Paper Tole is a wonderful and relaxing paper craft which is also commonly referred to as Papier Tole and 3D Decoupage. If you're new to this fabulous craft or thinking about starting this as a hobby, you will need to find out what tools, equipment and supplies you need. Learn what supplies are necessary so that you can properly get started or advance further on this wonderful paper based craft.
As a crafter who has really enjoyed this particular craft over many years, and who also has a lot of experience with it, I can advise you on exactly what you will need. Let me guide you with good recommendations on what you should buy. One of the most frequent questions I get from crafters is always regarding the type of adhesive that they should use, so I will be covering that first.
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Papier Paper Tole Supplies and Tools for Beginners: All the Essentials You Need
All About Adhesives for Paper Tole
I said adhesives because there is more than one type that you can use for this craft, depending on your level of experience and on what you're more comfortable with using. I'll take you through the pros and cons of what adhesives you can use.
This paper craft requires that you build height and depth with your layered paper designs. There are two main options for how you can achieve that. One option is to use 3D foam pads or 3D glue dots and the other is to use a clear silicone adhesive or glue. For most beginners, I would really recommend the former option of foam pads but you may want to read up about both types and see what is best for you.
You can see the layers of paper I built up to make a three dimensional rose flower design
Using 3D Foam Squares or Glue Dots
Foam squares or pads, or even the 3D glue dots, are quick and easy for people to use with this craft and therefore are ideal for beginners. I prefer foam squares which come in pre-cut sizes attached to a backing sheet. However, some people swear by the dimensional glue dots instead. Either of these are less messy to work with than silicone adhesive. The square pads are really a no-mess option and are also quick to use.
With the pre-cut squares, it is definitely good to keep a range of sizes in stock. Larger ones are great for sticking down initial layers with the paper tole since these tend to be the biggest areas of the design. And smaller pads are perfect for the tiny pieces of paper at the top. If you're just starting out and you don't want to spend too much money on a new craft, my tip is to just buy the larger sticky pads or a roll of 3d foam tape which you can then cut down to the sizes you need.
Showing how you can stick foam pads to the back of paper layers
With the pre-cut squares, rectangles or dots, you might find it fiddly to remove the backing paper sticking to each piece. And for people who suffer with arthritis and other hand issues, you may want to consider using silicone adhesive instead. With practice, removing backing papers is a lot easier with a couple of techniques. I use my curved end craft tweezers to press down into the center of each sticky pad, a long fingernail also works. This helps the edges of the backing paper to lift up so you can remove it.
One sticky square is very rarely enough to use unless you have a teeny, tiny section of cut paper to stick down. Normally you'll need several foam squares stuck to the back of your paper design. You don't need these to cover all the paper but you do need to ensure that the middle of the design and the edges are going to be supported properly once stuck down.
Another tip I have with using these foam squares is not to place them right up against the edge of the cut paper. The reason why is because they will then be more visible from the side on your finished paper tole design. You want to move them a little away from the edges instead. This will give you a much neater finish on your handmade card or paper craft project. Alternatively, you could try clear foam tape instead.
Learn Even More About Using 3D Foam Squares
Using a Silicone Based Craft Adhesive
I would not normally recommend that beginners use a silicone craft adhesive. However, it may prove easier for crafters who have specific hand issues such as arthritis. In cases of reduced hand dexterity, the tube of glue may be easier to manipulate than picking up and placing tiny and sticky foam pads. It is certainly worth testing out as an alternative if the foam squares will not work as an option.
Dimensional silicone adhesive comes in a tube. It is a very thick glue rather than runny and wet and often has a strong odor. In many cases, it is recommended to use it with adequate ventilation near an open window or even outdoors which is better.
It can be more difficult for a beginner to use this adhesive but it tends to be favored by actual Papier Tole artists because it can give the best results for finished pieces of work. For the majority of projects, the simple 3D foam pads, squares or glue dots are really just fine. They do a good job of providing that layering for your handmade cards and pictures.
