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How to Create a Deckle Edge

June 19, 2009

How to Create a Deckle Edge

Since the subject of deckled paper edges came up in Eva’s comment on yesterday’s post, I thought I might cover some of the ways you can create a nice looking deckle edge on your paper.

This deckle edge paper cutter is the one I have. It’s pricey at $119.95 new, but I found mine on eBay for about fifty dollars. (Eva, I think this one might be similar to yours. In fact it is German made.) It is heavy duty and can cut through everything up to 300# watercolor paper (I know because I’ve tried it.)

A variety of cutters are now available and are designed for lighter jobs such as for collage, scrapbooking, and greeting cards. The small scissors with different edges are good, but can be limited by the paper’s thickness. I have actually broken the handles on some of these. (That’s what prompted me to look for a heavy duty cutter.) I like the deckle rulers for occasional use. I have a 12″ one.

If you’d just like to make the occasional irregular edge on your paper, the simple and time-honored way is to do the following, which works well for heavier papers:

Hold a straight edge — a good ruler or yard stick is preferable — along the line where you want to tear your paper, and draw a very faint pencil line as a place marker. Then paint a thin line with a small pointed brush full of water along the pencil line. Wait a few minutes until the water has had a chance to soak in, but not long enough for it to dry completely. This will weaken the paper along that line.

Then hold the straight edge down very firmly along the line with one hand and pull upward on the free side of the paper, holding the paper close to the ruler, moving your hand along the edge of the ruler as you tear. If the paper is thinner than 140#, and depending on the size of the sheet you are tearing, you might be able to just pull on the free side of the paper to make the tear. Practice makes perfect here. Afterward if you see a slight pencil mark, you can erase it. But you probably won’t see it.

The following picture shows a framing treatment that I like. Works on deckle-edged paper can be floated inside a mat to expose the paper’s edges. This is how I like to frame some of my works on paper. (Forgive me if you’ve seen this before. It’s just an example.)

Suspended, Frame and Mat

You can cut your own mats with a small hand-held mat cutter like this one. I actually enjoy cutting mats — go figure! This size cutter will cut mats up to about 24″ (or as long a cut as your arms can reach.)

With my own mat cutter I get to decide the size of the mat opening, because I like a nice generous weighted mat (wider at the bottom.)

Here’s another new painting with the same edges. The bottom and left hand sides of this paper are the natural deckle edges of the paper. The other two were cut. They’re not perfectly straight, but it won’t matter when the painting is framed.

Vigil Sm“Vigil” – Acrylic on Paper, 5 x 7″

9 Comments leave one →
  1. June 19, 2009 8:32 pm

    My small collection of your work is all floated like the piece you have shown and they look fabulous. The framing gallery used a light cream matt instead of white and thin black frame. The wide matt works so well with the deckle edges ACEO pieces. Thanks for the tips.

  2. June 19, 2009 9:41 pm

    I love the deckle edges! I might have to give this a try and thanks for writing a very detailed descrption on how to do it. I love the way you have framed the painting.

  3. June 20, 2009 6:30 pm

    Very cool. I remember you talking about this about a year ago and I’m glad you went back through it in more detail. I actually file away all your suggestion and have certainly used quite a few of them.


  4. June 20, 2009 7:29 pm

    Thanks for the helpful info Martha! I’ll have to try that sometime.

  5. September 6, 2014 1:53 pm

    Reblogged this on Nanette Fabros Creative and commented:
    Paper and Deckle Edges!


  1. A Word About Framing « An Artist's Journal

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