High School History Art Project

The Young Man came home the other day and told me about a project/assignment he had for history. he had to write 5-10 entries in a journal of a character to be assigned on the Oregon Trail. He was assigned an 18 year old young man with $45 dollars. We brainstormed a little bit on the content and then he said he wanted to make the paper look old for extra credit.

I thought about this and suggested tea dyeing. I am not a tea dyeing kind of girl, nor do I do much with paper arts, but I thought I could make this happen. After work, on my way to the gym I asked him to let his tea bags dry out a little bit and determined to do the tea dyeing when I got home.

When I got home, he found me the ‘old looking paper’ he wanted to use. This was interesting, because it turned out to be college ruled binder paper. Huh? I wasn’t in the mood to argue and it was his project.

I spread the paper out on the kitchen counter and squeezed and rubbed the tea bags on the paper. To dry them, I microwaved the paper on high for 10-20 seconds. The effect was ok, but not as dark as the Y.M. had hoped. He did a second round with the tea bags, which made it better, but still not great.

Cinnamon 'Dyeing'
Cinnamon ‘Dyeing’

After dinner, as I was tidying up, I spied my giant bottle of cinnamon. It is the right color, so I poured some on the paper and rubbed with my fingers. The paper was really gritty, but also way more brown than the tea and not wet. The Y.M. was really happy with the effect.

Once the paper was finished, he took it and began writing the entries.

In the morning, I cut a piece of my book binding thread and, on the way to the train, I told him how to ‘bind‘ the papers together and tie them off. He didn’t take the time to make a cover, but, for the short time we had to do the extra parts of the project, I thought it looked good. I hope his teacher agrees, especially since the project smells like cinnamon.
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Author: JayeL

Quiltmaker who enjoys writing and frozen chocolate covered bananas.

8 thoughts on “High School History Art Project”

  1. I wonder if the teacher will notice the lined paper? 🙂 I remember doing something like that with my children when I home schooled. They had to write a journal of a child their age in the new colonies. Can’t remember what I did to age the paper though. Great idea about using cinnamon.

    1. The Young Man didn’t have very much time to do the project otherwise I would have gotten some older looking paper. Even that really nice resume paper we used to use would have looked better. It was fun.

  2. Have to laugh–I had a similar assignment, only I had to write a “journal” for one of the Romanov princesses. I didn’t know about tea-dyeing (coffee also works well), but one of my classmates burned the edges of her journal to make it look more authentic. Crumpling the paper first and smoothing it before dying also helps enhance the antique effect.

    But the grit of the cinnamon will make it feel like it was carried on the trail. Nice thinking!

    1. I bet you were an awesome Romanov princess. The Young Man definitely did some crumpling afterwards, but it is a good tip to do it before. Some of the creases would have ended up darker. I’ll remember that. I didn’t think of the grit factor, but that is an added bonus.

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