How to: Parchment Craft Cards

April 25th, 2009 by Solange

With spring come weddings and this year, I am going to…, I am not going to get married, I am going to try a new craft for my greeting cards. The other day, I saw this ever so romantic looking card, it looked like paper-lace on translucent embossed paper. When I enquired to how this ever so lovely effect has been achieved, I was told that it was “parchment craft”.

With a bit of research I found that traditionally parchment craft designs were all white on translucent paper and mostly used for religious celebrations such as communions. Nowadays, white monochrome has been joined by multicolored parchment papers, inks have followed suit, and parchment craft is use for all occasions.

Despite the fact that parchment craft has been used for centuries to enhance greeting card designs it remain a “niche” craft as it was re-introduced in Europe only recently.
Historians trace this ancient craft to the Catholic communities in Europe during the 14th century. For centuries to follow, South American people were introduced to this craft by missionaries. In the 19th century, the French, eternal romantic, used the technique to embosse cherubs and garlands of flowers for their “billets doux”.

Then, it disappeared from Europe without ever reaching the US, what follows is a fascinating modern success story:
In 1986, a Columbian woman, Martha Ospina, introduced it back to Holland.  Since then, she has written a number of books on the subject and open her company the Pergamano craft which sells materials, trainings etc…. Pergamano is compound word: Pergamum and Mano. Pergamano became so popular that people refer to parchment craft as Pergamano craft.
By the way, Pergamum is the name of a Turkish town where parchment  was  developed. Today Pergamano craft has spread throughout the 5 continents.

• Patience, this is a real game of precision and patience but the outcome is just gorgeous.
• Parchment paper which is a very strong paper
• Base mat
• Embossing tool
• Pricking tool
• Mapping tool
• Scissors or craft knife
• Design
• Ink
• Card with aperture

1. Tracing and embossing are the basic techniques.
2. Choose your design and place parchment paper over it, secure with tape
3. Using the mapping pen and white ink, trace around the design onto the parchment
4. When dry turn over, lay on base mate and with the embossing tool rub over the design,
5. Turn over again, this time with the needle tool prick holes in the part of the design that look like small dots.
6. Trim the parchment design and tape behind the aperture.

The result is a beautiful, intricate pattern.

Going Green With ECards

April 1st, 2009 by Solange

The US market is the largest for greeting cards: there were about 9 billion greeting card units sold in 2007. The amazing phenomenon is that despite the rise of the electronic greeting cards the traditional card market is still going strong. So how green is the greeting card market?

The answer is not very; first there is the sheer bulk of the industry, by 2009 worldwide sales of Christmas/New Year Cards are projected to exceed 7.68 billion units. Then if  you look carefully many of the large companies are not yet using 100% recycled paper for their product. Last but not least there is the environmental impact of the transport, some companies are now thinking to relocate their production line to Europe or the US from China under the consumer’s pressure of the and the raising price of production. Moverover a card is not just a card it is also the package, cellophane is definitely not green at all. Research is being done by smaller companies which will use packages made from soya.

Because the environment counts and without going over board there are a few things we can do, to be greener when using the snail post:

Step 1: Before buying choose recycle and tree-free greeting card; but be aware, the labelling can be confusing. “Recycled” may  mean that a mix of trees and recycled paper has been used. The minimum you want is “recycled paper” that ensure that cards are made from waste which otherwise would have ended up in the landfill these cards  will still have a small percentage of paper rolls.
A better choice is to pick cards that are tree- free, they are made from mix of seed species that will grow in all regions of the US when planted. When a business pays that level of attention to the paper it will also have looked into the ink using vegetable-based ink.

Step 2 : make sure that we re-use our greeting cards, after a big holiday or a big family celebration, I take time to separate my cards into 2 categories. The first will go direct to the recycling bin, the second I will reuse by cutting and pasting the whole card of part of them so that old becomes new.

However the greenest way to send your sentiment is definitely e cards.

Say It With Ecards – Part 2

March 6th, 2009 by Solange

Say it with cards- part 2-


If our cards sending habits have been modified  by the advances of the internet, the messages and the occasions have evolved too, they have moved on with the times.


Major holidays and traditional messages:

As might be expected Christmas remains the most popular car-sending holiday in the Anglo-Saxon world; though it is New year’s greetings which figure at the top of the list in the rest of Europe. Sales of  Valentine’s Day cards take proud second place  and account for 25% of seasonal card sales. Most people send a least 2 Birthay cards a year.


“Everyday non-occasion cards”

But our habits are changing, in the past 5 years we have seen appearing a new genre of cards:

“the everyday non-occasion cards” which are proving to fill up a need as they are fast becoming very popular.

But what on earth is a “non-occasion card”? Cards such as friendship, encouragement, thinking of you  which answer the need of a caring generation,  people who wish to reach-out to their friends and family. Individuals who want to make a positive difference in the lives of others. People whose priorities are centred around others and not so much focused on work or on obligations.


Holidays we celebrate with a greeting card

New year’s

Valentine’s Day



Mother’s Day

Father’s Day

Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur






But that is without taking into account the fact that we have a lot to celebrate and that we love celebrating…….about anything and almost everything.


Announcement cards and their replies

Among this array of cards there is another category: announcement cards and their replies. We love to send our best wishes to acknowledge a happy event, such as a new home, a new job and among these special events, one of the most special of them a card for a new Baby:

Say It With Ecards – Part 1

February 27th, 2009 by Solange

In the US more than 7 billions greeting cards are bought each year. In the UK, we spend over £1bn per year on cards, sending an average of 55 cards each.  We would be forgiven for thinking that the industry has reached its peak but no, the sector is expanding. Moreover the greeting cards industry is morphing beyond recognition.


