Parchment Craft Beginners – Dorsing

Dorsing is a technique for colouring parchment. You can use Dorso Crayons but Oil pastels or Polychromos Pencils will also work well.  The crayons are applied  on the back of the parchment (usually but not always) and then rubbed with a folded piece of kitchen paper plus a tiny bit of medium to smooth and blend, this gives a really subtle background colour for parchment craft projects. Below is a step by step guide.

Using the dorsing technique you can also create rainbow parchment paper or simple backgrounds to go behind your parchment craft designs.  

Pergamano Dorso Crayons  – two sets available

How to Dorse

You will need

Parchment craft paper, crayons, medium and kitchen roll


You can use Dorso Oil, Zest It, or White Spirit (Mineral Spirits), I think Barbeque fluid also works, or any other medium.

Just follow the few steps to create coloured parchment paper:

Put the sheet of parchment onto a hard clean surface and fix into place if possible

Make sure that the crayon you are using has an angled flatish surface – if you do not have a slanted broad surface on your crayon, carefully cut the end to the shape below

Apply broad strokes of colour – don’t use a point

fold the kitchen roll into a pad and drop a couple of drops of medium onto it

use circular movements to spread the colour evenly  onto the parchment

Rub until you can no longer see the strokes

Not quite finished

How to Dorse more than one colour

  1. Start as before
  2. Apply the colours in wide stripes – diagonal – zig zag – wavy lines – or whatever you want
  3. Smooth out the colours one at a time using a clean piece of kitchen roll with a tiny drop of medium for each colour
  4. Then gently merge each joining line so that the colours fade into each other. Keep refolding the kitchen roll so that it is clean – use medium as required.


Fold the kitchen roll and apply a tiny drop of medium as before but apply a small amount to the plain parchment

Then rub the kitchen roll on the crayon and apply the colour to the parchment paper in circular movements.


Faber Castell Oil Pastels


Uneven effect after using the medium  – Use a little more medium

Colour disappears  – Use less medium

Too much or too little colour – Apply less or more crayon – best to practise on a piece of scrap first to see how the colour works out.

Experiment with Dorsing

Try experimenting with low tack tape to mask areas you do not want coloured – create stripes, checks, patterns as backgrounds for your designs.



Parchment Craft Tools and Equipment – Grids – A Beginners Guide

History of Grids

The original Pergamano grids for parchment craft were ‘wire mesh’ enclosed within a plastic frame. They are still available second hand – they were discontinued in favour of the metal Multi Grids some years ago. There are still some tools associated with the mesh grid available:  the ‘Diamond’ perforating tool and ‘Triangle’ perforating tool and also the ‘Arrow’ perforating tool.  image-7

Pergamano Easy Grid


Pergamano Multi-Grids

The Multi Grids are a series of stainless steel designer grids. They are mostly A5 in size  (grid no 28 is A4 size).


Tools Required for Multi Grids

You can emboss and perforate using the grids. Use the Single needle tools for perforating and the Stainless Steel Fine Stylus and Extra Small Ball tool for embossing.
For Perforating – Single Needle Tool and Single Needle Bold
For Embossing – Pergamano Extra Small Ball 1mm and Fine Stylus 0.5mm
Most of the Multi Grids have designer patterns and themes for you to mix and match on your cards. These cards were made using Pergamano Multi Grid no 33 Butterfly Kisses and  no 36 Summer Garden. There  are four plain grids to use for making your own designs or making use of gridwork patterns from books, patterns or DVDs.

Diagonal Multi Grids

A Pergamano Diagonal Grid has holes offset at 60 degrees

Diagonal: No 19 – Bold
Diagonal  No 24  –  Fine

Straight Multi Grids  

Straight Grid:   No 4  –  Fine
Straight Grid: No 28 – Bold

Tips for using  Pergamano Multi -Grids

This method shows you how to emboss using the grid – and then perforate using the grid

  1. Attach parchment paper to the grid with removable magic tape or masking tape.
  2. Place the grid on an embossing mat and emboss where required. Pergamano recommend that the Stainless Steel ball tools are used on the Multi Grids:  Fine Stylus 10032 and Extra Small Ball Tool 10072. If no embossing is required go to step 3.
  3. Turn the Multi-Grid over, with parchment still attached, change the mat to a deeper perforating mat and perforate the pattern using a single needle tool 10241.
  4. Remove the the parchment paper from the grid and using parchment scissors or Perga Cutters cut out the perforations where necessary.

If this method does not work for you take the parchment off the grid after embossing, turn it over so that the right side is facing you and carefully match the embossing pattern up so that your perforations will be in the right place. Fix the parchment down on the grid with tape, make sure you have changed to a perforating pad and perforate where required.

New to grids?

A Bold grid is easier to use if you are a beginner -you will need a bold perforating needle as well.

Can I use Pergamano tools with PCA grids?

No, the needles don’t fit very well. It’s best to stick to the tools that match the grids. The Pergamano single needle works well in the Siesta grids and Groovi grids.

PCA – Parchcraft Australia – FlexiDuo Grids

PCA grids are all A4 size and made of a flexible steel  –
image-1 image
PCA BOLD STRAIGHT                            PCA FINE STRAIGHT
As well as the Straight grid, PCA make a Diagonal Grid the holes on this grid are offset at 90 degrees – same as the straight grid.

Tools required for PCA FlexiDuo Grids

For perforating use PCA Unifine tool, and Unibold tools in the PCA Fine and Bold grids
Once you start perforating the parchment is fixed to the grid and won’t move. You can also use the PCA twin, quad, oct tools and many more on the grids
For embossing use Small ball on the Bold grids and Micro Ball on the Fine grids

Tips for using PCA grids

This is the order to place the mat grid and paper ( bottom to top)


Perforate with either a Unibold or a Unifine according to your grid and pattern.

Fourth: Place the parchment paper on the grid ‘right side up’

Third: Place the FlexiDuo Grid on the top

Second: Place a tumble drier cloth on the perforating mat (optional) Tip – the tumble drier cloth lubricates the perforating tools so they don’t ‘stick’

First: Place an A4 perforating mat on the table.


Make a little sample (one pattern repeat) of your design on scrap parchment, then you can use the perforated sample to, perforate or check the holes are in the right places as you move through the pattern.

Embossing Dots on a PCA grid

  • If your pattern requires embossing and perforating it is usually best to emboss before you do perforations, but follow your pattern instructions for best results. The parchment paper should be ‘front side down’ if you are embossing dots.
  • Use an embossing ball tool  slightly larger than the holes in the grid. (small ball for bold, micro ball for fine)
  • You can emboss dots with the grid on a hard surface (no mat)

Siesta – Designer Grids



Siesta Designer Grids, Medium Grids and Small and Large Grids  and Ruler Grids are also made from steel. Most of the small and large grids come with a free perforating mat. The Ruler Grids come in a range of designs for making easy borders. The designer grids enable you to decorate parchment paper with motifs, borders, frames, corner embellishments and more. The Medium Grids have a range of flower motifs and patterns for a fan.



Plastic Grids from Groovi

The plastic regular grids are also in either straight or diagonal similar to the Pergamano grids.


A4 size grid in Straight and Diagonal types (above) – there are also smaller plastic grids available 148mm x 148mm (below) in both straight and diagonal

 Border Grids with perforating patterns / designs

Just follow the pattern on the plastic border plate grid.

Tina Cox’s small guide books for Groovi Piercing Border Plates.

More Help


Grid and Lace Work DVD is an excellent instructional DVD by Christine Coleman -learn how to use PCA grids while completing several projects.


Best of the Best 2 GridWork  by Kannikar Sukseree – a collection of gridwork designs to use in your projects