The 4 Year Love Story in Under a Metre




Introduction: The 4 Year Love Story in Under a Metre

About: The student who is studying Psychology and Marketing by day, and who tinkers with ideas by night.

Hello, this is my first Instructable so bare with me if I've done it wrong, but I think I did alright.

I wanted to show this off somewhere and what better a place than the wedding competition, right? My mother recently got married (July 30th, 2011) for the second time to a man from the other side of the world, the USA, who she had been in a long distance relationship with for the past 4 years (we're from down under - Australia, which means measurements will be in metric. For the Americans and others using the imperial system, right click here, and click open in new... ).

For her wedding, I made a old fashioned looking, romantic scroll with a modern twist that tells the story of how they met, and also acted as the order of service for the wedding day. The scrolls were a huge success with guests giving me compliments and comments such as I should go into business making wedding stationary, that they look great/beautiful/special/lovely and my favourite, "they're so different (as in unique), and we LOVE different. It's great because most wedding stuff we've seen all looks the same."

Alright, enough with the ego stroking. Let's get on to how to make them.

**WARNING** I like to write. Enjoy.

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Step 1: Materials

We'll start with a list of what you need:

The Printed Design

 * Adobe Illustrator (and maybe Photshop) or other vector creation software.

At a pinch you could use some VERY clever Microsoft Word/Publisher techniques - however, unless you know your exact scroll size from the start, using vector image software is a huge advantage when it comes time to print.

* Computer (one that's powerful enough to run the vector software)
* A bit of a creative streak (maybe your teenage niece or nephew knows something about designing if you don't)

The "Parchment"

* Large sheets of 160 - 200gsm paper.

Unless you have an A3+ printer or your design is very small, you'll probably end up using the paper the printing house uses (I printed at Office Works here in Australia) which means you're likely stuck with white paper. However, if you've got the choice, use a light parchment like colour. I'll get into more detail about what size paper when I discuss printing.

* Shellac (see varnishing instruction for quantity)
* Methylated Spirit (as above)
* A warm room

The Scroll Ends and Decoration

* Two different coloured ribbons.

I used a thicker (17mm wide) white ribbon under a thinner (10mm wide) green ribbon that closely matched the green on the bridesmaids dress. You'll need enough to wrap around each individual scroll, which ended up being about 100mm (Go 120mm just to safe) of each ribbon, per scroll for me.

* Red oven bake clay for the seals.

Ask for it at your local craft store. I brought it in 57g (2oz according to the packaging) quantities for about AU$6 which I found made about 20-25 20mm seals.

* 16mm dowel (if you make the same size scrolls I made, you'll need about 240mm of 16mm dowel per scroll)
* Sandpaper
* A 20mm wax seal coin (see the instructions for more details)
* PVC wood glue
* Thin (less than the width of your thinnest ribbon) double sided tape
* Patience and dedication


* Mitre saw (preferably electric circular drop style, but I only had a hand operated one)
* Large paint brush (for painting varnish on paper)
* Baking paper
* Jar to mix varnish in (if you are making a lot, you'll need a very large jar)
* Newspaper
* Oven
* Scissors

Step 2: Design It!

This is one of the most time consuming, creative draining parts of this Instructable (the other part is putting it all together). It took me about 48+ hours all up (spread out over a month) to get it finished, but you'll have to trust me - the end result is very worth it. First thing's first, open up your chosen vector creation software and create and set up (set up sizes, colours (choose the "for print" setting if it's there) etc.) a new document.

When I printed my scrolls, they ended up being 10cm wide, so feel free to use that measurement as a guide if you want. This was mainly because the printing house used rolls of paper that were just over 1m wide, so it made sense to use as much paper as possible and get 10 across the paper for each print.

I would have ideally like to have made the scrolls 11-12cm wide so that some of the print was a bit bigger but it still worked out well as it was. Feel free to use whatever size you want though, just remember you might want to change it later to get better value at the print house.

That's where vectors come in handy, as you can design it using the right ratios and then change it to the exact size later and have everything scale perfectly. As I already said though, you don't need to use vectors, you could do it perfectly well in Microsoft Word or Publisher, but you would need to do some careful planning before hand (such as find a print house first). Use text boxes if you use Microsoft Word to move text to unusual locations, and you can change the document to a custom size by clicking "size" on the page layout tab in the 2007/10 Office collection.

The next part is to design! Don't be afraid to change the size of everything, or place things in strange places, or add a splash of colour (see the picture of the completed design above) or even to start again (time permitting) if you need to.

The really important part though is to have fun designing! If you have fun, the guests will see that you did through your work and they'll enjoy reading it more. Other than that, I can't tell you exactly what to design, as it's not my wedding and I don't know your story! Get creative, get interesting. Tell the story. And don't worry, this scroll looks great no matter what length it is, short or long! (Though, over a metre and you might scare your guests)

If you are stuck for ideas, just use Google image search. Also, I'd suggest using a colour that's not black as black is too harsh. The colour I used was a dark bluish grey (RGB: #534B4F or CMYK: 52% 52% 45% 47%). But play around, makes it much more ancient looking, however it costs more to print in colour. Don't forget the space to glue the dowel to, see the picture for more information.

