How to Make Stained Paper for Your Mixed Media Art

Here’s why I stain paper:

  • I love the organic/random look

  • Stark white paper doesn’t fit my style

  • Treating my paper and giving it color is a good place to begin (another way to fight the Fear of the Blank Canvas)

  • By using paper that has been treated with the same staining mixtures, the colors create unity in my work

Here’s an example of the way I use stained paper in my printmaking:

©Carol Ann Webster  Monoprint on stained paper

This is an 11x15 piece of Speedball Arnhem Printmaking Paper.

Steps for Staining Paper:

Pour about a quart of old coffee, the stronger, the better, into a pan big enough to hold the coffee and your paper.

Dip the paper in making sure both sides are wet with coffee.

stained paper dip in coffee.jpg

Lay all of the sheets out on a piece of plastic sheeting. I like to stain a bunch of papers at once.

stained paper wet.jpg

Let the puddles of coffee stay on the papers. They will eventually dry and leave a lovely stain.

While the papers are wet, treat them with the following:

Denatured alcohol

stained paper alcohol.jpg

Spritz or sprinkle a few drops of denatured alcohol over the wet papers. It will make dark stains a little like rust or mildew on the paper.


stained paper vinegar.jpg

Vinegar sprinkled over wet paper makes white spots show up.

Instant Coffee Crystals

stained paper instant coffee.jpg

Pinch a few crystals between your fingertips and let them fall on the wet paper. They will melt and leave tiny dark spots.

Here’s an example of all these techniques on one sheet of paper. I like to treat many sheets of paper at the same time.

stained paper for art.jpg

It’s important that the papers be allowed to dry without moving them. If you move the wet papers, the patterns you have created will be lost.

They will dry pretty flat and ready for more artwork.

stained paper backs.jpg

These are the backs of the dry papers. Even if you don’t like look on the front, you always have the interesting backs to use for your art.

The papers are now ready for whatever technique you have in mind.

Supplies needed to Stain Papers:

  • Any pan big enough to dip paper

  • Printmaking paper (I like Speedball Arnhem Paper)

  • Old coffee

  • Denatured alcohol

  • Vinegar

  • Instant coffee crystals

  • Plastic sheeting

©Carol Ann Webster  Learn how to make stained papers for your art

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