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Make Your Own Scrapbook Paper

Updated on January 17, 2014

It's easy to spend a great deal of money on scrapbook and craft supplies. Scrapbook paper is sold by the sheet or in packs. Either way, the costs quickly add up if you use a lot of paper in your art or crafts. Next time you are tempted to spend money on scrapbook supplies, you may want to consider if there are any free or low-cost alternatives. I have found that sometimes when I look for an alternative to buying scrapbooking supplies, I find something that ends up looking just as good if not better than the mass-produced, over-priced scrapbook supplies sold at craft stores. When you make your own scrapbook paper, you can feel confident that you are making good use of what you have available and making something that is uniquely your creation rather than spending money on supplies.

Paper Aged with Coffee

Aged paper can be useful for many scrapbooking and craft projects. Making your own aged paper isn't difficult. There are several methods for aging paper such as using a flame, tea, or coffee. I prefer to use coffee. An example of paper aged with coffee is on the left of the above photograph.

To make two sheets of coffee-aged paper, you'll need the following supplies:

2 sheets of printer paper, either white or cream color

2 cookie sheets with raised sides or pans large enough to place the paper flat on the bottom

1 cup of strong coffee


1. Preheat the oven to 200°. Place each sheet of paper in a separate pan or cookie sheet. Pour half the coffee over each.

2. Slowly, tilt the sides of the pan so that coffee has been on all parts of the paper. The paper does not need to remain covered with coffee.

3. Allow the paper to sit in the coffee for 15 minutes. Then, dump the excess coffee out of the pans. You may need to put a finger on the paper to prevent it from sliding while dumping out the coffee.

4. Put the pans in the oven for about 5 minutes. The edges of the paper will begin to raise from the pan or curl slightly when done.

Tips for Using Mod Podge

Mod Podge is excellent for providing a matte or gloss finish to the paper. The Mod Podge helps protect the paper from stains and tears. I learned the hard way that using Mod Podge can be a catastrophe if not done properly. Here are some tips for using Mod Podge:

  • Only paint one side of the paper with Mod Podge at a time. Wait at least 20 minutes before getting any Mod Podge on the other side. Putting Mod Podge on both sides of a paper at the same time causes air bubbles to form under the paper.
  • Before using Mod Podge on printed paper or paper colored with non-permanent markers, spray the paper with Mod Podge acrylic sealer to prevent smearing.

Pages from Old Books

Old books provide interesting scrapbook paper. Sometimes, I use the pages directly from the book or paint the edges. In the photograph above, I show pieces of pages from a book that have black paint added to the edges. In order to achieve this look, first tear the page into the size and shape that you want.

Then, place the paper on a Styrofoam plate or scrap paper. I prefer to paint on Styrofoam plates for easy clean up and paint mixing. I put a small amount of black paint on the plate and dab a flat-edged brush in it. Then, I tap the bristles onto the plate to remove excess paint. Start at the edge of the paper and drag the brush inward slightly.

Photos and Prints

For the bottle on the left, I printed a picture of the famous painting "Girl with a Pearl Earring" by Johannes Vermeer. Hundreds of pictures are available on the internet that are public domain images. If you are going to sell the craft when it's done, be sure that any images that you use are public domain and give people the right to use them, unaltered, for commercial projects. Even though an image is public domain, there may still be stipulations in how the photo can be used.

The bottle on the left features a printed paper with penguins on it. I made this design using Adobe Illustrator software. This is a safe and easy way to get printed paper that is exactly as you want it. However, Adobe Illustrator software is rather expensive. I had this software, because I needed it for art school. It's not something I would recommend buying unless you are going to get a lot of use from it.

Notice on both bottles, I used paper from old books as well.

Painted Picture

Instead of buying images or photographs to use, why not paint a simple picture? I prefer to use my creativity rather than my debit card. Recently, I was discouraged, because I wished I had a photograph to use on an altered bottle. I started to look for photographs on Ebay before I realized that I could just paint a picture and end up with something unique.

I painted a simple seascape. It's not difficult to paint a plain seascape. Here are some steps to follow to paint a seascape.

1. Cut a piece of canvas paper the size and shape that you want the seascape to be.

2. On a Styrofoam plate, put green, blue, yellow ochre or raw sienna, yellow, and white paint. I used thalo blue and phthalo green. Lay your piece of canvas paper on the plate or on scrap paper or newspaper if you prefer.

3. Paint the sky with blue and white. Dab short strokes of paint across the top third of the paper. Don't worry about blending or mixing the colors. Allow the variations to exist.

4. Paint the ocean with green and white. Add a bit of yellow if you like. Again, don't blend too much. Light and dark strokes should be visible.

5. The bottom part of the canvas paper should be painted raw sienna or yellow ochre. While still wet, add a bit of yellow.

6. Dip the edge of your brush in white paint and dab it on the plate to remove excess paint. Then, gently dab the bottom edge of the green on the canvas paper to indicate the white foam on the beach.

Message in a Bottle

For one of my bottles with a painted seascape on the front, I rolled up a piece of coffee-aged paper and tied it with twine and a small key before putting it in the bottle. On the paper, I wrote John 3:16. This type of message in a bottle could be used for many occasions. My roommate thinks it would make a unique marriage proposal. I think it's just a nice touch to my ocean bottles.


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    • Sheila Wilson profile image

      Sheila Wilson 4 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Thank you all for your feedback. I appreciate it!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 4 years ago from USA

      Creative ideas, Sheila! I enjoyed this hub. I like your coffee stained paper idea in particular. i could see using these techniques for gift tags and notecards. Voted up and more.

    • VirginiaLynne profile image

      Virginia Kearney 4 years ago from United States

      Good ideas for making your own paper decorations. I think people do need to be careful to find out if the paper they are using is acid free before they use it with photos they might want to not fade. There are pens you can buy that test for that. I've made my own paper for projects too and it is always a lot of fun. I like your bottle projects. That would make a fun and easy craft for kids too. voted up.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

      Making good use of what is available is a super way to have access to and create unique scrapbook/craft papers. These are great examples. Hope you'll add even more examples to this hub over time so we can see what you come up with! Pinning to my Origami/Paper/... board--thanks!

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Haze 4 years ago from Sunny Florida

      I enjoyed reading your hub. I am bookmarking it. I found it thoroughly interesting. Love the set up.