The Perfect Grubby, Grungy Hang Tags: A Tutorial

Ok, so I think I finally have it down! The batch of hang tags I recently made came out so deliciously grubby!

Here we go! So start by getting basic hang tags at your local craft store. I don’t make any fancy mixtures – I use straight (very strong) coffee. The coffee was really hot so I put it outside in the snow to cool for a bit, so it’s a little easier to work with.

Tip: Seriously, wear rubber gloves! My hands were in the coffee for a very short time and it still stained my nails brown. I usually get down and dirty with my crafts, but for this project, I will definitely wear gloves next time!

Drop in a few tags and mix them around until the are completely submerged in the coffee. Leave them in for only a minute or two.  Leaving them in for a long time makes the little red enforcers fall off. One thing I have learned is that this process is not about how long you soak them, but about how long you bake them in the oven!

Once the tags are completely saturated, lay them out on a cookie sheet so they are not touching. Tip: Don’t shake off the excess coffee. I am convinced that leaving them really wet and saturated (see pic below) is the key to making them grubby. That excess coffee soaks right into the tags as they bake!

Cook at 200 degrees for about 15 minutes. The excess coffee should be absorbed by now and the tags mostly dry.

You’ll notice that one side is pretty grubby, while the other side isn’t. SO, the next step is to RE-DIP all of the tags in the coffee mixture and flip them over to bake on the other side. Bake another 15 minutes. Yes, this is time-consuming, but it works really well and creates a really great over-all grubbified effect! 🙂 Enjoy the winter scenery while you wait…

Then…VOILA! Perfectly grubby, grungy hanging tags!

Use them for all your prim country projects, scrap booking, gift wrapping, or whatever else you can think of! The possibilities are endless! I think I might start by stamping a few with a great new skeleton key stamp I recently found!

That’s all for now. I am leaving going to Arizona for a week so I won’t be posting for a while. I hope to have some fun pictures to share when I get back. Happy crafting to all! 🙂

16 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Cindy
    Feb 10, 2011 @ 15:11:25

    Your tags turned out great!! Thanks for sharing how you did it. I wonder if tea would work…I can’t stand the smell of coffee. My girls love it though…maybe I can get one of them to stain my tags. LOL…


    • Eyeballs By Day, Crafts By Night
      Feb 10, 2011 @ 15:34:35

      Thanks Cindy! I love the way they came out. I have used tea before and it works okay…I feel coffee works a little better for a more grubby effect. It’s just more intense and seems to stain them better. I am sure with some experimenting and a strong tea mixture, you could get some good results. Although out-sourcing the work to your daughters would be an easier option…LOL!


  2. Gloria Hutson
    Sep 05, 2011 @ 16:19:34

    Hi, try a mixture of 2/3 warm water and 1/3 hydrogen peroxide (3%) and soak your fingers and nails to get rid of the stain.


  3. bluebell
    Nov 21, 2012 @ 16:15:01

    where do you buy your tags?


  4. Shari Harrison
    Oct 10, 2015 @ 03:22:01

    Love ur great tips for all the $ store ideas! I use the coffee stain method, too, U didn’t mention it but if U ad cinnamon to the coffee (or tea) it smells Terrific! The tea is great to stain w/if U don’t want a heavy grungy coffee color. And if U want a heavier grungier color than coffee offers use WALNUT INK — can be purchased all over the net, too! And cinnamon can be added w/vanilla to all of these for a great scent. I make these prim hangtags & sell in my booth—people love the scent—it smells so good U want to eat them!


    • Eyeballs By Day, Crafts By Night
      Oct 15, 2015 @ 12:49:10

      Thanks for the awesome tips Shari! I will have to try out that walnut ink for sure. I love Fall time at the co-op’s and craft stores; there’s so much great stuff! Hope you’re having a nice Fall and your booth is going good!!! Maggie 🙂


    • Hal
      Nov 19, 2019 @ 11:14:19

      I am going to try these at a craft fair Dec 1 what would you charge for the larger sized tags ?


      • Eyeballs By Day, Crafts By Night
        Nov 23, 2019 @ 08:23:54

        Hi Hal! It was a long time ago so I honestly don’t remember…I think if I were to take them to a craft show now I would sell them in packages of 6 for $2.00 or 12 for $4.50, something like that. I used them more as packaging for pins, magnets, etc. Hope that helps and good luck at your craft fair! maggie

  5. Jillan Linsey
    Sep 30, 2017 @ 18:33:31

    I did this and it works wonderful. Thanks for tbe information on doing tbe tags.


  6. Jillan Linsey
    Sep 30, 2017 @ 18:35:09

    I did this and it works wonderful. Thanks for the information on doing the tags. U made it alot easier then iother sites i read on how to grunge the tags.


    • Eyeballs By Day, Crafts By Night
      Oct 02, 2017 @ 07:54:59

      Thank you, I am glad you found it an easy process. I try to do everything the easy way first…haha. They are great to make in large batches and then you’re all set for a while to use them in all different kinds of projects. Thanks again for your comment! 🙂


  7. Sue GRoth
    Jan 02, 2018 @ 16:56:36

    Hi thanks for the tutorial. I shared this on my FB page is that ok?
    I got alot of good comments on it.:)


  8. Jane Tucket
    Feb 15, 2018 @ 17:31:32

    Love this idea. How do you get them flat. Seems like after they are wet and dried that they would have to be pressed or weighted down. Thanks Jane


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