top of page

How to Grunge Material for Primitive Projects and Petitions — The Magickal Way!

How to Distress or Grunge Material for Primitive Projects & Petitions — The Magickal Way

by Silver RavenWolf copyright 2012

Distressed material works extremely well for a variety of magickal projects from sachet squares, to spirit dolls, altar ornaments and coverings, basket ornies, conjuring bags and even primitive jewelry!  Squares of grunged material make great, softly scented petition squares that can be carried with you, used in art forms, or burned in the ritual cauldron.

This article covers two types of grunge techniques in an effort to show you how to infuse an already fun craft with loads of enchantment.  The first technique only takes a few minutes to do, and the remainder of the time the item spends in the oven so you can do something else while your material is perfectly grunging itself!  The second technique does take longer, but the result is definitely worth it, particularly if you like the leather-look without the leather.  This form of grunge makes great cloth squares for petitions.

Why Grunge Material?

In the crafty world grunging material falls under the category of Primitive or Country Primitives.  The techniques produce material that looks old or antique, and emits a lingering, pleasant aroma due to the coffee and spices used in the application.  These grunging formulas set your magickal project in motion simply by their own correspondences.  Although you can grunge almost any type of cotton material, most crafters start with economical muslin, which in my area of the country is $1.99 a yard to $3.99 a yard.  One yard of fabric can yield many conjuring bags, several spirit dolls, an altar clot, quite a few petition squares and more, giving you the opportunity to complete many projects for pennies on your hard earned dollar!

Standard grunge spices usually include:

Coffee — brewed dark and allowed to cool, or instant coffee —  Coffee is often associated with the planet Mars because it is a stimulant although I’ve also seen a rulership book that puts the brew under Neptune .  Coffee to me isn’t wishy-washy, so I stick with the Mars correspondence.  Here, coffee would stand for movement, starting things, heating situations up, etc.  A bit of honey or brown sugar can be added to the coffee during the brewing process for an extra kick in attraction magick.


Tea — brewed dark and allowed to cool.  Tea is ruled by the Sun and is thought to promote good fortune, great riches, courage, longevity and strength.


Cinnamon — powdered works best for grunging.  Cinnamon is ruled by the Sun, and so speaks of success, healing, even protection and of course, love.

Nutmeg — powdered.   Nutmeg falls under the expertise of Jupiter and is considered the Good Luck ingredient also associated with positive spirituality.

Vanilla — liquid extract.  Ruled by Venus and has a variety of correspondences, including mental agility, love, lust, friendship, fast luck and fast cash.

Allspice — powdered.  Another grunge ingredient that falls under the power of Mars.  Allspice is associated with good fortune and luck as well as money magnet properties.

Orange Peel — Fresh.  Steep the orange peel in the coffee liquid overnight and then remove.  Ruled by the Sun, orange correspondences include psychism, good luck, money drawing, passion, love, and cleansing.

Cloves — powdered.  Ruled by Jupiter and often used for protection, multiplying money, and love.  Cloves are also favored for banishing and cleansing.

Can you steep other herbs in your brewed coffee or tea?  Absolutely!  I normally choose food safe herbals because of possible skin absorption when handling the finished product.  For example, I wouldn’t steep the cloth in wormwood as this can be toxic.  However, if you were having trouble sleeping at night and you asked me to make you a conjuring bag, I would definitely steep lavender in the hot coffee mixture.  Use your nose and your needs to make your choices.

General Supplies for Coffee or Tea Staining of Material — Technique #1

Two Clear bowls large enough to hold liquid — one to steep herbs, and (optional) one to strain your finished brew. 2 cups Blessed Water brewed into strong coffee or tea. Your chosen material, cut to size of project (conjuring bag, spirit doll, altar cloth, etc.) Strainer (optional) Spices of Choice — I use one tablespoon of Vanilla Extract and one teaspoon of the other powdered ingredients already mentioned; however, you can choose the amount and type of herbs you desire. Wooden Spoon (to stir the brew) Sand Paper (optional) Oven, hot sun, embossing dryer or blow dryer (be careful with the last two, you can burn your material or yourself!) Cookie Sheet covered in tinfoil (so clean-up isn’t messy).

General Magickal Set-Up Instructions

Know your purpose before you start as the need orchestrates the timing, charms and chants you may use, as well as deity choice.  When you have the need set in your mind, cleanse and consecrate all equipment and supplies.  Morning energy is great for general projects of this nature, although if I were going to make you a conjuring bag for protection, I might choose midnight and if I could, wait for a Scorpio Moon.  If I wanted to make a conjuring bag for money or business profit, then I would choose noon under a Leo or Taurus Moon. Finally, if I wanted to make a healing bag, I might wait for a Cancer Moon, particularly if I wanted to make such a bag for a close friend or family member.

You can use simple magicks to cleanse and consecrate or you can go all out with a big ritual -- the choice is yours!

Instructions for Staining

Step One:  Brew Coffee or use instant coffee and hot water.

Step Two:  Add spices and herbals.  Allow mixture to cool.

Step Three:  Strain spices and herbs out of brew.  As a note, some folks just leave all the coffee grounds and spices in the bowl, grinding the cloth into the mixture and brushing the cloth off after baking.

Dip cloth repeatedly to make sure all areas are covered. Chant while you work!

Step Four:  Dip cloth into brew.  You can remove immediately for a light stain or allow cloth to remain in the mixture for a deeper stain.

Step Five:  Remove from brew and squeeze out excess liquid.

Step Six.  Place flat on a cookie sheet and put into in 180 degree oven for twenty-five (25) minutes.  Check periodically to ensure cloth doesn’t burn.  You can also turn cloth over ten minutes into the baking time.

Step Seven.  Remove from oven, allow to cool.  Brush off any herbals with a stiff brush or a bit of fine sandpaper.That’s all there is to it!

The pictures below show a conjuring bag I made for a friend.  Notice the runes inside the bag drawn with an indelible pen.  I could have turned the material face down to hide the runes when sewing in the lining, but I wanted this person to see exactly what runes I used so that they could choose for themselves how they wanted to use the bag.  This project is special in that I placed dried herbs and the conjuring paper in between the lining and the outer material.  That way the bag is already empowered and ready to go.  Additional herbs don’t need to be placed in the bag.

Grunge Technique #2

This technique, as I stated earlier, is a little more involved and creates a stiffer finished piece.  This type of grunging is often done after the project is completed as the stiffer fabric is more difficult to sew, and near impossible to stitch if you are doing something small, like a three-inch star, a doll, or small conjuring packet.  You can, however, sew simple shapes such as squares and circles, after the grunging process.  The Grunge Technique #2 is the type used for all those nifty-neatie prim stuffed items (dolls, crows, cows, chickens, pillows) you see in the country specialty stores.


You will need the same supplies as in the first technique, along with the following:

Acrylic paint of your choice.  In the example for this article I used Burnt Sienna, however you can use any color with the knowledge that the process dulls the color.

You will also need fine sandpaper, a paper towel or two, and a paint brush.

The Instructions

Step One:  With your chosen acrylic color, paint the project.  In this example, I used a circle cut out of muslin for a conjuring bag.  Allow to dry.

Step Two:  Lightly sand the surface of your project.  There is no right way to do this.  You can sand as hard or as light as you desire.  The idea is to have a mottled appearance, so wrinkles in the fabric are just fine.

Step Three:  Dip the project in the coffee spice brew from Grunge Technique #1.

Step Four:  In the 180 degree oven, bake the project for 25 minutes.  Do not allow your project to burn.

Step Five:  After cooling, sand again.  When finished, use a paper towel to remove any powdered paint.

As I mentioned earlier, this technique creates a stiffer material.  To loosen up the fabric, roll in your hands, bunch it, squeeze it, and roll again.  This is a great time to add a specific chant or charm to infuse the fabric with focused energy.

From this point, you can turn your fabric into a compendium of enchanted items.  When your project is finished, complete the magick with a spell or ritual that matches your intent.

What if you want to grunge a three dimensional object, like a spirit doll?  I completed the sewing of the Stop Gossip Chicken shown below, inserted the magickal ingredients (frankincense tears, lobelia, cloves, etc.), stuffed with fiber, and then painted everything but the eyes and the polka-dots.  I sanded the bird being careful around the wings to be sure not to sand off the thread that held them on!  Then I used Grunge Technique #2 by painting him with a paint brush and the spice brew, baking him, and sanding him a final time.  Last came the polka-dots and the eyes.  Ta-da!  Stop Gossip Chicken!

The picture below shows Braucherei petitions created with the grunge material.  I added the charms right on the reverse side of the fabric in black indelible ink.  I can leave these single as they are, or stitch three of the sides,  turn the material, add herbs and charms inside, then stitch up.

You can use the squares as single petitions, or turn them into enchanted packets filled with herbs, resins and charms. You can also use them in scrapbooking.

Remember, you can use any color of acrylic paint, not just the burnt sienna shown in these examples.

The back of grunged material using Technique #2 is easy to write or draw on.

Two techniques — a compendium of great ideas!  Have more info?  Experience?  Be sure to post here!  Or, talk about it on my author page.  I’d love to hear!

Peace with the Gods Peace with Nature Peace Within.


Related articles

4 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page