Hi, I'm Torrey. Welcome to Left Field, where creativity runs amok and imagination is ALWAYS more important than knowledge. Shoes are not allowed but ties are optional. This is a repository of snippets from my life out here in Left Field. One never knows what shiny bits of creativity will be found here... cards, scrapbook layouts, photography, poetry, recipes, ponderings, rantings and musings. It could be anything! Life in Left Field is always changing, always real, always ...interesting.

September 7, 2012

A Toling We Will Go!

Howdy folks!

I've received numerous requests for a tutorial on Paper Toling over the past several months. So, because I am SO selfless (*snicker*)...here it is.

For those of you who don't know what Paper Toling is...I say, "Wake up and smell the 1970s!!!" That's when Paper Toling was in its heyday. My grandmother was a Toling FIEND. She made tons of these uber-dimensional little dioramas. There was one on just about every wall of her home...and of ours...and of my aunt's.

Basically, Paper Toling (now referred to simply as 'decoupage') is 3-D decoupage where multiple copies (or pieces) of the same image are adhered one on top of another. This makes a 2-D image look 3-D. In traditional Paper Toling, there are usually 3-7 layers of the image and they are all completely and identically colored. This makes for an extremely dimensional creation (usually about 1- 1 1/2 inches deep).

Though conventional Paper Toling is great for home decor, it isn't really practical for card making. But don't be dismayed...I'm gonna show you how to do modified Paper Toling that lends itself especially well to card making and other paper crafts. Besides...who wants to identically color up to 7 of the same image for one project (see below).
Oy vay...no thank you.

It really is a fun little craft that lends itself SO beautifully to card making. My favorite Paper Tole artist is Mariska van der Veer (click on her name to go to her blog). She humbles me, inspires me, and makes me drool (mostly humbles me, but drooling comes in a close second). Her Tole work is AMAZING. Mine...not so much...but I'm getting better.

Here is the card I made for the tutorial using the Paper Tole technique. I used the lovely "Rose's Portrait" stamp from Bombshell. Following are complete instructions on how to do this technique. Mariska would have used about 4x as many layers as I did. What can I say? It's not that I'm a lazy crafter, it's just that my eyes and fingers don't function like they did when I was 20...know what I mean?

Closeup shot:

So here we go...
Paper Toling Made Easy (er)
1. Several copies of ONE stamped image on cardstock (I usually work with 5 to be safe).
2. Coloring medium of choice (plus a dark grey marker or pencil)
3. Detail scissors
4. Black marker (or grey or brown if you choose)
5. Hot glue
6. mouse pad (the rubbery kind)
7. Large rounded stylus--marble size (I used the handle of a piercing tool I have)

How To:

1. Choose your image. 
Just about ANY image will do.

2. Stamp your image--multiple times on cardstock.
Make certain you leave enough margin around one of the images (your base layer) if you decide to die-cut it out.

3. Decide how many layers you're gonna have.
The way I do it is to first look at my stamped image and determine which parts I want to be "lifted" off the others. Some images are easier to visualize than others...but the more you practice, the easier it gets to "see" the layers. For this tutorial, I chose "Rose's Portrait" stamp. She's perfect for "toling".  She has distinct sections of hair and accents that make it relatively easy to figure out how many layers you're gonna make. I decided on 5 layers for this project. I could have easily increased that to 7 or 8...but I stopped at 5. You can choose as many or as few layers as you wish.

4. Color the layer sections.
You may be able to use more than one section of a single image to build your layers (refer to the lower right image below). Ideally, the parts you are using should not touch/overlap. Below is an example of what parts of which image I made into layers and how I colored them.
  • Start with the bottom-most base layer--Layer 1 (lower left image). I know this looks weird, but trust me. I colored only the parts of the image that will show on that layer--a few bits of hair, her neck and her earring. The remainder of the image I colored in grey (so it doesn't show as much when you assemble it). You do the "grey" thing on ALL areas that will be underneath an overlaying layer. The grey areas help give a shadowed foundation to the subsequent layers. Theoretically...you only have to color a small margin by the edges of larger undesired areas with grey (because the middle won't show), but I colored the whole thing. You can color the grey areas with either a grey colored pencil OR a grey marker. Whatever you have. The base layer has the most grey area. All other layers only need a small amount of grey area around the adjacent margin as a foundation for the next layer (middle bottom image).
  • Layer 2..the face (middle bottom image). Notice how I colored just the face and added a small border of grey around it? The face will be silhouette-cut out along its right side and under the chin.
  • Layer 3...the front hair and shoulder (top left image). I colored just the 2 pieces of hair that I decided are on this layer. I also colored her shoulder. Both of these pieces will be silhouette-cut out (along with the grey area).
  • Layer 4...more hair (top right image). I colored the remaining sections of hair with small amounts of the shoulder and rose greyed in. Please note my mistake on this layer. The uppermost colored part of the hair has grey on the upper right corner...it shouldn't. I should have only colored that leaf that overlaps the hair in with grey...because that little section I am referring to will be cut away. Oops.
  • Layer 5...Rose and shawl (bottom right image). The final, top layer of this image is the flower adornment and the shawl. Both of which will be COMPLETELY silhouette-cut out.

 NOTE: Layers that go on TOP of other layers will be silhouette-cut out. Layers that are BEHIND other layers will have shaded areas where the overlaying layer will be.

5. Cut out the pieces. I'm talking fussy-cut here, people. You want to cut EXACTLY on the outside of the image line...no white margin left at ALL (but make sure you don't cut the black line away either).

Here is what all the pieces look like when they're cut out.

6. Coloring the edges:
This is a vital step in making it look finished. Take a black marker (or grey or brown) and color ALL cut edges of your pieces. Work with your pen facing the back side--so in case your pen slips, it will mark the back of your work not the front.
7. Contouring the pieces:
In this modified version of Paper Toling, I'm gonna teach you to contour your pieces...this adds a curve to them which does two things: 1) helps maintain space between layers and  2) helps hide the "unseen" parts of the underneath layer.

To contour your piece you are basically giving it a cupped shape. To do this, take one of your cut-out pieces, place it face-down on a mousepad and rub it GENTLY in circular motions with a LARGE (marble-size) stylus until the edges start to curl up a bit. I use the handle of a paper-piercing tool I have. You can use a large stylus, a marble, the rounded end of a paintbrush...ANYTHING as long as it's about the size of a marble and round and smooth.

8. Assembling the pieces:
You need to use a dimensional glue to maintain a little space between your layers. I use hot glue because it's FAST and EASY with no harmful fumes. You can also use a silicon glue like E-6000 or even silicon caulking. Yeah, I've done that--use caulking (it's a WHOLE lot cheaper than buying silicon glue). Silicon glues are also MESSY and take a lot of time to dry. Hot glue...not so much. If you choose to use a silicon-based adhesive, make sure you are in a well-ventilated area. Fumes. Bad.

Put a small "blop" of glue on the grey area of the surface, directly UNDER wherever your next layer will be. I use ONE blop of glue per layer, unless it's a really large piece...then I use a couple or three. Period. Make sure your glue blop is really a BLOP and not a SMEAR. It needs to be dimensional.  Make certain your glue blop is in the CENTER of the section...not by the edge (see image below).

GENTLY lay the next layer over your glue blop and tweak it into position. 
Press down JUST ENOUGH for the glue to touch the back of the top-most layer.

You only have to let it cool for like a minute (if you're using hot glue) before applying the next layer. It will be cooled and set then. But, if you're using silicon glue, you can continue building layers...GENTLY, CAREFULLY, until it's all assembled. Then set it aside overnight to dry. 
Whichever method of glue you choose...remember: Don't mash down your layers...you'll lose the dimensionality. That's a bad thing.
When you're finished...this is what your image will look like! Isn't it magical?

I'd like to enter this card in the following challenges:
Rose's Portrait stamp - Bombshell Stamps
Nestability dies - Spellbinders (label 10, deckled oval)
Lattice edge punch - EK Success for Martha Stewart
pearl accents - Prima
patterned paper
Prismacolor Colored Pencils
hot glue


  1. It's gorgeous, but I'll have to wait until tomorrow morning to read the tutorial!

  2. Very beautiful card with lovely colors. Love what you´ve done with the image and it´s beautifully colored too.

    Thank you so much for sharing your creativity with us this fortnight at Simply Create Too.
    Best of luck and we'd love to have you visit again!

    Simply Create Too Design Team Member

  3. Stunning creation, love your image. Thanks for joining us at Stampalot.

  4. Your card is just gorgeous Torry and a really great take on our inspirational photo.

    Thank you so much for sharing your pretty card with us at Stampalot challenge this month.

    B x

  5. This is so pretty - what gorgeous papers
    Thanks for joining us at OBAG this fortnight
    Lisa x

  6. Todella kaunis kortti sinulla tähän haasteeseen! Kiitos osallistumisesta Emerald faeries challenge - use a doiley -haasteeseen tällä viikolla ja onnea arvontaan! Kaikkea hyvää elämääsi sinne ! An

  7. Wonderful card, Torry: Love her eyes! Glad you could join in our Challenge #21 - "So Old/Vintage.`

    Simply Create Too Design Team Member

  8. Beautiful take on our inspiration challenge thanks for joining us at Sir Stampalot this month and good luck


  9. Thanks for joining Sir Stampalot’s and Oldie but A goodie challenges with this great entry, good luck.
    Happy crafting
    Tracy x

  10. I love your tutorial and you are right Mariska is amazing. So glad I saw this on the bombshell blog. Do you post what colors of prisma colors you use? I love the way you colored Rose.
    marilyn2222 @ hotmail.com

  11. Marilyn2222...I tried to email you, but hotmail said that is an invalid email address. If you email me your correct address, I'll be happy to answer you! You'll find my email address on my About Me page.


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