The last “revolution” was in the early 80′s when a Chicago-based greeting card company (RPG: Recycled Paper Greeting) transformed the sector. How did they do it?

They used a novel material for their card: recycled paper and they accredited their artists on the back of the cards. It was an immediate success, many companies followed suit and it sent the industry flying “rocket high”.


But that was the 80′s and, given that the industry is composed of very creative people across the board, it was not going to stop there. In fact the industry embraced the digital revolution with all its might, stepping happily in the 21st century. Behind us are the days when an e-cards was frowned upon. E-cards have now found their individual use and a new etiquette is in place.


So what is new?

In the past few years Photo Greeting cards have increased in popularity. On one hand, you can buy card-frames in which you slide your own photo, the same process exist digitally. On the other hand, there is a new process which is “changing the face of cards”. 

Let me explain : at Christmas, I received  for the first time, a new generation of card.   A photo of an artwork (which was itself a painting from a photograph)  printed at very high resolution directly onto the face of the card. Stunning results, imagine you own personal photographic message as if it was a top of the range card.


Also new and very popular are  the Musical Greeting Cards. I am a great fan. I love to receive them, I love to send them, I think they are great fun. As often the simplest ideas are the best: you open your card and there it throws at you a few  happy notes. With e-cards, of course, you can personalize your choice of music, even better!.


So there we are : new ways of celebrating, acknowledging but what are our messages? To know the answer, read my next post where I will be exploring  the content of the greeting cards.

Greeting Cards On A Budget

October 29th, 2008 by Solange

Sending stylish personalised greeting cards does not have to cost the earth using free internet cards. Making greeting cards is not an expensive hobby, but sending cards for all occasions quickly mounts up, soon you will be looking for tips to keep the cost down.


Personally I love beautiful cards, it is great to be able to use embellishments or little gems but they cost therefore I am always on the look out for bargains  I research and compare their price, bid or buy on line.


Cheaper alternatives don’t have to look tatty, with a little imagination you can create great looking cards worthy of their  expensive counterparts.

Here are some tips to keep the cost down:


l  if you are a students, part of a club, or taking your kids to school, ask to put a notice up. The card making community is extremely large, you will meet card-makers this way, then you can get together to swap material or buy material with a bulk discount.

l  Soon you will have collected quiet a lot of material, making it easy to forget what material you already have, moreover some of the bits are often extremely small and tend to “disappear”. Make sure that you keep track of your collection. Tidy is the word that comes to mind.

l  I buy my base-cards on sheets rather than pre-cuts one, the card is easy to cut offering you more flexibility, you can have different shapes too as well as various sizes and it is less expensive

l  I am always on the look out for freebies scattered across the internet and free downloads.

l  Giving is receiving:  the more you send cards the more you will receive, which will allow you to recycle the design, using decoupage technique.

l  Some techniques use surprising recycled material: aluminium shapes made out of cans: cut a can open and use the aluminium inside. Recycle CD cases instead of envelops : glue your design inside the box.

l  Cards which are not overly “busy” often have a stronger impact, few carefully chosen materials goes a long way

l  Recycle whenever you can, my friends always laugh when after a party I rummage through ribbons and wrapping papers. With a little mischief my booty will be included in their next card.


If you want to have fun as well as cutting the cost, making paper is great fun however it is much more involved and you will possibly will have to spend some time teaching yourself before you can get a nice sheet.

A Life With Greeting Cards

September 29th, 2008 by Solange


My name is Solange, I started making cards at the age of 4. Though I had to wait a little longer, 3 decades to be precise, to become a freelance greeting-cards designer. In the mid-nineties, I started my own company : “dito”, it was a thrill to see my cards on sale in the shops. I love fresh ideas, fashion trends and I can’t wait to include them in my greeting cards. More over, I love when people ask me: “Where did you find such a great card?” I can answer: “I made it”.

Despite the fact that there is a card for every occasion, I could never find that “very special one”. I used to spend “hours” browsing in the shops, so really it all started out of need.

When I decided that I would be a card designer, I was studying to become a computer artist, except that in these days and I am not referring to the middle ages, computer graphics was in its infancy. While everybody else in the course was busying themselves with 3D graphics and special effects, I would design that special card, no pastels nor teddy bears for me, more a combination of autumn colours and fractals to express my creativity. The market place took an interest and they sold as novelties.

With time, though I still love using e-cards, my creations are my own blend of traditional methods such as origami or decoupage and computer generated images. Often, the 3D effect is achieved by fixing embellishments with layers of foam pads rather than computer generated. I am known for doing things the wrong way round, so from a commercial proposition it is now a hobby; if I trust a top consumer craft magazine, I am in good company because greeting card making is the number one craft hobby.

Let’s face it, everybody experiences a warm feeling of anticipation when, in the post or the email box, there is something which does not look like junk or a bill. It is so nice to know that somebody thinks you are truly special and took the time to send you a card; it is even nicer to know that it has been done just with you in mind.

If we judge it by the booming greeting card market, I am not the only one to think so. The Greeting Card Association reports than more than 7 billions greeting cards are bought each year in the US, that is 30 individual cards a year per household; In the UK, on average 55 cards will be bought per person per year.

It does not matter how good you think you are, my advice is to give it a go: personalize an e-card or make one yourself and I guarantee that you will not be spend “hours” ever again looking for the perfect greeting card.

Handmade Card

One of Solange's Handmade Cards