If you have a group of students who are learning English in Ireland and you want to include some Irish culture activities you can teach your group how to make home-made parchment paper very easily with the help of a new publication called “Teaching Celtic Art Activities“. A demonstration CD is attached in this book showing the equipment needed, how to make the parchment paper and hundreds of illustrations and Celtic lettering to use in projects.

If you have a small group you can do a live demonstration yourself. You just need some plain white paper, some coffee or tea to colour the paper, and some things you would normally find in a kitchen. We have listed the things you need below. Coffee has a darker colour but you can also use tea bags. If you use tea bags, let them soak in warm water until the water is as dark as possible.

Equipment needed:

  • old newspapers

  • rubber gloves

  • spoons

  • some coffee (or tea bags)

  • warm water

  • bowls

  • sponges

  • white paper

  • Optional:A lighter, matches or a lit candle (the best) to slightly burn the edges for an old parchment look.

NB: if your group are young children or teenagers, this activity must be supervised at all times! Place the candle on the centre of a table and make each person come to the table. Do not let students walk about with the candle from table to table or classroom to classroom. A candle is best as it saves using lots of matches. Do not let students use any other form of naked flame. Be very strict with this – especially with teenagers, who may have their own cigarette lighters with them.

Method and Demonstration:

If your group is small you can actually demonstrate this by using the method below. (Try it out in your own time first!)

If you have a larger group it will be easier to divide the groups and demonstrate to one group at a time.

The other groups can be planning their projects or colouring the letters and designs until it is their turn to see the demonstration.

You can also show groups the method and demonstration using the PowerPoint Display CD attached in this book.

  1. Wear rubber gloves to protect your hands from coffee or tea stains.

  2. Spread the old newspapers onto a table or onto the floor.

  3. Place the white paper onto the newspapers.

  4. Put a few spoonfuls of coffee or a tea bag into a bowl.

  5. Add some warm water to dissolve the coffee/soak the tea bag.

  6. Mix the coffee/tea and water together until dissolved.

  7. Dip the sponge into the coffee/tea coloured water.

  8. Squeeze the sponge so that it is not dripping with the coloured water. (Do not use too much water as this might rip the paper.)

  9. Rub the sponge, lightly and gently, all over the white paper in different directions. Cover all the paper from corner to corner. Turn the paper over and cover this side also.

  10. Carefully lift the coloured paper off the newspaper and very gently scrunch the paper in your hand.

  11. Carefully unfold the paper and lay it down flat again on the newspaper. This helps to make the paper look very ancient!

  12. Leave the paper to dry overnight. If it is a very warm day, leave in the sun to dry for an hour or two.

  13. While the paper is drying the students can be planning their projects and colouring the letters and Celtic designs.

  14. The ‘parchment paper’ is now ready to use.

  15. You can also use a lit candle and carefully burn the edges of the pages slightly to give the pages a very old look.

  16. Be very careful with fire!

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