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Everyone has their own favourite short-cut in parchment work  - little things that just make life a bit easier and more enjoyable.  On this page Iíll pass on some hints , some of which Iíve discovered for myself and others which have been passed on by fellow parchment crafters.   These may not be the Ďproperí ways to do things, but its always worth trying them out, to see if they work for you. 



You may already have noticed that I'm a real enthusiast about blendable pencils. By working with any soft pencil on the REVERSE of the parchment, you will achieve some subtle colouring without the pencil lines being too obvious. The big plus point about this sort of colouring is that if you make a mistake, you can rub it out ...... which brings me to one of my favourite toys! The Jakar Battery Operated Eraser Pen is very small and light to hold, but can pick out the smallest mistakes in your colouring. To a certain extent it will also erase ink. The rubber tips are replaceable when they wear down. Please click here for detailed instructions on how I like to colour with blendable pencils.


This is done with oil-pastel, usually on the back of the parchment.  Take a piece of kitchen paper and fold it so you have a point.  Dip it into your spreading medium and rub a little onto the parchment where you want the colour. Now rub the same piece of paper onto your oil pastel, taking off some colour.  Then use this to work it onto the parchment.  Because the actual pastel never touches the parchment, youíll avoid those accidental lines of colour that are impossible to remove.


When using a star or sun tool, place a piece of cardboard underneath the parchment and use that, instead of the embossing mat. This avoids the parchment splitting and you can use good pressure and achieve a sharply embossed shape. 


Everyone has their own way of using different tools, but having been asked recently how I use the hockey stick, I have created these two pages which you might find helpful. 


If youíve ever made a parchment card with a lovely lace border on all four sides, the problem comes when you need to attach it to the insert. My favourite way is to use invisible thread to sew your parchment design to a piece of backing card. This backing card is then stuck to the folded cardÖ. which means all your loose ends of thread are completely fixed and hidden from sight. Practise first on a scrap piece of parchment until you get the idea.  Follow this link to find out how...


I've found I mainly use just two simple techniques for painting with inks. Click here for a brief description of these techniques. Click here for a practise sheet.


Working initially with a multi-needle tool onto a thin mat will avoid the parchment creasing. After the required embossing, then re-perforate on the thick mat. However, instead of using the ordinary tool, try doing each hole separately with a one-needle tool (I use a PCA bold, but only slipping the needle down to the half-way point into the mat). It seems like a lot of trouble, but you get a much better defined pattern. 


I've been looking at several Parchment Craft Forums lately and noticed quite a few comments about crafters not being able to complete a pattern because they didn't have the right tool. Understandably, not everyone wants to buy a new tool if they are not sure they'll use it that often. One of the suggested solutions was to use a one-needle tool and prick out each of the shapes individually. This is a really good idea, it just takes a bit more time and patience! On the plus side it is really difficult sometimes to line up a special tool - such as the heart tool or the semi-circle tool - with the pattern underneath and it tends to go out of line, problems which if you use the one-needle tool will be avoided. As a pattern designer, I need all the tools to to make the original pattern (well that's my excuse!) and, if you are lucky enough to own them too, you will be able to make the card much quicker. However if you are just starting out or are trying to be good and not buy the next interesting tool, then using the one-needle tool will do just as well. It's not just perforating tools either. For embossing tools, you can always substitute the star tool for the sun tool, or even just emboss a dot in its place. After all, your card is an original art-work, so put your own stamp on it!  


One drawback about using white pencil is that itís difficult to see which part of the design youíve actually traced.  My hint to overcome this is to keep a postcard-sized piece of dark-coloured card handy.  By slipping this between the pattern and the parchment you can see any bits youíve missed.  Instead of an ordinary well-sharpened pencil you can also now buy a propelling pencil with white leads. The make I use is a Staedtler triplus micro 0.5 mm. At first I found that sometimes the leads slipped back inside the pencil, but then I was given the hint to put ALL the leads into the pencil at once, instead of one at a time and this seems to work.


Having spent time with many of you on my workshops and demonstrating at shows I've found many of you are nervous about tracing with ink. Click here for a brief description of this technique.

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Last modified: February 11, 2013