Giving New Clothes Pins a Vintage Makeover

As I am getting things ready for the new shop… I came across a bit of a dilemma. Okay, maybe not a serious dilemma, but I want to decorate the shop with old photos, pinned around with old clothes pins. Any other time, I would see old clothes pins everywhere… the thrift store, my junk spots, heck, my mom’s house! But for some reason, I cannot find old clothes pins to save my vintage-lovin’ life!! So what’s a girl to do? Make some!

I started with a pack of 50 clothes pins that I picked up at Walmart for a couple bucks and some tea bags that I already had on hand.

I filled my big ‘ol pot with water and fired her up… dropping, oh I don’t know, maybe 15 or so tea bags in. Before the water started boiling, I dropped all of the clothes pins right in the water. (Keeping one out for the ‘ta-da’ photo at the end!)

Be sure that you bring the water to a rolling boil. I don’t really know, but I feel like the tea seeps into the wood better, the hotter it is. And keep that lid in place… just tilt it slightly  if you forsee a foamy sea rolling over the edge of your pot!

I checked on the clothes pins every few minutes. Once I thought they were taking in the tea nicely, I turned the burner off and let them sit for a couple hours, with the lid on. (Okay… I forgot about them and they sat until the next morning. Oops. But I think a couple hours should be sufficient.)

The next morning, I drained the tea and poured it down the sink. I hated throwing it out, but seriously, who knows where those clothes pins have been. I just hate throwing things away. Ugh. I dumped the clothes pins out on a plush towel that would soak up any excess tea.

       I spread the clothes pins out so they would dry evenly. If you leave them all in a pile, you will have darker spots where the clothes pins are touching. For this project, I didn’t want that. I wanted even color. But in the future, I may play with trying to get a more abstract finish. And there’s the loner that survived the boiling tea!! She looks rather pasty, eh?

The clothes pins are just perfect! It took several hours for them to dry out all the way. But the color was spot on! There are darker spots in some places where the metal is or where the wood is softer. But it gives them so much character and age.

I’m thinking I could do this on other wood projects as well!! Have you done any neat dying projects lately??

-Vintage News Junkie

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  1. Getting ready to tea-stain my wooden ruler pieces. Thanks for this awesome tute! Your clothespins turned out fabulously, Candace. (Pssst! So wonderful to meet you at Haven. Rachel from Lines Across and I kept saying what a gem of a gal you are.) And I’ll never forget our lunch where we each got to show off our knowledge of the Presidents and states! (Dork alert.) Looking forward to reading all of your Haven recap posts! (Which reminds me that I need to write one myself.)

    • Awww… Lauren!!! Lovin’ that you found me here! I can’t tell you how much fun it was hangin’ out with you at Haven!! I’m workin’ on my ‘Haven: Day Two’ post now… US Presidents and all 50 states definitely make the cut! Ha ha! I didn’t get a pic with Rachel in it… I’m bummed! But we shall meet again at the ‘Mickey Mouse place’!! Can’t wait to see your ruler chalkboards!!! (And yes, we all drool when we sleep!) Keep in touch, friend!! 🙂


  1. […] using tea (yes, tea as in a “spot of tea”) to stain wood…she had great success tea-staining clothespins, so I gave it a […]

  2. […] using tea (yes, tea as in a “spot of tea”) to stain wood…she had great success tea-staining clothespins, so I gave it a […]

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