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Guide to Parchment Craft

By: Natasha Reed - Updated: 5 Jan 2017 | comments*Discuss
Parchment Craft Translucent Papers

Parchment craft uses specialist translucent papers that change colour and become stretched when pressure is applied with tools. This technique is known as embossing. The essence of parchment craft is in varying the amount of embossing to the paper to control the shade and tone of colour in the design.

Traditionally parchment craft designs were all white on a translucent paper and the simplicity of this approach keeps it popular with crafters today. However the craft has developed over recent years and new products such as coloured parchment papers and coloured inks to apply to the design have allowed crafters to take it a stage further. Designs can be further enhanced by pricking and cutting the parchment paper.


Parchment paper is relatively thick and strong at 150gsm making it easy to handle. Parchment vellums are thinner at 90gsm. They are translucent, but can come in an array of colours and patterns still. You can use both parchment paper and vellum with a home computer if you want to add a personalised message before embossing. You will also need a white pencil, white ink and a special embossing tool to practice this craft. You may choose to use coloured or metallic inks.

How to Do It

Tracing and embossing are basic techniques in parchment craft. You will always need to do these before beginning. Your chosen design has first to be traced onto the parchment paper before being embossed. Designs can be embossed from just one side of the paper or both sides.

Butterfly Card

This simple butterfly greeting card looks really effective when adhered to a colourful blank card. If you want to take this project a step further you can colour the parchment paper with colouring pencils.

You will need:

  • Foam pad
  • White pencil
  • Parchment paper, 12cm x 14cm
  • Embossing tools
  • Mauve single fold card 12cm square
  • Purple ribbon, 40cm

Step 1

design is traced onto parchmentChoose your image that you wish to trace, here a butterfly is used. Place the parchment paper over the image and using a white pencil trace the butterfly image. Do not press too hard with the pencil when tracing. 20px break

Step 2

outline is embossed with ball headed toolPlace the parchment paper onto your foam pad with the pencil design uppermost. Emboss the butterfly outline with the small ball embossing tool applying moderate pressure. Then emboss the whole butterfly with the larger embossing tool. You will find that the tool warms up the more you use it, but if it does not glide smoothly, rub it on waxed paper. Keep turning your parchment paper over to see how the 'good' side is looking. You will see that the more pressure you apply with the tool the whiter the paper becomes. With a butterfly image it is essential that both wings are the same. 20px break

Step 3

finished cardNow cut out the butterfly shape using a pair of small scissors, leaving a narrow margin around the outermost white pencil line. Carefully cut around the antennae. Apply PVA glue to the body of the butterfly only and adhere to a single fold mauve card. Take a 40cm length of purple ribbon and tie around the spine of the card in a reef knot, then trim the ends. 20px break

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What is the foam pad you're using.Can you recommend one.Thanks
Millie - 5-Jan-17 @ 10:05 PM
Michelle I think that's the way it's supposed to be. When you turn it over its like 3 d. Try not pressing so hard, because you can always go back over it. Good luck.
Frankie - 23-Jun-15 @ 1:18 PM
hi,I'm just wondering why my 150grms vellum i use bubbles when I'm colouring in the picture on the vellum.You run your finger over the picture when you've coloured it in,and it docent sit flat.
michelle ord - 20-Jul-14 @ 9:43 AM
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