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 Basics – Tracing

Tracing and Parchment craft 

Welcome to a new series of basic techniques and tips aimed at beginners starting parchment craft.

Tracing is usually the first skill you learn for traditional parchment craft.

Parchment paper is translucent and so it is easy to trace, from a line drawing or picture, on to the parchment.

Depending on the finished effect you want, you can use tracing to highlight your design or just use it for guidelines, which are erased in the end.

Here is a link to a video showing you how to trace.

Methods of Tracing on to Parchment Paper

The simplest method is to lay the parchment onto the paper pattern and fix together with low tack tape. Working on a hard surface like card or design board, then use a pencil or pen to follow the pattern.

This can be done with sharp white pencil, or an ordinary pencil,  white or coloured inks a mapping pen and/ or a coloured fineline pen like a white gel pen, or coloured Pigma Micron pens.

Trace with white pencil or pens?

White pencil – use either a mechanical pencil with white leads or a Pergamano White Pencil in the above design the head of the lady has been traced, then the parchment turned and the lines embossed on the back – the pencil on the front is then erased.

Ordinary graphite pencil can be used if you find the white pencil is difficult to see. It is of course, erased afterwards.

The above flower is traced in white ink, this can be done with a white gel pen or mapping pen and white Tinta ink- this gives a different look to the parchment. The line should be really fine for the best effect.

One of my favourite designs from Christine Coleman

Trace with coloured Tinta ink- black for example can give a design , impact.

What do you need

So, to get started tracing you need parchment paper of 150 / 160 gsm and a white pencil/pen or mapping pen and ink and a pattern or picture, a piece of card or a design board to work on. Also you might need, low tack removable tape, a piece of black paper (see tips), a pencil sharpener, an eraser pencil or battery eraser, coloured fineline pens, a pad of kitchen roll to rest your hand on.

Tips for tracing

  • If using a white pencil always keep the point very sharp.
  • Keep a small piece of black card handy to place underneath the parchment to reveal where you have traced and where you have missed a line.
  • Use pencil /pen lightly, don’t press to hard
  • To prevent ‘shaky hand’ – brace the side of your hand on the table and practise drawing an arc smoothly.
  • Keep turning the parchment so your hand is always in a comfortable position.
  • Use the pencil/ pen as vertically as possible.

No tracing 

If you are going to colour the centre flowers with polychromos pencils for example, there maybe no need to trace as you can fix the parchment to the pattern and colour the parchment directly over the line drawing.

PCA Templates for Parchment Craft – Part 4

PCA Easy Cut Templates 

PCA EasyCut templates are made for parchment crafters. They are a brand new set of frames that you can use with your own designs or other embossing templates. Also, there are EasyCut project templates like Pot Pourri Box, Butterfly, Star and Pillow Boxes that you can make up quickly and easily without having to spend hours cutting out.

There are many frames you can use – here is an example of the curvy label frame, there are 6 sizes of Curvy Label Frame on the Easy Cut Template:

Easy to use you just emboss along the tracks with the recommended ball tool, then use a Scriber or Craft Knife along the tracks to cut the parchment paper.

There are also EasyCut Card templates:

Here is an example of the finished card – embossed and decorated:


The projects are really pretty – here are the Pot Pourri Box and Star




First step below shows the parchment paper embossed using the template (simply follow the tracks with a ball tool )


When you have embossed the two templates cut out the box and lid. To do this just follow the tracks using a scriber tool or craft knife following the instructions on the template.

The finished box


The Star

Also available are templates for pillow boxes, butterflies and here is a new design due in a few days:

You can make this stunning lacy frame and flower posy from Templates TP3424E and TP7151EC -available soon  from middle of June –

PCA Templates for Parchment Craft Part 1 Frames, Borders, Corners and Backgrounds

PCA Templates for Parchment Craft Part 2 Pictures

PCA Templates for Parchment Craft Part 3 Edge Templates and Guides 

PCA Templates for Parchment Craft Part 4 Easy Cut Templates

PCA Templates for Parchment Craft Part 5 Parchment Protectors and Words /Sentiments

PCA Templates for Parchment Craft – Part 3

PCA EasyEdge guide Templates  

What are PCA Easy Edge Templates and how can they help a parchment crafter?

When you have finished the central part of the card but still have the edging to create, PCA templates can really help. Or if you want to embellish an existing project with a straight line of embossed dots or suns, or if you want to edge a card with a straight row of holes, scallops or sun tool impressions or a combination of these – there are PCA EasyEdge guide templates to help. These ruler guides usually come in two lengths 130mm and 260mm.

The PCA Easy Edge guide is notched with equally spaced gaps that are sized for the different PCA tools available.  The template is marked with the tool name it is designed for.


The template above can be used with the Medium Ball and the Mega Ball tools.

Sun tools give a really pretty embossed “sun” shape, you may want to create a row on suns in which case you would need a PCA Easy Edge for Sun Tools


There are similar straight ruler guides for scallop edges and single needle holes or perforations.

There really are a lot of different guides to help you with card making. Here is a template to help you create a series of decorative perforations in an arc or semi-circle. The templates are made of transparent plastic so you can see exactly where to place them on your work.



Making an Aperture Card

If you want to make an aperture card with a scalloped edge there are templates with differents size apertures for both small and large fine scallop tools.

image-2 image-1

Choose the size and shape you want for the aperture, that is – oval or rectangle? and small, medium or large size of aperture?


So above you have a small size oval (40 x 60), the Edging Tool required is marked on the template as a Small Scallop and next to it, a small Rectangle also using the small Scallop edging tool.  PCA has created a youtube instructional video to help you get started.

The reverse template to the aperture is the oval templates with scalloped edgings – they are great for cameos, silhouettes or 3D elements to add to your cards. You can probably think of more uses.


There are many Easy Edge Guide Templates, I have only mentioned a few – here is one more rather useful template.

Wedding Stationery Place Setting

It is a pretty template for place settings with a scalloped edge, you can use your imagination to decorate these using parchment craft techniques.


This template uses the Large Fine Scallop tool for decorating the edges. There is an embossed area to place a name. There are more details on how to complete this project on a PCA You Tube video.

In Part 4 parts we will be looking at the new EasyCut Templates.

PCA Templates for Parchment Craft Part 1 Frames, Borders, Corners and Backgrounds

PCA Templates for Parchment Craft Part 2 Pictures

PCA Templates for Parchment Craft Part 3 Edge Templates and Guides 

PCA Templates for Parchment Craft Part 4 Easy Cut Templates

PCA Templates for Parchment Craft Part 5 Parchment Protectors and Words /Sentiments

PCA Templates for Parchment Craft Part 2

PCA Templates – Pictures and Motifs

Here is part 2 of the guide to PCA Template which is going to concentrate on picture and motif templates.

PCA have  a large range of picture templates:  butterflies, flowers, birds, a whole series of owl templates, fans, 3D projects, sport, hobbies and  celebrations like Christmas and Easter and loads more.

The templates can be embossed and used as greetings cards or on other projects such as gift bags, crackers, place settings, wedding stationery, house decor  or  as 3D elements on boxes or just as decorative additions absolutely anywhere. Here is a quick reminder on how to use the templates:

  • Take the template of your choice, place it with the tracks facing up.
  • Attach the parchment to the template with low tack tape or blu tack.
  • Wipe over the parchment with a tumble drier sheet or natural polish, this helps the embossing tools to glide over the parchment with ease.
  • Place some tissue (or use a parchment protector) under your hands as protection from finger prints on your parchment.
  • Using a micro ball tool or small ball depending on the template, start working from the centre towards the outside edge. Place the ball tool in the tracks and just follow the tracks this then forms the embossed line.


Big and small butterflies!

PCA Christmas Templates

There is a huge range of Christmas PCA Templates available featuring Trees, Baubles, Sleighs, Santa, Reindeer, Holly borders, drinks Coasters and much more.

image-12 image-1


Above are three of the many Christmas themed PCA templates. They all have individual matching borders and motifs that can be added to your designs in the way that you want.

PCA Peacock Templates

Fabulous designs for peacocks which look beautiful as embossed line art and you can also add colour using inks or pencils, paint or pens.




Embossed work by kind permission of Sharon Mills (Parchment Craft Designer and Tutor)


Here are some examples of adding colour to an embossed image. Colour can be added to the back or the front of parchment craft paper. This can be by Dorso or Oil pastel crayons, Pencil crayons such as Faber Castell polychromos, inks, acrylic or water colour paints.


image-14 wp

Colour can also be achieved by placing a coloured backing paper or parchment behind the embossed picture.

Mix and Match

Mix and match the border templates with the picture templates.


tp3149e_easy_emboss_simply_flowers_4__61270_zoom tp3149e-easy-emboss-simply-__98154_zoom

This card uses the Daffodis in the PCA Template “Simply Flowers 4” surrounded by a border PCA Template  Diamond Border 2 and looks absolutely gorgeous.  Use Ball Tools or Shaders to add light and shade to the images.

Part 3 of this series will concentrate on the Template Guides and Easy Edging Border guides.

PCA Templates for Parchment Craft Part 1 Frames, Borders, Corners and Backgrounds

PCA Templates for Parchment Craft Part 2 Pictures

PCA Templates for Parchment Craft Part 3 Edge Templates and Guides 

PCA Templates for Parchment Craft Part 4 Easy Cut Templates

PCA Templates for Parchment Craft Part 5 Parchment Protectors and Words /Sentiments

Coloured Pencils – Faber Castell Polychromos or Prismacolor


Prismacolor colour pencils are the major brand in the US but are difficult to find in the UK, Faber Castell Polychromos pencils are most popular in the UK but there are quite a lot of differences between the two sets of pencils and many parchment crafters end up with both sets.

Prismacolor is a set of 132 colours  the pencils have a soft wax core making them easy to blend but they can be difficult to sharpen. Polychromos pencils are a set of 120 pencils they are slightly harder than Prismacolor and therefore are easier to sharpen to a fine point.

The range of colours are very different: Prismacolor have 12 more pencils than the Polychromos selection. Prismacolor has a large selection of neutral colours, Polychromos has a good range of greys and a large range of reds and yellows.

Both makes of pencil blend and  layer well.



Ten Tips for using coloured pencils

  • When buying get the biggest selection you can afford, you always need the colour you haven’t got
  • Use a big make up brush to clear away the bits – do this frequently when you are colouring
  • Hold the pencil as near vertical as you can to prevent breaking the point
  • Always lay colour down with a sharp pencil , sharpen your pencils frequently while colouring
  • Brush the point of the pencil with a brush after sharpening
  • Layer the colours – place one colour on top of another blending as you go
  • Always colour towards the centre of a flower
  • Make a note of the colours you are using, so that you don’t forget
  • Use a pencil extender – or glue two ends together, when your pencils get a little small
  • You can use polychromos pencils instead of dorso crayons, just apply the colour using the side of the pencil to apply a broad stroke then use a medium to smooth it out as usual

Coloured pencils – other items you will need

You will need to invest in a really good pencil sharpener as the pencils need a sharp point!


This Trio sharpener collects the bits until you are ready to dispose of them.

Also an eraser, a pencil eraser can neaten up the edges if necessary, if you are colouring on parchment and get a light transfer of colour from your hand you can use a kneadable putty eraser – which is like blu-tack – to remove the colour. Just press it onto the area and it will pick up the unwanted colour.


Lastly, if you want to burnish the colours use a Lyra Splender Blender, which is a colourless wax blending pencil. Just apply over your colouring for a burnished finish.

lyra splender blender



Parchment Craft Questions and Answers 2

Here is a the second in a series of commonly asked questions about parchment craft. If you missed the first one here is a link.

I am an absolute beginner – should I start with Bold tools and Grid and progress onto the Fine?

Yes, in general start with bold and progress to fine – this is  because the holes are larger on the bold grids and therefore easier to work with. You can easily practise the perforating and cutting of crosses using bold tools. However, I would also suggest that you start with a pattern that you like, whether it is from a book, magazine or a pattern pack, and get the tools and equipment you need for that pattern. That way you won’t need to spend a huge amount to equip yourself with tools you might not use.

Parchment Craft is a very wide ranging hobby and you can find plenty of patterns with no gridwork at all just embossing  and/or colouring. Beginners equipment recommendations.


Why not start with Tina Cox’s Didi Cards pattern pack?


There are some grids with assorted patterns already on them do you use a Fine or Bold tools with these, or are you supposed to use a fine embossing tool?


The Multi Grids made by Pergamano  have patterns, motifs, borders, backgrounds, words etc on them. These grids are very useful and can be used for both perforating and embossing. They are all designed to work directly with perforating  1 Needle tool 10241 and you can also emboss  using the Extra Small Ball or the Fine Stylus (stainless steel).  Remember the general rule, Emboss on the back of the parchment and Perforate on the front.

Should I use an edging tool to cut the edges  or do you use a semi circle and then snip with scissors?

The Pergamano perforating tool called a  ‘2 Split’ is an edging tool that cuts as it perforates. Just perforate the edge with a 2split then it should separate along the perforations- an easy and quick edging.  PCA have a range of edging tools, any PCA tool with ‘Edge’ in the name will perforate and cut (stamp edge, medium scallop edge etc). But it is true that you will get a neater finish if you use  an ordinary tool along the edge like a semi circle or a semi square or 2 Needle and cut with parchment scissors or snips.

Pergamano 2 Needle                         Pergamano 2 Split

Parchment Craft – How to Cut Crosses and Picot Edges


Practise make perfect!

Make a group of four holes using a 4 Needle tool or Quad tool, always approach the far side holes in the group of four, put your scissor tips into the holes lower and twist the scissor points to the left and snip.


Approach the hole so that when you cut the tooth or V will point to the centre of the group of four holes.




Turn the parchment one quarter turn and approach the next set of two holes in the same way so that the tooth or V points to the centre of four holes.




Turn the parchment one quarter turn and approach the next set of two holes in the same way.





Turn the parchment one quarter turn and cut the last pair of holes in the same way. Remove any tag still hanging by rubbing gently with your finger.


This method should give you a neat cross shape, it is always difficult at first, but once you have practised for a while it becomes easier and the cross will look neater.



You will need Perga cutters or Parchment Scissors, parchment paper and a twin needle tool (this one is Bold).  All instructions are for the right handed.


Perforate with the twin needle tool, neat evenly spaced holes. Snipping in the same way as cutting crosses. Place the very tips of the points of the cutters/ scissors into the first two holes.



Lower the cutters / scissors so that they are almost parallel to the parchment and keeping the cutters pointing straight (at a right angle to the perforations) twist slightly to the left (anti-clockwise) and snip.



Always move the parchment around to make the snipping easier. You should end up with neat little V shaped teeth along the edge. Hope this is helpful – just keep practising.

Parchment Craft Technique Explained – Stippling

artnouveau rose


Stippling is an embossed, textured finish. The rose frame is stippled in the above card. It produces soft, delicate look which is just right for this frame.

Stippling is a really interesting effect, easy to do but takes a bit of time to achieve, the idea is to tap the single needle tool on to parchment to create an embossed effect, a tiny white dot – not piercing the parchment. Keep a single needle bold in your tool collection specifically for stippling.



Before you start, the pattern should be traced in white pencil.

1. Outline area to be stippled with a stylus or micro ball with an embossing mat under the parchment.

2. Change the embossing mat for a piece of dark card and on the back of the parchment start tapping the single needle tool in the area to be stippled. The tool is held in a vertical position to get a good result.

3. The stippled dots should be very close together to produce a texture, take your time.

4. Start in a corner and stipple around the outside then fill in, try to keep the texture even. Turn over and check the front.

5. Finish by colouring the back of the stippled area with a white pencil. This will improve the appearance of the area.


Other variations to try:

Lightly emboss the parchment before you stipple with an extra large ball tool.

Using fine sandpaper between the card and the parchment to help create an even texture.

Try stippling with other tools, such as the Arrow tool or Scriber

Very quick stippling effect can be gained by using a Star / Sun tool overlapping the impressions so that the dots merge.

Making an Envelope for your hand-made cards

This is a  step by step guide to making your own envelopes  – exactly the right size for your hand made card.





Pencil and ruler

The card you want to make an envelope for

12″ x 12″ Paper

Strong Stick glue

Double sided tape

Corner Rounder punch

Paper Trimmer



1. Measure the diagonal of the card you want to make an envelope for (I’m using metric)


2. Add 2.5cm (1″) to the diagonal measurement, my card measures 20cm.

Therefore my envelope paper square will need to be 22.5cm x 22.5cm.


3. Cut a square of envelope paper, 22.5cm x 22.5cm using the paper cutter.


4. Centre the card on the square of paper like a rectangle over a diamond, it is worth making sure that the card is absolutely in the centre at this point; because the points of the paper need to be equal size and even when folded in.

5. Make a pencil line 0.5cm larger than the card,  the pencil lines should cross over at the corners.
6. Cut out the upper triangles where the pencil lines cross.

7. Score the pencil lines using a scoreboard and bone folder.


8. Round the envelope flap with a corner rounder punch. Glue the envelope together with strong stick glue. Use double sided tape on the flap or Lick and Stick Glue.

DSCF5258 DSCF5260

I have embossed a design on the flap.

Practise making the envelope first if you are not sure, the more you make them, the better they will become.

Other ways of making envelopes using specially designed boards:

Crafters Companion Enveloper

Memory Keepers Punch Board

My Paper Stash Envelope Maker