Parchment craft is a paper working technique that involves deforming a piece of special plasticized vellum with small metal tools. Once deformed, known as embossing, the vellum changes colour from dull grey to purest white, and it is this change that we use to create the beautiful images parchment craft is renown for.
Getting Started with Parchment Craft
As soon as you start looking in to parchment craft one of the first things you will notice is that there is a huge range of different tools available, and it can be difficult to know which to buy first. Some tools are absolutely vital and you will really struggle without them, but others are highly specialised and you will barely ever use them.
Luckily the basic tools are generally the easiest ones to buy and you should be able to find supplies in any large quality craft shop.
If you are struggling though, it’s always worth giving reputable online auction sites a try too as you can pick up a bargain if you don’t mind buying second hand – just make sure you always check the returns policy in case you are not happy with your purchase.
These are the tools you cannot do without, they are the basics.
- Embossing mat – this is a soft spongy surface that you will require for all embossing work.
- White pencil – most parchment requires you to trace a template and a sharp white pencil is vital for this.
- Black fine line pen (0.4mm or less) – for all tracing that requires a black line, as well as filling in eyes and spots on animals.
- Vellum – You need vellum designed specifically for parchment craft. It needs to deform uniformly and be supple enough to resist tearing. As you can see from the image on the right, parchment vellum is also slightly translucent, allowing you to trace a pattern through it.
- Embossing ball tools – extra small, small, large and extra large (there is no medium). These are what you use in white work to create the different shaded effects.
- White wax – vellum has a very slight friction that can prevent the ball tools from gliding smoothly. By rubbing your vellum lightly with white wax – and this needs to be no more complicated than a tea light – you will make the vellum perfectly slippy and wonderfully easy to work with.
These are the basic tools you need to get started so that you can have a little play. Once you are happy with your new hobby you can start expanding your tool collection to include grids and piercing tools.
So, now that you’ve decided to give parchment craft a go, you will probably start off with small floral patterns like the one on the right – most people do because flowers are fairly easy and forgiving and can be used for a whole host of different cards. But where you go from there is entirely up to you.
Most of my patterns are based on animals, either real or fantasy because they are what inspire me. I love their shapes and the different textures of their feathers and fur, and I feel that pure white work is the best way to show this off.
While many of my patterns are for more advanced parchment crafters some, like the humming bird on the left from Embossing Art 1, are simpler and a great way to introduce yourself to my style of parchment craft.
Wherever your parchment crafting leads you, I hope it is a hobby you enjoy as much as I do.