Saturday, March 1, 2008

Scrapbooking 201: Distressing Paper Techniques

There are many ways of distressing paper. Why would you want to distress it? Firstly, to give your paper depth. Secondly, perhaps your paper is too bright or not quite the right color, you can just change it. Lastly, give your paper a more antiqued or aged look and feel. So I will share with you a number of ways to distress your paper. If at any point in time your paper is too crumpled for your layout, you can take a hot iron and smooth out some of the wrinkles. I highly recommend practicing any of these given methods, as it will give you a better feel for how to achieve the look you desire before tackling your final creation.

These are a few of the different methods for distressing your paper:

* Crump, Crease, or Crimp
* Tearing
* Sanding
* Inking & chalking
* Staining

Crump, Crease, or Crimp paper

Crumpling. Take your paper and wad it into a loose ball. Thin paper crumples easier, but you can simply crumple and re-crumple thicker paper to get the same look. Paper does have a grain to it. If you hold your paper (before you crumple it) you will see that it bends more one way or the other. In order to get a good crumple look, you may need to break the grain of the paper by using you finger to gently knead the paper.

Crumpling when wet. By sprinkling water or misting paper with warm water you can get it to distress even further. You need to be careful when you crumple and unfold as the paper could tear, but on the other hand, you may just like the torn look. This technique works well on thicker paper or cardstock. You will have to let your paper dry completely before you use it. You can always use a hot iron or embossing heat gun to help it dry faster.

Creasing. Another technique is to take your paper and fold it like a map. Then refold it again, just in a different direction. This adds a great aged look to your paper.

Crimping. You can also add a softer texture to your paper by running it through a crimper or corrugator once or twice in different directions.

Tearing paper

Get out some of your aggressions and just tear your papers! You can achieve two different effects with tearing: torn paper with a white edge that gives the appearance of a mat; and torn paper without the white edges. To create the white edge, while holding the paper in front of you in your left hand, tear the paper towards you with your right hand. For less white, tear away from you. You can always ink or chalk the edges to make a different look.

Sanding Paper

This removes some of the color from your paper. While crumpling and creasing can be used on any paper, sanding works best on paper that has a light colored core. The sanding allows the lighter color to show through the darker colors. Basically this technique involves gently running sand paper over your paper to scratch off some of the surface. Finer grit sand paper gives a subtle look and coarser grit sand paper removes more of the paper for a more rustic look. It is better to start with a finer grit and then move up to more, until you get a good feel for the look you are trying to achieve. You can use this same technique on crumpled paper for a more dramatic look. You can also sand paper on your photos and stickers to give them a more aged look. Make sure you sand our work on the edges. You can make a nice mock "linen" look by doing a horizontal and then vertical direction on your paper.

Inking and Chalking

Chalking. You can add color to your pages using chalks or inks. Chalks are usually more subtle than inks. One nice thing about chalk is that if you make a mistake you can erase it. Chalks can be applied several ways including with a cotton ball, cotton swap, make-up applicator, sponge dauber, or even brush with water.

Inking. Inks can give a more aged look to your paper but may require a bit of practice to get the look you want. Inks can be applied with a make-up applicator, sponges, finger sponge dauber, stencil brushes, rubber stamps, or direct ink pad to paper. You can add color to your pages using chalks or inks. There are also some new distressing inks on the market that you can use. With these you can crumple your paper, apply ink direct to paper from ink pad hitting the "mountains" only on your crumpled paper. Then take a spritzer bottle and mist water onto the inks and paper, the inks will run color into the "valley's" on your crumpled paper. Using a hot craft iron, iron out the crumpled paper, this will dry it and set the ink, turns out just gorgous.


Staining is another fun way to add a great aged look to your work, but should be used with care, as some methods described below are not completely "acid free" methods of aging your work unlike the acid free chalks and inking methods.

Walnut Ink: Mix walnut ink or crystals with distilled water, then simply dip, paint, or spray the solution on the item you want to age. You can either simply wait for the project to dry or use an iron to speed up the process.

Tea and Coffee Dyeing: Bring distilled water to a boil and add a bunch of tea bags. After your solution has cooled down, pour it into a shallow pan (like a cookie sheet with sides). Place the items you wish to stain into the mixture until they appear darker then simply iron dry or wait for them to air-dry. You can also use instant coffee crystals.

Acid Free Staining: If you would the similar look of walnut ink staining, you can try using a bottle of dark brown ink that is acid free and mix with water.

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