Paper Piercing

Use paper piercing to add decorative effects to your craft projects

Paper Piercing
Getty Images: Lucy Lambriex

Add additional detail to your cards and scrapbook pages with paper piercing. This is the technique of piercing small holes into paper and cardstock and shouldn't be confused with paper piecing, which entails layering images together.

Paper piercing is a simple yet effective technique that is a great addition to many handmade card and scrapbooking projects. The technique of paper piercing involves, as the name suggests, piercing paper with a sharp pointed tool. Special paper piercing tools, including sharp pointing tools and templates such as the ones shown above from Martha Stewart Crafts, can be purchased or you can make your own. The small holes are formed in shapes and patterns. These can vary from a simple line of holes that have been pierced along the edge of a greeting card through to intricate shapes that are an integral part of a bigger design.

Any paper or cardstock can be used for paper piercing projects. This makes paper piercing an extremely versatile technique and one that complements many stamping projects. The finished surface is flat one side and slightly raised on the other. This can be varied depending on the project.

How Is Paper Piercing Used?

Paper piercing can be used in a variety of ways. These include:

  • Left Plain – one of the simplest ways of using paper piercing is to leave the pierced design plain. The tiny holes can lighten a project and this is suited to where a solid shape might spoil the overall look.
  • Stitching – stitching and paper piercing is a powerful combination and uses two of the hottest papercraft techniques around. The pierced holes are used as a template for stitching and a wide variety of different stitched effects can be achieved.
  • Highlight – highlight the pierced holes with marker pens or other coloring tools. This will help to emphasize the design. Interesting effects can be achieved by rubbing chalks over the raised surface of the holes.
  • Attach Buttons or Brads – the small holes that are created by paper piercing are perfect for adding buttons or brads to projects. Pierce one or two holes to add a feature highlight to a card or a line of holes to add a row of buttons or brads.

Paper Piercing Equipment

All that is required for successful paper piercing is a paper piercer and a protective surface for piercing on. A paper piercer is basically a small tool with a sharp point. They can take many forms and range from basic tools that look like a pencil with a needle attached to the end through to piercers that look like it would be at home in a dentist's surgery! If you don't have a piercing tool and want to have a go at paper piercing, then an embroidery needle works fine – although it is more fiddly to use than a proper tool. Very effective handmade paper piercing tools can be made by embedding a sewing needle into polymer clay.

A protective work surface is required to stop the tip of the piercing tool making holes in a table or worktop. An old mouse mat, a piece of foam, pile of newspapers or a variety of other materials are all perfect for piercing on.

Paper Piercing Technique

Paper piercing can be done freehand or using a template. There is no 'right or wrong' with regards to paper piercing. Some people prefer the flexibility of freehand piercing, whereas others prefer to use templates.

  • Freehand Piercing - to make a freehand paper piercing on a piece of paper simply use the piercing tool to make holes in a paper as required. Straight lines and simple shapes are ideal for freehand piercing, as are random shapes. This works well when a more 'homespun' look is required and where regular piercing patterns may look commercially produced.
  • Templates - there are many types of template available that are suitable for paper piercing projects. In addition to specially designed templates that have marks for each hole, other shapes can be used to create pierced designs. A rubber stamped image, for instance, could be used as a piercing template. Templates are good for formal designs or when you want a repeatable image.
  • Other - it is also possible to buy paper piercing rulers. These have small grooves along one edge and these are ideal for making pierced lines in paper.

More Information About Rubber Stamping and Stitching

Paper piercing is often used as a base for stitching on paper projects. Here is some more information about rubber stamping: