The saga continues! You can see the first three parts of project here: Part One, Part Deux, Part Three.
My walnut ink crystals finally arrived, so it's time to tackle aging my paper. The crystals themselves are a fine, black granular powder that reminds me of the instant tea powder I've used to acid age documents in the past. The difference being, at least if the tutorial pages I linked to earlier are accurate, that the ink produced when you mix the crystals with water is actually a brown dye instead of the tannic acid solution produced by tea.
After mixing a heaping tablespoon of the crystals with two cups of warm water I waited the recommended half hour and then started the aging process. Most of the tutorials I've seen for aging paper use a shallow baking pan to hold the aging solution, but I prefer to do the entire process on a glass cutting board with a pebbled texture. I saturate a sponge with the walnut ink and then swab down the cutting board with it to create a layer of liquid on the glass. Then I carefully lay my paper, in this case a 12 x 18 sheet of heavyweight drawing paper, on the sheet.
As the fibers in the paper begin to absorb the ink already on the glass I use my sponge to dampen the top of the paper. Once the sheet is fully saturated I carefully lift it off the glass and then re-apply it so that it "sticks" to the glass, using the sponge to press out any air bubbles trapped under the paper. When I'm done with this step I have a smooth sheet of wet paper that is effectively molded to the glass sheet.
See that excess liquid in the lower left hand corner? After taking this picture I went around the paper and sponged all that extra ink up. Then I walked away for a half hour and let osmosis and surface tension distribute the ink across the paper while it began to dry.
When I came back the paper was still damp, but well on the way to drying out. At this stage I did the final grunging of the sheet, splattering it with some fine droplets of bleach and a sprinkling of ink crystals. I didn't snap any pictures of this step, being leery of handling a camera with water, bleach, and fine ink crystals on my gloves, but the results looked terrible. All blotchy and nasty looking. Trust me, this is normal and nothing to worry about- as the paper dries those nasty variations will naturally tone down. After finishing the grunging treatment I went to bed, leaving the paper to dry overnight.
The next morning, this was the result:
I liked it. I liked it a lot. The paper had a wonderful mottled appearance with specks of faux-foxing from the ink crystals, while the edges of the sheet had an absolutely perfect oxidation effect from the ink being wicked there while the sheet dried. I'm so happy with that edge treatment that I'm not going to go through with the deckled finish I had planned on earlier.
Before I run the sheet through the printer I do have to do a little prep work. First, I use a stiff brush to remove any paper or ink residue from the surface of the paper. Then I use the steam from a tea kettle to lightly dampen the paper and press it under some books to make sure it's flat and won't jam on the way through. After all that I finally print out my scroll for summoning Deep Ones: