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Intro to Perforating, Part 1

April 6, 2010

One of the basic techniques used in parchment art is perforating. This can be perforating around an area that is meant to be cut out, such as perforating around the border of a project, or piercing an area within the pattern, such as within lace work.

Let me start with perforating around the border. There are several different tools that can be used, starting with the 2-needle tool. There are also cutting tools, such as edgers, which cut away the waste as you are perforating.

However, I have found that while using the 2-needle tool may take a bit longer, the end result is lovely picot edges. It is these picot edges, when properly done, that are a sort of “trademark” (if you will) of parchment crafting. Next you want a perforating pad. There are a number of perforating pads on the market, but one of the most cost effective is to use two sheets of 2mm funky foam found at any craft store.

When perforating with any tool, you need to hold the tool completely vertical.  If the tool is held at an angle, it will stretch the paper, thus ruining the lovely picot edges that you want. If you are not sure that you are holding your perforating tool vertically, try placing a mirror in front of your work so that you can see what you are doing.

To perforate outlines you first want your paper face up on your perforating pad. Start by inserting your 2-needle tool just along the outside of the outline.

To keep the perforations in equal distances, on the next perforation insert one needle of the tool into the previous perforation, and continue on in this way until you reach where you want to stop.

If your pattern has areas that are to be perforated and cut out, you use this same technique. You can see the cut-outs in the Art Deco lady (pattern from April 2010 issue of Parchment Craft magazine)

Once you have perforated around the border or the large sections of your project (or both!), it is time to cut off the waste paper. Enter the scissors or snips discussion!

Basically, to best describe the type of scissors used is they are a fine-tipped-curved-cuticle-like scissor. Of course, when I want to take a picture of these scissors to show you, I can’t for the life of me find them! So, instead, here is a stock photo of two of the Pergamano® brand scissors:

the Pergamano® Exclusive:

and the ringlock®:

Another choice is the snips, which is what I use. Personally, with my arthritic fingers the snips are the most comfortable and the easiest for me to control. You will need to explore which is the most comfortable for you. I was able to find a similar pair of snips at one of the local craft stores, in the jewelry making section, however the tips are a bit bigger than the Pergamano® brand snips. In this photo, the snips I found are in the front (so that you can hopefully see how much bigger the tips are) and the P-brand behind.


If  you decide to try the snips, and the P-brand isn’t readily available, these other snips are good in a pinch. One thing, though, you must be extra careful not to put the tips into your perforations too far, as they will stretch the paper, or worse, tear the perforations!

You will barely put the tips of either the scissors or snips into the first set of perforations. As you cut, you want a little wrist action, twisting to the left. When you have finished cutting all around, you will have lovely points on each cut.

Here on this corner, I’ve used the 2-needle tool and the fine mini-edger to show the difference of the final results. Admittedly, I am not that proficient with the edger, and I tried to perforate farther away from the border to show the results between the two tools.

Part 2 perforating with a grid and in a pattern is coming soon!

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3 Comments
  1. April 6, 2010 6:48 pm

    Great job, C!!!!! I also have always used the Funky foam for perfing…….but I also use only one piece of it for all my cutting as well :)) The work then always lays flat while cutting and the heat from holding the parchment in your hand (for those who do it that way) doesn’t end up buckling the paper if it’s held in one place for too long.

  2. cepet permalink
    April 6, 2010 9:06 pm

    Great tip on the ff for cutting, V. Will have to start a “tips” section!

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