As a paper crafter, I’m sure you’ve come across a material called vellum. Hundreds of years ago ‘vellum’ was used to describe a thin, yet durable paper made from calf’s skin, but today this translucent, parchment resembling specialty paper is made from cotton and pulp. Vellum is usually white, but it is available in various other colors, too. Vellum’s unique characteristics have made it a popular material among paper crafters. However, some crafters consider vellum to be a bit tricky material to work with and knowing a few tips and tricks may help in the process. The best way to get familiar with the versatility of vellum is just to start playing and experimenting. Let me share with you a couple of ideas of how I like to use this great material.
Layering vellum on patterned paper
Vellum is translucent so it can be placed over a patterned background without completely hiding the underlying pattern. This characteristic is a great way to calm down a busy background, and if you place other elements on the vellum layer they will not blend into the background pattern.
Transparency of vellum has its pros and cons. The background pattern will show through, but so will most of the adhesives that you need to use for attaching vellum on the background. However, lightweight vellum does not require too much adhesive to stay in place, and the trick is to use glue only on spots that you can cover later with other elements like frames, cut-out images or sentimetns, flowers, sequins, enamel dots, buttons etc. For some projects, a stapler is a good option for fastening, and on other projects, a metal brad will do the trick.
In my card sample, I die-cut a paper frame that I used not only as a fun layout element, but also for hiding the glue marks where the vellum is attached to the background.
Vellum is a great material for heat embossing. Same supplies (VersaMark and Embossing Powders) can be used for vellum and for paper, and the melted powder will stick as it does on paper.
Translucent vellum takes heat embossing to a new level, providing new possibilities to layer stamped elements. This is especially the case with stamped sentiment texts that in some cases are tricky to position on a card. Simply heat emboss the text on a piece of vellum and attach the strip on the card. While the vellum will highlight the raised text, its translucent background will let the underlying pattern to show through too.
Coloring with inks or watercolors
Vellum can be colored with markers, pencils, paints, inks, and watercolors. Vellum does not absorb wet media too well and a watercolor painted vellum surface may start to curl. However, this vellum characteristics can be utilized for creating beautiful vellum flowers where you can use the curling as an advantage:
I started with stamping and heat embossing simple flower images on a piece of vellum.
I colored the flowers with All-Purpose Ink in Cherry Pink, adding with a water brush quite a rich amount of water on the petals. While vellum was still a bit moist, I cut out the flowers and dried the color with a heat gun.
Using the heat gun to dry the wet inks curled up the flower petals, and by layering two stamped flowers I created a beautiful 3-dimensional flower to be used on a card.
If you are not big on heat embossing, Delicata and Brilliance inks will dry on vellum without heat embossing. Remember though that it will take longer to dry on vellum than on standard cardstock.
Vellum has a smooth finish that can easily be dry-embossed. The result looks amazing, as the embossed lines turn from frosty white to bright white. If you’re using embossing folders and a die-cutting machine, make sure that you’re applying as little pressure as possible on the folder. A detailed image and heavy pressure will easily break the vellum. I prefer using a stylus for dry embossing vellum. In this technique, I place the piece of vellum on a surface that is a bit soft, like the Imagine Craft Mat or a mouse pad, and trace the lines with a stylus. It’s important to apply just enough pressure to change the vellum from translucent to white, as a stylus can also tear or punch the vellum if too much pressure is used.
With a stylus, you can write texts, doodle swirls or draw. Instead of free-hand drawing, you can also use a stencil as your guidance. Just place a stencil on the vellum and trace the pattern with a stylus:
I attached the vellum panel on the card with a few stitches on each edge as I did not want to frame it for this layout. Instead of hand-stitching, I could have used a sewing machine for attaching; it works just as well!
I used this dry-embossed vellum background for a simple card project. The dry embossed pattern adds a whimsical element that does not compete with the bold sentiment.
Hope these ideas inspire you to use vellum on your craft projects. I’m sure you will love the versatility of it!
- American Crafts – Vellum
- Stamps: Carabelle Studio – ‘Little girl with ball’, Visible Image – ‘Somewhere In Time’, Honey Bee – ‘Congrats’, Stampin’Up! – ‘Diagonal Stripe’, Jasmine Jones+Studio Calico – ‘Happy Birthday’, Altenew – ‘Freeform Greenery’.
- Other stamps: “Thanks” sentiment, Flowers
- Sizzix – Nesting dies
- Fiskars – Stylus
- Dot stencil
- Water brush
- Card bases
- Embroidery yarn & needle