Parchment Craft Patterns

This page was last updated Sunday, 13 February 2000

The paper used in parchment craft (commercial name: Pergamano) is heavy vellum, not parchment. Decorative techniques include most of those used for other paper crafts. The special character of parchment craft comes from the embossing that gives it the look of bas relief and the piercing and cutting that gives some designs the look of lace. For all-white decoration, I trace the design on the paper with white ink so the lines will not show after embossing. For all other work, I prepare the design on the computer and then print it on the paper with an ink-jet printer.

Below are some parchment craft items I created from a combination of traditional and original designs and techniques.


^Valentine with quilted hearts^


Angel Mother

This design is taken from a book illustration of the 1800s. I printed the outline in cyan on white vellum and then embossed the details. The design shows up best backed by colored paper. The original was framed in an oval frame of parchment craft lace and used as a Mother's Day card

Resize the pattern to suit the area you wish to decorate.



My friends enjoy receiving handmade vellum bookmarks like these:


The Small Peony

a traditional Chinese design to be drawn and colored by hand
The flower on the bookmarks above is simple to make if you follow these steps in order.

1. Mentally divide a square of paper into quarters. In the northwest quarter near the center of the paper, draw a single petal.

2. Add another petal on either side of the first one at the angles indicated.

3. Add two more petals, one at the lower end of the row of three and another tucked between two petals as shown.

4. Add three more petals and the stem.

5. Add two more petals in the empty spaces at the top to complete the round shape of the flower. The flower should have ten petals as shown. Traditionally the edges of the petals are now traced in silver or gold. However, when using this flower design for parchment craft, if you have done your drawing with white ink, you may want to leave the petal edges white and enhance them with embossing.

6. For the colors, you need to choose three shades of one color. I have used pink, magenta, and wine. Use either very fine point pens or well-sharpened colored pencils. Begin with the lightest color. Identify the base of the petal. From that point draw rays going out almost to the edge of that petal.

7. With the next darkest color (in this case, magenta) make another set of rays between and shorter than the original rays.

8. Use the darkest shade to make short rays coming out from the base of the petal to create the 3-dimensional look of a shadowed petal. Now that you see how one petal is done, do each of the other petals the same way. I find it easiest to begin by putting in all the lightest rays, then all the medium color, andthen all the shadows.

Be sure that all your petals are colored. You will find that some petals do not require as much shadow as others since another petal may be covering the center.

9. Lastly, color the stem. Your peony is now ready to emboss.

10. Use a fine embossing tool to emboss the edges of the petals and then to emboss the rays with the heaviest embossing where there is the most color. With the medium embossing tool, outline and then emboss the stem.

The Moon Crane

another traditional Chinese design

The moon crane design requires three shades of a single color, nearly white, medium, and dark. In this version I have used white, silver, and gold for the feathers and have then used the traditional red cap and black bill, blues for the water, and natural colors for the leaves and flowers.


The Moon Crane pattern