Step 1: Get your materials ready. In this picture you see a paintbrush, some loose pages, and a screw-post bound copy of the Nine Gates that I will be using for a further tutorial. You also see a clear hard laminated plastic sheet.
BTW: I HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend aging your pages before binding them! It is a lot easier that way. But for this tutorial I bound pages first so I could demonstrate how to deal with that.
Step 2. The next thing you want to do is make some tea. Now for this tutorial I used some regular Lipton tea, (two small teabags) to the cup, along with some liberal squirts of lemon juice…for that acidic touch (but that’s not required). Next you, dip the brush into the tea and “paint” the pages. Don’t worry if it doesn’t look all that dark at first. They will darken up over time. Also, even though I used regular tea. Black tea is actually more appropriate for the Nine Gates. Obviously, play with the concentration of tea to water ratio depending on how aged you want things to get.
If you’re going to screw post bind your pages instead of sewing them, then I recommend hole-punching them first! (thought I don’t recommend using screw post bindings… this is one easy way to bind the pages and the way I show it in the example here. I now prefer the method I show in the binding tutorial.)
While this method is more time consuming than others, this is to guarantee that your pages do not get wrinkled. Keep in mind that the paper will swell from the moisture and also that when bound we still want this to look like a well-cared for book, instead of the ancient tome look.
Also, I know that in the early pictures the pages look aged already, but that is the lighting. Pages were regular white paper standard laser printer stock.
Step 3: Apply heat to heat up drying process if necessary. A heatgun / blowdryer will give you more control. This picture show the page, getting ready to go into the oven, preheated to 200 degrees F.
Second picture, is a close-up of the finished product.
Step 4: This is only if you’ve bound your pages before you aged them. This takes a long time and is a pain in the butt. Same tea “painting” process as above, only you put the plastic sheet under the page you’re painting so it doesn’t seep through to the other pages. Also, you have to let each page become mostly dry (heat gun / blowdryer is very useful here) before moving on to the next, or the pages will pulp together and you’ll have a mess on your hands.
Also, beware of how some of the pages dry. Also, after painting all the pages, you will have to enter them back into some kind of a book press to flatten the book back out.
Extra fun fact: If you’re trying to make an ancient looking tome instead of something well preserved like the “Nine Gates” instead of painting the tea on, just fill a small Tupperware container large enough to hold the pages with your tea and lemon juice mixture and simply dip the page in. Then stack them in a pan 10 or 20 at a time before putting them in the oven. That way they will not match up very well when they come out and will be very wrinkled. If you want the pages to turn out very dark, you can play around with inserting instant coffee ground or even sugar-free cola to the mix (ensure it is sugar free as regular cola will carbonize when you put it in the oven and you’ll have a jolly mess on your hands.)