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Paper Piercing!

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Card Projects by Sharon M. Reinhart

Paper piercing is a great technique that can add the perfect accent to a card, or it can also be used to create a focal point. It is one that any level of crafter from beginner to advanced can accomplish with very little effort or supplies. In case you are not familiar with it, paper piercing is exactly as the name implies, the piercing of the paper using a sharp tool to create small holes. It is sometimes also referred to as paper pricking. In this issue we will discuss the supplies required, the different tools and techniques that may be used to create a variety of effects, and some everyday items that may be used as an alternative to purchasing further supplies. Let's get started!

The most basic materials that are required in order to create a pierced design are a piercing tool, ruler, foam mat and paper. Piercing tools may be as simple as a pushpin or a needle in a cork. However, if you plan on using this technique often, you may wish to invest in a piercing tool that has been specifically designed for this purpose. The tool will be more comfortable in your hand and the performance quality and consistency is generally better. There are a variety of manufacturers who sell piercing tools, such as Stampin' Up, Ecstasy Crafts and, one of my favorites, the Tim Holtz Retractable Craft Pick. To achieve the best results when piercing by hand, try holding the piercing tool upright rather than holding it like a pen.

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A foam mat is a necessity in order to achieve consistent results and to protect your piercing tool and work surface. Again, there are a variety of foam mats available that have been designed for this purpose. Some alternatives that work wonderfully are a foam mouse pad, thick craft foam and even some of the foam toys that can be found at dollar stores. For piercing smaller areas, I found foam dominoes that are small and portable, and I always have one in my tool kit. For classes, I like to use children's foam puzzle pieces as they are inexpensive and larger than the dominoes.

The weight and style of paper that may be used also varies from text weight to cardstock. Another type of paper that offers beautiful results -- and is a technique in and of itself -- is parchment paper or heavy-weight vellum. You may have heard of parchment crafting or the brand name often associated with parchment crafting -- Pergamano. This technique goes above and beyond your basic paper piercing and uses some of the same supplies as basic paper piercing as well as some more advanced tools. Some of these tools have more than one piercing needle, which creates very beautiful designs.

The other item you'll need is some sort of guide to follow when piercing a design. This area has truly endless options. The most basic option is to simply use a ruler and pierce at equal or consistent measurements. Consistency with this method may be a bit harder to achieve, but it is possible. Check out this video by Robin Arnold using the basic ruler technique. Project 1 shows a good example of the basic ruler method on the sentiment panel. Another method uses the Tim Holtz Design ruler, a clear acrylic ruler that has many wonderful features along with piercing holes that are 1/8 inch apart. This method offers more accuracy than a plain ruler.

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Project 1

For basic guide templates it is even possible to use the computer and print out multiple dots in a line or insert a basic shape and format the line as a dashed line. Graph paper is another option for use as a guide. Plastic canvas works wonderfully as a guide and is available in an assortment of sizes and shapes such as rectangle mats, squares and circles. For an ultra-quick alternative, if you have a sewing machine simply stitch without using thread. If your machine has some fancy stitches your options are almost limitless!

There are many tools available that have been designed specifically for this technique and are referred to as paper-piercing templates. Some are a plastic base such as the piercing templates from Stampin' Up!, which also coordinate with their punches, and Framelits and Edgelits dies. Metal templates are also available from suppliers such as Ecstasy Crafts. Project 2 makes use of a metal template for the pierced-edge design.

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Project 2

Border punches are another great option to create pierced designs. Again, there are several companies that produce border punches that result in pierced designs. EK Success and Martha Stewart Crafts are two such companies. The border along the right side shown in Project 1 was completed using a Martha Stewart border punch.

If you like to use die-templates, Project 3 shows another quick and easy option. The pierced scallop border shown in Project 3 makes use of a metal die template by Spellbinders®. Not only is the pierced design beautiful, it is also a great method for spacing brads, the other manner in which die templates can be used is as a guide. The scalloped oval cardstock was created using a die template, but then that same die was also used as a piercing guide. The indent of each scallop became the guide for piercing a hole. Many dies available have embossed dots which may also serve as a piercing guide. Speaking of embossed, embossing folders are one more option. Simply emboss a scrap of cardstock and then use the embossed design as a guide. A panel of embossed dots would work great as a guide. There is also the option of using an embossed decorative panel, using the connection points in the design as a guide for piercing.

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Project 3

Printed paper and rubber-stamped images are another source to turn to. Project 1 makes use of a rubber-stamped image. Portions of the image are dotted circles; to accentuate the areas, just place the stamped cardstock onto a foam mat and pierce following the design. Or if you just want to use the stamped image as a pattern, stamp on a scrap of paper and then place it on top of your card and pierce through both the pattern and the card.

As you can see, there truly are many options to choose from. Take a second look at your supplies, and you may find some little gems that would work perfectly for use as guide templates or even tools. I hope you have been inspired to create and add some paper piercing to your next card!

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