Pirate Files-Invitations and Other Old Paper

I think I missed “talk like a pirate day,” but I still promised to share some of the behind the scenes, DIY tips from my pirate party. It might be fun to go pirate for your Halloween party this year. (See this cool party for inspiration).

We delivered messages in bottles for our pirate party invitations. My husband was in charge of purchasing (and mostly drinking) the IBC that we used. He also found the cork at the hardware store. Each bottle had a couple of Tbsp. of sand that my SIL brought back for us from the beach in Bermuda. (Way more pirate-like than Arizona dirt!)
For the “map” inside the bottle, I used an image from Google Maps of our neighborhood, to trace over in a drawing program, to create the basic lines. I used some clip art I have collected and made to add some graphics.
I really wanted to have paper that looked like it could have been traveling at sea for sometime, so I consulted with my blogging friend, Denise @ Little Ant Designs, who made these super cool tickets and accessories for a Harry Potter party. I asked her to tell me all about tea dying paper. This is what she wrote:

As for tea dying – I use whatever I have in my house. I did message in a bottle invites for my pirate party (see here) For the invites I used some coffee packets I had from a hotel that I saved for tea dying since I don’t drink coffee. For the labels on the bottle I just used an ink pad. For Harry Potter I used Postum, I think, but I have used everything from hot chocolate to something called Echo that my husband had in our house because he used to drink it when he lived in Chile. You could probably get away with some watered down food coloring. as well.

I type all my info and print my invites at home on my printer – I have learned that black ink is the only color that doesn’t bleed in the tea dying process so watch out if you have nay colors on your invite. I put my water/tea, coffee, hot chocolate, etc mixture into a 9×13 pan and then run my paper through the liquid. Depending on the look you want (you might experiment) I sometimes I just put the smooth paper in or sometime I crinkle the paper into a ball first then flatten it out a bit and run the somewhat crinkled paper through the liquid.
To dry I lay the papers out on wax paper or if I’m in a bigger hurry I blow dry them. The other thing I have tried is drying them in an oven – this process just takes longer. Stick a few invites on a cookie sheet and dry them in an oven set to 250 or 300. As they dry the darken a bit more especially around the edges of the paper – it’s a cool look. I have never had a problem doing this but I would stay in the kitchen a keep a good eye on the papers to make sure nothing catches on fire.
If your papers get too wrinkly from the oven you can smooth them out a bit with a warm iron – it works really well.

I wasn’t sure I believed the part about the black and the colored ink, so I had to try for myself, and sure enough, everything printed in color ink disappeared! So I dyed and oven-dried my papers first before running them through the printer. (And none of them caught on fire). I really like the look the oven gave to the papers. It would be better to do them one at a time, though (mine over-lapped a little). I used the warm iron before printing, but my printer was still pretty temperamental. Maybe I just did a little too much crinkling, or maybe my printer is just old and needs to be replaced, but I did have to clear several jams during the printing process. My recommendation. Print in black ink, then dye. If you need to add some color, like a big red X, use a rubber stamp and do it later.

I just made all of the other signs around the house and yard out of torn pieces of cardboard. I had thought to print and mount paper on them, but this was much faster, and still looked old. I bet you won’t guess what I used to tarnish the edges of the signs…
…so I will tell you. Brown shoe polish. The shoe polish made a big showing at the party as you will see in my next posts. It was really fast and easy to use, and just a little stinky!

Big thanks to Denise for sharing her expertise with me, and allowing me to share it with all of you! She had some other great pirate party ideas, I will be sharing soon! So come back!

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  1. The colored ink disappeared? That is crazy!

    And that is a fun technique. We always did it with a lighter, but this is so much easier and a bit safer!!

  2. So much fun!

  3. Room to Inspire says

    Great ideas – my kiddos are really into pirates right now. As of right now, we will be a family of pirates for Halloween..arr. I was just presented with the Honest Scrap award and I want to pass it along to you! I am sure you have already been presented with this award, but your blog is so inspiring! I linked your blog to my post today.


  4. that is a fun technique. We always did it with a lighter, but this is so much easier and a bit safer!!
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