Art By Karishma

my adventures in art

Coffee-stained Tags November 30, 2007

Filed under: Art,Projects — jhukarishma @ 7:30 pm

One of the groups I’m a member of – the Artist’s Circle Yahoo group – is doing a workshop on tag booklets. We each make our own tags following the steps posted, and share pictures of our results. It’s amazing the variety of different results we’ve seen from even such a simple project as this one.

The first step was to coffee-stain 12 tags. I didn’t have any ready-made tags on hand, so I cut some myself. I decided to take this opportunity to experiment with different weights of paper, as well as different staining techniques.

I used regular medium-weight paper, some textured gift wrap, kraft paper, and some lightweight cardboard (the packaging my paper trimmer came in, as a matter of fact). I cut 4 tags out of each material.

We don’t drink coffee ourselves, but we do keep a jar of instant on hand for house guests, so that’s what I used. I put in 1 tablespoon of crystals into just over half a cup of hot water.

To get an overall stain on the tags, I tried several different techniques.

  • I washed the coffee on with a sponge brush
  • I dunked some tags into the coffee mug
  • I dribbled coffee over the tags with a spoon
  • I poured out some coffee into a plate and let the tags soak in it for an hour

Cofee-stained tags

To my surprise, not only did all these methods give very similar results – an even light brown – but there wasn’t any appreciable difference between the various types of paper.

PaperKraftGift WrapCardboard

Then I tried various methods to get more interesting patterns on the tags.

  • I dribbled drops of coffee over the tags
  • I soaked only a part of the tag in coffee, allowing an edge to form
  • I sprinkled dry coffee crystals over the wet tags
  • I sprinkled Kosher salt flakes over the wet tags
  • I laid objects over part of the tags, poured more coffee over and left in place until dry

StencilCrystalsSaltbulldog clip

Some general tips I learned from this exercise

  • Washing and soaking will give you flat even color, but that’s kinda boring.
  • Applying coffee only to parts of the tag cause edge to form which are much more interesting.
  • Duration of soaking doesn’t affect the depth of the color as much as the strength of the coffee.
  • More porous surfaces like cardboard and kraft paper soak in the coffee, so the results are more muted.
  • The final result when tags are dry are much darker and more defined than while in process – so wait till things are dry before adding to what you already have.

This was really fun, and I’m looking forward to the next steps.

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One Response to “Coffee-stained Tags”

  1. […] I mentioned in my previous post, our project at The Artist Circle Yahoo Group was to create a tag booklet. We started with coffee […]


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