Coffee Stain Doodling

I love, love, love this activity! I’ve done this myself, and with kids in both private art classes and when I teach art in public schools. It works with any age, and as such the complexity of the doodles tend to increase the older the artist is.

What’s great about it is how open it is. The stains are just stains, but with some page turns and with each artist’s own interpretation, they can become something incredible.

It’s a low-stakes piece art, because the paper is already crinkly and it looks old. If it ends up looking like nothing perceivable, it doesn’t matter. This is an easy piece of art to toss, and it costs so little to create that you could make hundreds of these and not bat an eye.

Here’s how:

  1. Take some white paper and drop some old coffee on it. You can also use tea, but it won’t stain as dark, or as well. The trick is not to cover the entire paper (but it happens and that’s fine – it can be a map! Or you can drop more coffee on it later.) You can drop the coffee into different areas, and dip a cup into it. Then, stamp the cup around the page, so it looks like someone was working while drinking coffee and they stained their paper! There’s no wrong way to do this, just stain the paper and let it dry.

2. Let it dry overnight. You want completely dry paper to draw on.

3. Look for shapes you recognize, and fill in the details! If you’re stuck, you can turn the page around. Sometimes flipping it helps, too. Try cutting it into smaller pieces — changing the frame helps to change what you see.

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