When it comes to crafting with paper, many people turn to ephemera because of the unique vintage look it often has. This antique look comes because the ephemera has been held onto over the years and transforms with the test of time. However, not all ephemera has been weathered over time to give it that antique look.

So what do you do when you want that perfect vintage ephemera? Luckily, with some simple techniques, you can carefully transform your crisp ephemera into a vintage piece of paper ready to be used in your next craft or put on display!

5 Techniques to Transform Your Ephemera

Depending on the look you’re going for, you can choose any of these techniques. Be sure to practice on an insignificant piece of paper before trying any of these on your ephemera. Have fun transforming!


This is a super simple way to make your paper look vintage. All you have to do is crumple up your ephemera, open it, and then crumple it up again. You can repeat the process until you’re satisfied with the way your paper looks. The more you crumple it, the more worn and tattered it will look. Once you get the paper to the desired condition, you can place a heavy book atop to flatten it out once more.

The good news about this technique is the fact that you don’t have to buy anything. With two hands and a piece of ephemera, you’re good to go!


For this simple technique, you’ll need a few supplies. Here’s a list of what you should have on hand:

  • An Oven
  • Baking Sheet
  • Item of Ephemera
  • Cup of Hot Coffee
  • Instant Coffee powder
  • White Paper Towels

First of all, you’ll want to preheat your oven to the lowest temperature possible. Next, crumple up your ephemera, then flatten it out on a baking sheet. Pour hot coffee all over your ephemera. Yep, you read that right! And no, I’m not trying to sabotage your vintage-seeking endeavors. Doing this will give your ephemera the perfect brownish vintage look. Spread the coffee around with a clean sponge, and make sure it doesn’t pool anywhere. You want a nice even layer.

Then, sprinkle instant coffee on your paper. It may look like a bit of a mess at first, but soon enough you’ll see the transformation. Let the paper sit for a couple minutes, and then dab up the excess coffee with a white paper towel. Bake it in the oven for about 5 minutes. Watch carefully so you can take it out as soon as the paper dries. If you leave it in too long, you may end up with a burnt item of ephemera. And there you go! You should have a nice vintage print.

Tea Bags

Here’s another easy way to turn your ephemera into a unique vintage item! Tea bags are great for giving the paper a nice yellow tint to add that old glow. For this technique, all you need to do is prepare a couple of tea bags per the direction on the box. Once the tea has been made, take the tea bag and rub it all over your piece of ephemera. If the tea bag dries out, feel free to dip it in the cup once again. Allow your paper to dry completely. Once dry, it may be a little warped, in which case you can place a heavy book on top to flatten it out. It’s as simple as that! Good luck!

Burn the Paper

To give your ephemera item that burnt-edge look, follow these directions. Carefully light a candle. If you don’t have one with an open flame, you can also use a lighter. Dampen the parts of your paper that you will be burning. This will ensure that the paper doesn’t burn too quickly. Hold your paper about one inch above the flame. Slowly but surely your paper will burn away at the edges. Be sure to keep water nearby in case it does turn into a flame! The safest spot to perform this technique would be over the sink.

The extent of the burnt look is totally up to you! You can burn more or less depending on what you want the finished product to look like. Be safe!

Lemon Juice

All you do for this technique is squeeze some lemons, put the juice on the paper, and heat it up! Depending on the temperature, you should get a nice browning effect. To heat the paper, you can use a hairdryer. Again, the higher the temperature and the longer the heating time, the browner the paper will turn. In the end, you should have a nice vintage ephemera document!

Good luck with your ephemera transformations! Feel free to comment below if there is another technique you like to use to make your ephemera look more vintage. If you’re looking to do the opposite and restore your ephemera to a clean, crisp state, be sure to read Simple Techniques to Restore Ephemera.