Paper tole is a slow craft so don’t expect to finish it all in 1 session.  Taking your time can be therapeutic and allow you to achieve a much better end result.
For our example we are using the Pansies & Ivy kit from the PTC Prints range. This kit contains 5 prints, instructions for 12 pieces and requires you to perform basic paper tole techniques to shape and layer the flat print in order to create a 3D image.

Equipment

Ensure you have all the equipment you need or at least what you will need for your current session.  For this kit you will need the following equipment:-

·         Cutting mat – for protecting your work surface.  Self healing if possible as the more cuts you make the rougher the cutting surface gets making it harder to cut in the direction you want.

·         Craft knife or scalpel – a fine, sharp blade is required for precise cutting and clean edges.

·         Blades – replacement blades for craft knife or scalpel

·         Adhesive spray – for fixing the base sheet to the backing board.

·         Backing board – foam core or strong art board for adhering the base sheet to.  It is also the anchor point for building up the framing mats when your paper tole is being framed; therefore it needs to be at least 50mm larger on all sides than the base sheet.

·         PVA glue – is used to seal the back of your prints to stop any oil from the silicone leaching through to the front of the print over time.

·         Silicone – is used as the ‘glue’ and a pliable spacer between the layers of your paper tole.

·         Shaping tools – a stylus with two ends.  One being rounded end to provide general shape and curvature to a piece and the second sharper end used to etch emphasis into pieces such as veins on leaves.  You may wish to have a few in various sizes.

·         Shaping mat – a soft/flexible mat with a small amount of give.  The give allows the piece to be shaped without breaking the fibres/surface of the piece.

·         Water colour pencils – used to colour the edges of the pieces so that the white cut edges blend in rather than stand out.

·         Small scissors - (optional) for cutting and feathering.

·         Tweezers pointy nosed - (optional) for picking up and placing fiddly pieces.

·         High gloss varnish - (optional) used to highlight a feature such as eyes or make an item a feature.

Preparation

1.    It is recommended that you number the prints 1 through to 4 leaving the remaining one as the base sheet.  This helps to identify the sheets/prints being referred to in the instructions. 

2.    Check the cutting instructions prior to preparing the base sheet to see whether any pieces are being cut out of the base sheet which in this instance there are.  Cut out pieces 7 & 9 as indicated in the base sheet diagram and put aside for later.  The cut out void will be covered by the building up of pieces above the base sheet.

3.    With your backing board handy, coat the base sheet with spray adhesive and place in the centre of the backing board.  Smooth the base sheet out with your fingers making sure there are no air bubbles left under it and allow to dry.

4.    Seal the remaining prints by placing them face down on paper covering a flat surface and brushing the back of the prints with PVA glue.  Be careful not to go right to the edge of the print as this will cause them to curl.  Straighten/flatten out the prints and leave them to dry preferably 24 hours. If not completely dry you can place them in between sheets of baking paper to stop them sticking to each other.

Cutting out the pieces

1.    Look through the cutting instructions and sheet diagrams prior to cutting.
The number beside each piece in the diagrams indicates its assembly order.
The black dots show what areas/pieces require shaping - which we will do later.
Take special notice of the scoop (the curved 2 ended arrow); the reason for the scoop is to create a line of continuity.  If you scoop a little extra into the piece as shown by the arrow, it will be covered up by an overlapping piece without looking disjointed.

2.    Cut out the pieces from sheets 1 to 4 as shown in the sheet diagrams and cutting instructions and slice where indicated.  Make sure you cut piece 5 from piece 1.  The cut out void will be covered by the building up of pieces above piece 1.

3.    Colour the edges with the appropriate, slightly moistened, water colour pencil.

 Tip: To avoid losing any pieces, place them on a photo album refill page, using one page for each sheet.

Shaping and attaching the pieces

The black dots in the diagrams show what areas/pieces require shaping.

Etch (impress deeply)  Place the printed surface upwards on the soft shaping mat then using the sharp end of the shaping tool press firmly but gently along the lines that you wish to highlight Eg.

·         veins on leaves, folds in dresses, eyes, lines down trees, brick and pavers

·         Boxes have flat sides and sharp edges so etch down the corners and fold back the sides but do not shape.

Shape (stretching out the fibres in the paper causing a rounded effect). Shape things to look as natural as possible by gently stretching the paper with a shaping tool on top of a soft shaping mat. Eg.

·         Tree trunks are cylinder shaped so place your shaping tool on the back of the tree so that it lies down the trunk and roll it from side to side.

·         Balls are round so start on the back in the middle and slowly shape outwards in a circular motion.

