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 have already 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 and try again. Please click here for detailed instructions on how I like to colour with blendable pencils.


If you see this in pattern instructions, it means adding some colour with oil pastels - usually on the reverse of the parchment - and smoothing it out with blending medium. However, it is now more usual to add that colour with blendable pencils instead of oil pastels. Here are the instructions to help with both types of colouring.

Oil Pastel.  If you work straight onto the back of the parchment with the oil pastel, you can sometimes get a streak of colour which is impossible to move. My favourite way of using pastels is to take a piece of kitchen paper, folded into a point.  Dip it into your spreading medium and rub a little on the parchment where you want the colour. Now rub the same piece of paper on your pastel, taking off some colour. Then use this to work onto the parchment.  Because the pastel never touches the parchment, you avoid those hard lines.

Blendable Pencil.  On the reverse of the parchment, add the colour with the pencil, not with the point but by laying the pencil down to work on the side of the point.  Make this a very light layer of colour because the blending medium will make it darker.   Now take a dab of your blending medium on a piece of kitchen towel and rub over the colour to spread and smooth it out.  To get into small corners or shapes, use a blending stick.  These are rolled paper sticks which you can buy in shops or on-line where they stock art supplies.  You can also make your own blending stick by tightly rolling a piece of kitchen paper into a point.



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 to using white pencil is that its difficult to see which part of the design has been traced.  To overcome this, keep a strip of dark-coloured card handy.  By slipping this between the pattern and the parchment, you can see any bits you may have missed.  Instead of a well-sharpened white pencil, you can also now buy white leads which fit into 0.9mm propelling pencils (see www.whitecat.com). An alternative is to use a pencil which has ordinary black leads. This makes it difficult to see the lines when using a black embossing mat, however, you can buy blue embossing mats - or I often use a silicone mat which I bought for rolling out pastry. It works really well. 


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: April 16, 2020