Crafters wanting to progress with this art form should look into using the silicone adhesive because it offers much more flexible results and can lead to more professional looking finished pieces.
Example of my handmade butterfly card where silicone glue was used
Silicone glue is perfect for adding height behind butterfly wings on paper crafts to add more of a sense of realism. This adhesive should normally only be used in a well ventilated area or even outside so it’s great to use outdoors on a warm and dry day. Often the adhesive tubes have a wide opening so I don't recommend squeezing the adhesive directly from the tube onto the back of your paper.
Sometimes they come with fine nozzle attachments which can be better. However, the best method I have found is to squeeze out a little of this glue from the tube and then swipe the end of a toothpick or cocktail stick directly over the exposed adhesive. It is easier to use this little stick to apply and position the adhesive exactly where you want it to be on your project.
Silicone is slow drying, so unlike the sticky pads, you get a chance to adjust this adhesive until you've got exactly the right height and position with it. Because it is a thick glue, you can apply all your paper tole layers and then leave your entire project to dry overnight. Some people prefer to let each layer dry but I don't think that is necessary at all and I've never needed to do that.
Where silicone has the main advantage is that, as you become more experienced and proficient at using it, you can manipulate it to give you different heights between layers of paper and even to help shape layers and designs to give you much more natural looks which work especially well with realistic floral prints and living creatures. You need to practice with this medium to get the best out of it.
Scissors and Craft Knives for Cutting Paper Tole Designs
Note: If you use pre-cut 3D decoupage design prints or die cuts then this section is a little redundant.
I prefer to cut out my own designs so this is for people who love paper cutting like me. Really the best recommendation here is to first use what you're more comfortable with. If you use a craft knife already and you are good with that then carry on. If you're not sure then I'd advise using scissors as your tool of choice. A craft knife can take more time to learn to use well.
With scissors, it can be very handy to have a range of sizes. You might want to use a medium sized pair to cut around bigger designs on the paper and then use a very small and sharp pair to cut around the smallest layers with more precision.
A variety of scissors and even craft knives may be needed
It is definitely possible to use scissors to cut even the most intricate designs out. By using a range of sizes, you can cut the most detailed parts and even cut into internal sections of paper as well. I've been using scissors extensively for so many years and there isn't much that I couldn't cut with them. It is really worth paying to buy some very good quality scissors and to keep them nice by sharpening the blades from time to time as well as cleaning them. Precision makes perfect with this craft.
I always prefer to use scissors instead of a craft knife because I'm much more skilled with them. However, cutting out internal areas using a blade can be a useful technique. Use a craft mat underneath the paper when cutting with a knife to prevent your work surface from getting scratched up. It's a method that I employ occasionally.
One tip I can give is that if the blade seems to tear the paper instead of cutting cleanly, it can mean either that you're dragging it too fast through the design, so use a slow and steady stroke to slice through cleanly, or that your blade is blunt and should be replaced.
Pre-Printed 3D Decoupage Sheets and Die Cuts
You can try out this craft very simply and easily just by printing off 3 exact same copies of a photograph that you like from your computer so that you can test the process out for yourself. Floral photos with petals that are well defined and easy to cut around are good candidates. You can also find free sheets and printables online that you can use as well. There are ready made Papier Tole sheets and die cuts that you can buy too.
Light House 3D Decoupage Paper Tole KitFlowers Paper Tole 3D Kit 8x10Window Floral Paper Tole 3D Kit 8x10America Beautiful Paper Tole 3D Craft KitI can definitely understand how many beginners like to use numbered and step by step prints which are easy to work with since you cut out the first numbered piece and work from that to the last, layering from the largest to smallest pieces as you go.
As you get experienced, you know instinctively where to cut designs and it is easy to work with multiple copies of your own photos or designs instead. Have lots of fun and enjoy this wonderful craft.
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Beginner Guide to the Craft of Paper Tole
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How to Use 3D Foam Squares for Your Paper Crafts
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