Posts tagged: aging paper

Old – “Ancient” Treasure Maps & Treasure Hunt (Weekly Unplugged Project)

By , June 22, 2008 10:48 pm


The theme for this week’s Unplugged Project is “old.” It was a hard choice for me since I thought of many fun options, but…

My now 6 year-old son has always been somewhat obsessed with maps. Since, at the moment, he really enjoys drawing “treasure maps,” I ultimately decided that he might enjoy making a treasure map that really looked old.

When I was a child, in art class once we antiqued cards by burning the edges with a candle, gluing them onto wood, and then coating them with shellac to make them look yellowed and ancient. For some reason I LOVED this project. In fact I loved it enough to remember it to this day, and trust me, it was quite a while ago!

Well, I didn’t have any shellac on hand, but I have heard that similar results can be obtained with coffee or tea. So, we gave it a go. I followed the basic instructions for How to Antique Paper from Curbly blogger, DIY Maven. We then embellished a bit. Here’s what we did:


We needed brewed coffee or tea, instant coffee granules, a Sharpie (permanent marker), some plain white paper (I used computer printer paper), a baking sheet with a rim, some paper towels, and an oven:

First we drew our maps with the Sharpie. The kids loved this of course, and each made several:

Then we crumpled the maps and flattened them out again to create wrinkles:

Next came the really fun part. We laid the maps side by side on the rimmed baking sheets and poured coffee on them. You don’t need much, a cup probably would have sufficed. I don’t know what I was thinking when I made a whole 4 cup Pyrex jug full! Too bad instant coffee is too disgusting to drink or I could have a few cups while we worked.

We poured on a little (don’t flood it) and then smeared it around with a paint brush to completely cover the paper without drowning it too much:

The coffee is what stains the paper that yellow-brown tone. If you want “age spots” then sprinkle on some instant coffee granules and let them dissolve a bit:

Once the granules have dissolved a little, blot up all the excess liquid on the paper and the baking sheet with some paper towels. Tip – blotting with a dabbing motion seemed to work better than wiping:

Here they are before going into the oven. The oven dries them off quickly and gives them a slightly parched, brittle, old texture:

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees (93 Celsius – “low heat”) and put the baking sheet in the oven. It took about 5 minutes or so for ours to dry out. Keep an eye on it. When the edges start to curl up a bit, it is probably done.

They will come out looking hundreds of years old! But, if that’s not enough for you, you can take it a step further and burn the edges too. Obviously, this is an activity for adults only.

Light a candle and place it in the kitchen sink. The dry paper burns very well, so you’ll want water right there. You can also just drop the paper into the sink if the flame spreads too quickly. I was a bit overly-enthusiastic on my first go and burned a few apparently crucial areas of one of my daughter’s maps (sorry!):

I eventually got the hang of it and was able to produce just a lightly ragged burned effect instead of giant, blackened blotches.

Tip – gently slide the edge of the paper back and forth through the flame. Keep it moving and try not to really let it actually catch on fire. After a few passes through the flame, take it out. The edge will be glowing. Put the edge under some running water to extinguish the glow. Afterwards you can let the paper dry on its own, or if you are impatient as we were, then simply pop it back into the oven for a few more minutes to dry off.

Our finished maps:

The final touch was rolling them up and tying them with string:


While we were making the maps, my daughter asked if I would make a “real” treasure map for them, and then hide some treasure somewhere for them to find using the map.

I thought that sounded fun, so I did.

The map is revealed (they hadn’t looked at it while I was making it):

After a false start in the wrong location (perhaps Mom is a poor map draftsman?), they finally got their bearings and were hot on the trail of the pirate treasure:

And the treasure is finally found!

We had a great time on the treasure hunt and surprisingly, it actually taught some map-reading skills!

The treasure hunt is a fun activity to try anytime. It only takes a minute or two to draw a map and hide the “treasure.” You don’t have to get fancy and “antique” your map unless you want to.


We had a lot of fun this week. This project was easy enough for them to do on their own (apart from the burning of course), and we all enjoyed it

What did you do for old? If you joined in this week’s Unplugged Project, please put a link to your project in Mr. Linky. Also leave a comment so your project link will be forever immortalized should Mr. Linky fail, as he does from time to time.

If you didn’t join us, please think about trying to next week. You can read all about how the Unplugged Project works here.


In honor of summer (here in the Northern Hemisphere anyway), the theme for next week’s Unplugged Project will be:


Please note that I did not say “garden-ing” (although that would be a fine project to share). It could involve pictures of gardens, something to do with plants, seeds, bugs, colors, dirt, butterflies … anything! Be creative, I look forward to being inspired by you all!

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