It’s become something of a rite of passage to make a replica of the Magna Carta or other historical document for school, and you’ll naturally want yours to look as authentic as possible. The first step is to use a standard paper bag instead of white paper; the density, texture, and colour is closer to what the ancients would have been used to. Find an old paper bag, and you’re ready to go.
The best way to achieve an aged feel and appearance is by using tea. Soak three or four bags in a bowl filled with four cups of hot water for around 15 minutes. Remember to use normal black tea for the best effect. Wait until the tea has cooled completely before continuing.
While the tea is cooling, take your paper bag and cut out one of the sides to produce a piece which is roughly A4 sized. Use a pencil and ruler to make sure that the measurements are correct.
Once the tea has cooled off, take your paper and dip it quickly into the liquid and then right out again. Now lay it to the side to dry on a sheet of wax paper. Remember not to place it on any service which will stain! As it dries, you’ll notice that the colour naturally darkens towards the edges, creating a more authentic appearance.
You can take that further in a couple of ways. Firstly, try taking a watercolour paintbrush and applying a second coat of the tea water directly to the edges of the paper, as well as anywhere else you’d like the colour to be deeper. Just remember to let the paper dry off between each coat if you’re going to do this more than one. You can also sprinkle loose black tea along the paper to produce pockmarks.
Your standard paper bag will now have the appearance of a centuries-old manuscript – all that’s left is to write on it. Fountain pens using black ink make the most authentic writing, but just remember to let the paper dry completely before you begin.
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