Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Art of Decorative Paper Pricking

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I picked up this book The Art of Decorative Paper Pricking on Amazon. I was lucky enough to find it for a penny!

The author, Janet Wilson, has lived & breathed paper crafts since early childhood, when she was first given a pair of scissors and some paper to keep her occupied. And the above book is the result of her long-standing love of paper pricking.

I can't wait to get started on this craft!
But, before I start I'd like to share some information I learned about this age-old craft.

This craft of decorative paper pricking was originally called pin pricking.

In the 18th century, Regency ladies added delicate decorative effects to painted costumes figures in pattern books, embellishing their designs icon with pin pricked details and folds.

Letters and messages would even be pin -pricked and sent to friends & relatives. Marie Antoinette (1775-1793) even sent a message to Comte de Rougeville during her imprisonment.

The hey day of this decorative art appears to have been around 1840-1860. A notation attached to a pin pricked portrait of Queen Victoria, date 1840, states, "Pin prick work was an extremely popular female pastime in the early part of the 19th century. A considerable amount of skill and planning was needed in its execution."

If you have an interest in this craft it is suggested that embroidery pattern books icon  often have decorative initials and monograms that can be used.

Below is a picture of how the technique is done.

Photo Credit: http://www.cutoutandkeep.net/ 

Tools & Materials needed for Paper Pricking

The basic tools and materials required for paper pricking are as basic as paper, a needle and a pricking mat. Other listed item will be useful additions and will allow you to create a variety of designs.


  • Tracing paper -This is a translucent paper that will allow you to trace your pattern from your source.
  • Use a good quality paper, you may want to experiment with several type to see what best suits you. Janet Wilson states that soft papers do not hold a pricked shape very well.
  • Colored embossing paper iconor card is ideal for backgrounds. Make sure you choose a color that compliments your design.
  • Foil papers can be used, and are available in an array of colors.


  • Paper will dull your needle quickly, so make sure that you have a ready supply. Janet W. says sharp pointed needles iconare best. She only uses one size needle, a No. 5 sharp, and changes the hold size by varying the depth of each pierce.

Needle Vice

  • These are available from lace making suppliers. The needle vice consist of a small handle that has a screw clamp at one end designed to accept the eye of a needle. As an alternative, you can stick a needle into a cork.

Pricking Mat

  • A pricking mat icon should be at least 1/2 inch (15mm) thick. High-density-foam mats are best, but a thick felt will also work.
  • Alternatives include: A piece of polystyrene or two computer mouse pad/mats stacked together.


  • Cuticle scissors are ideal.

Pencil & Ruler

  • These are used to mark measurements on paper.


  • Make sure to use a low-tack adhesive tape iconto fix patterns to paper; other type of tape may mark your paper. Janet said that she found packs of filing flags at a stationery supplier icon which can be reused. These are short lengths of tape that have a very low-tack adhesive at one end only.
  • Double-sided tape can be used to mount designs on to background paper.

Fancy Scissors

  • Most good craft shops carry a nice selection of scissors that create decorative edges.

Embossing Tools

  • A wide variety of small brass embossing templates iconare available in most craft stores. These can be used to embellish embossed motifs within enclosed areas of pricking.
  • A typical embossing tool. icon


  • This is where you can get creative. You can add any decoration - stickers, scraps, scrapbook supplies, pressed flowers, stenciling, cross-stitching, embroidery on paper, cut-outs pictures from old seed catalogs iconor last years calendar, or any other craft of your choice.
 Here is a greeting card I found on-line that has been paper-pricked
Photo Credit: http://gemscottage.com/ 

Create More, Spend Less



  1. What a delightful and economical technique! I can imagine all sorts of things in my house that would look better surrounded by pricked paper designs. Thank you for sharing it with my Link Party. Hope to see you there next Tuesday, too!

  2. Interesting, lost arts from long ago. Thanks for sharing.

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