How to Tear Paper to Give Textured Edges

Tearing Paper Gives Interesting Textures for Using in Stamping Projects

Torn paper
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Knowing how to tear paper to give interesting textured edges is a useful technique to learn and one that can be used in many stamping projects, including handmade cards. Tearing paper is a quick way to produce great looking results. Stamping an image onto a sheet of paper and tearing this out and applying it to a piece of cardstock gives an interesting layered look. The finished effect belies the simplicity of the technique.

Paper is made from wood fibers that are tightly compacted together. The finer the wood fibers, the smoother and more compact the paper. These tiny fibers are not evident when the paper is cut, however, a soft textured edge is revealed when the paper is torn. This can make an attractive feature and is a great way to add some texture to a project. Many people like the organic natural feel of torn paper and this can complement more contemporary sleek finishes. Torn edges often reveal an inner color to the paper or cardstock, or a simple dab of ink or chalks will emphasize the texture of the edge. Patterned or printed papers are likely to have a different colored core and this can offer plenty of opportunity for innovative design opportunities.

Tearing paper is very straightforward, the technique is simple however there are a few tips that will help to achieve a constant and regular finish.

How to Tear Paper

Take some scrap or scratch paper and make a tear.

The chances are if you are right-handed, your right hand pulled the paper towards you and if you are left handed your left hand did the same. The hand that you are using to pull the paper towards you is your dominant hand and will ‘lead’ the direction of the tear.

Practice tearing the paper, gently pulling it in one direction or another to reveal a different textured edge or to change direction.

Different papers will tear in varying ways, however, the principals stay largely the same. The individual nuances of each piece of paper lend to the individual nature of the technique.


  • Start by leaving yourself with plenty of space around your image, this means that any wobbles or irregularities can be evened up without spoiling the image.
  • Paint a line of water along the piece of paper where it is to be torn. Leave it for a couple of minutes to sink through the paper and then tear along the wet strip. The tear will follow the water soaked paper, making it possible to tear more precise shapes.
  • Hand made papers often have coarse paper fibers giving a more unusual and textured torn edge.