea into the boiling water., and poke at it a bit, to get the dye to disperse. Add more tea, if necessary. When you think there's enough tea in the water, go find something to do for a while, while you wait for the material to dye. It can take anywhere from a few minutes for a light tint to an hour or more for darker colours. If you need a really dark colour, you'll get the best results from several dye sessions.

The cloth to the right of the bowl is what I was aiming to match the lace to during this project.
wow it makes them look a little vintage,i love it
Sprinkling (by crumbling it between your fingers) a small amount of instant coffee over the material before drying creates a nice effect, like those little brown spots in old stuff that aged extra much and became a little browner. Nice tutorial.
PearlZenith (author)  LarrySDonald5 years ago
Good idea. I don't drink instant, so never would have thought of that, but it seems similar to the technique of using glauber salt when dying and painting silks.
I don't either really. I saw it suggested on a documentary on art forgery (in this case rather lame forgery - basically making something that passed first glance and sold to dealers under the impression that you had no idea what it was worth basically asking them to rip you off). After seeing the results it looked kind of cool (with tea staining) so I did an old looking charcoal sketch of Spongebob and it turned out pretty cool.
PearlZenith (author)  LarrySDonald5 years ago
Heh, that's an interesting use of 'aging' things. I have quite a few friends who really enjoy Steampunk; maybe I can age some photos if I print them onto nice heavy coverstock and use them as gifts. Do you have photos of how your sketch turned out?
Unfortunately no. It was quite a long time ago and I ended up losing the few scans I made of it and the sketch itself. I basically traced it with charcoal on rough sketch paper from a heavy line-art printout using soft charcoal. It looked like a very old document, which was sort of the interesting part - it's clearly contemporary due to the subject matter :-).
lemonie5 years ago
Tea is better than coffee, or about the same? L
PearlZenith (author)  lemonie5 years ago
They're just different. Tea gives orangier colours, coffee gives browner colours. Try both, and see what you like.
Ta L
Ha, at first i thought it said TIE-dye. Heh. Good idea, it works with paper too :D
PearlZenith (author)  watermelonhead5 years ago
Yeah, that's true. I wasn't even thinking about that, but I have dyed paper for projects when I was in school and wanted to make them look more interesting.
My 5th grade techer called it 'oldifiying'