Piece 1

1.    Place piece printed side up on a shaping mat.  Etch the veins on the leaves that are indicated by a black dot.

2.    Turn the piece printed side down.  Shape using the rounded end of the shaping tool, on either side of the etch lines.  Don’t press too heavily as you will crinkle the edges of the paper.

3.    Turn the piece printed side up.  Using the thinner end of the tool, not the sharp etching point, shape the darker shadowed areas of the petals indicated by a black dot.

4.    Turn the piece printed side down and shape in between the indents.  The effect should look slightly wavy.

5.    With printed side down place four mounds of silicone about 5mm to 8mm high on the piece.  Align the piece with the image on the base sheet and press down slightly to make sure the piece is attached.  The piece should be at least 4mm up from the base sheet.  As the silicone does not dry instantly you have time to adjust the piece into the best position.  The small leaves look good if allowed to fall back naturally.

Piece 2
Notice that the leaves and petals that were shaped on Piece 1 are not part of/ or covered by Piece 2.

1.    Place piece printed side up on a shaping mat.  Etch the veins on the leaves that are indicated by a black dot.

2.    Turn the piece printed side down.  Shape using the rounded end of the shaping tool, on either side of the etch lines.  Don’t press too heavily as you will crinkle the edges of the paper.

3.    Turn the piece printed side up.  Using the thinner end of the tool, not the sharp etching point, shape the darker shadowed areas of the petals indicated by a black dot.

4.    Turn the piece printed side down and shape in between the indents.  The effect should look slightly wavy.

6.    Turn the piece printed side up and press gently in the middle of the pink and mauve flowers; this will make the edges of the flowers sit up slightly.

7.    With printed side down place mounds of silicone on the back of the piece keeping it well away from the edges.   Align the piece with the image on the base sheet and press down slightly to make sure it is attached.  Adjust the piece into the best position keeping it at least 4mm up from the previous piece.

Piece 3, 4 & 5

1.   Turn the piece printed side up.  Using the thinner end of the tool, not the sharp etching point, shape the darker shadowed areas of the petal.

2.   Turn the piece printed side down and shape in between the indents.

3.   Attach all three pieces in order with silicone, making them sit close to the centre of the flower and up at the edges.  Make sure the silicone is not visible.

Piece 6

1.   Turn the piece printed side down and shape the 3 petals marked with a black dot.

2.   Turn the piece printed side up.  Press gently in the middle of the yellow and pink pansies making the edges sit up slightly.

3.   Attach the piece with silicone making sure that the centre tips of the pink petals sit closely to the layer below with the outer edge of the petals raised.

Piece 7

1.   Turn the piece printed side down and shape the petal.

2.   Turn the piece printed side up and shape, press gently at the tip.

3.   Attach the piece with silicone making sure that the tip touches the layer below with the outer edge of the petal raised.

Piece 8

1.   Turn the piece printed side down and shape the 2 petals marked with a black dot.

2.   Turn the piece printed side up.  Press gently in the centre.

3.   Attach the piece with silicone making sure that the centre sits closely to the layer below with the outer edge of the petals raised.

Piece 9

1.   Turn the piece printed side down and shape the petal.

2.   Turn the piece printed side up and shape, press gently at the tip.

3.   Attach the piece with silicone making sure that the tip touches the layer below with the outer edge of the petal raised.

Piece 10

1.   Turn the piece printed side down and shape the 2 petals marked with a black dot.

2.   Turn the piece printed side up.  Press gently in the centre.

3.   Attach the piece with silicone making sure that the centre sits closely to the layer below with the outer edge of the petals raised.

Piece 11 & 12

1.   Turn the piece printed side down and shape the petal.

2.   Turn the piece printed side up and shape, press gently at the tip.

3.    Attach the piece with silicone making sure that the tip touches the layer below with the outer edge of the petal raised.

As with all our instructions they are a guide so once you get the gist of how paper tole works feel free to take away or add pieces to make it your own creation.

Framing

It is best to find a Framer who is familiar with framing paper tole.
Usually 3 framing mats are used with different colours selected from your paper tole. You may want to experiment with the colours and which order to use them in until you find the best combination that helps promote the sense of depth.
The 1st frame mat is attached directly to the backing board with an aperture to fit the paper tole.  The 2nd frame mat has a larger aperture of approximately 5 to 10mm on each side and is raised up from the 1st frame mat by 10mm.
The 3rd frame mat has a larger aperture than the second frame mat by approximately 5 to 10mm on each side and is also raised up from the 2nd frame mat by 10mm.
The overall size of the 3rd frame mat is up to your discretion for this example we have used a 30 to 40mm width and the overall paper tole with frame mats should fit snugly into the frame rebate just like the glass.

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