Step 3: Prepare the Varnish

The shellac and methylated spirit varnish needs to be prepared about 48 hours before you need to use it so that all the shellac can dissolve, otherwise you'll end up with bits of shellac on your scrolls which isn't very pretty. Because it needs 48 hours before it's ready, now is a good time to prepare it. Also make sure you prepare a lot, more than you think you'll need, or make sure you are making it well before the event/time you need the scrolls so that if you run out, you have time to make more.

There's a pretty good chance you'll run out.

Now the instructions I used to make the parchment material called for a specific brand of shellac, Blonde de Waxed Shellac, which apparently makes it the right colour. Unfortunately my local Bunnings didn't seem to stock it and I was in a rush. So I ended up buying Feast Watson, Mastertouch Shellac (Premium Grade), which ended up giving a pinkish hue on the printed side (Which very well could have been from the ink though because the other side was a lovely parchment colour). If you can get the Blonde de Waxed though, I'd suggest try it first, see what happens and comment below.


Mix four parts methylated spirits to one part shellac in a jar (I approximated the measurements when I made it myself). To do this, I filled the bottom of the container up, just under a quarter of the way with shellac and then filled up the rest with methylated spirits. After that, over the next 48 hours, shake it every once in a while. That's it. It's prepared. Nice and simple.

The varnish gives it the colouring and also gives it a nice parchment like texture.

Step 4: Print and Rip

Time to print. If you haven't already, you need to find somewhere to print it. When you do, ask them what paper they have and pick the most appropriate. You need a thick (160-200gsm) stock paper, with a matt finish (like regular printing paper you use at home). If you can, talk to them and ask them how wide the printing area on their paper rolls is so you can make the scrolls the most efficient size (ie. use the most paper when printing leaving minimal waste).

Make sure you print some test ones at home first (just let it print on several A4 pages) and proof it. Triple check it; there is nothing worse than printing a run of anything then finding a mistake. While you're testing it at home, it might also be worth painting the test print with the varnish from the previous step to test the colour.

Also, you might get a discount if you arrange it for your selected printing house so that its already laid out in one file. For example, I gave them a pdf file with 10 10cm wide prints side by side. Then they just printed that 3 times to give me 30 prints. All up, it cost around AU$30 for colour prints, but I was told that it was a very unusual price and I should expect a higher cost if I get something printed in colour at that size again.

It is very important you get it printed in sheets (see the picture), and that they don't pre-cut it for you.

Once you get them printed and home, it's time to tear them up. Yes, you read right, tear! We tear it to give it a parchment and aged look and feel. Cutting it just looks too clean.

I found the best way to tear them was to tear off the top excess paper (you can cut the tops if you want as they will be hidden) first (that's the horizontal part), and then tearing down the vertical edges, separating each scroll. To tear, place a thin (1-3mm thick) plastic or metal ruler (not wooden) where you want to tear, and then gently tear the paper up while holding the ruler down firmly.

** I included the final design and how I laid it out in a pdf file below. It has been saved with editing capabilities (ie. you can open it in illustrator)

Step 5: Convert to Parchment

This step is easy, all you have to do is paint the varnish onto the printed paper and let it dry.

Okay, okay... I'll elaborate.

Spread the newspaper out on the table. Put the stack of scroll papers next to you. Now, for each one, paint the back of the paper with the varnish, then turn it over, and lightly paint the front (try not to smudge the ink). Then let dry for a minute, and paint the back again lightly (to deepen the colour). Then lay out flat, face up on newspaper and leave to dry in a warm room.

This creates a pretty smooth finish. If you want something with a bit of a rougher, textured finish, then once it has dried, paint each side of the scrolls again with varnish by dabbing the brush over the paper.

Step 6: Seals and Scroll Ends

While you're waiting for the parchments to dry and be ready to glue it all together, it's a good time to make the rubber "wax" seals and cut up the dowel pieces. To make the fake wax seals, open the package of the oven bake clay and then roll it into balls about double the size of a pea. Put each ball of clay on the baking paper and push down with your thumb to form a thick round disc. The discs don't need to be perfectly round, in fact the more irregular they are, the more authentic they look. The diameter of the thick wax needs to be a bit bigger than the seal you a using.

Next push the seal/coin into the clay, and then peel the coin off the clay gently. Bake in the oven according to the directions on the packaging. Just remember though, because these are quite small, they might need less time than the clay packaging specifies.

You can just make actual wax seals if you want (it's still a good idea to make them on baking paper so you can peel them off - less breakage/failure), but it turns out the clay seals still look very realistic, and are no where near as prone to breaking. Also, if you stuff up, you can just roll the clay back up and try again. Once you have the wax seals (however you make them) you can apply double sided sticky tape to the back side of the seal ready to be applied to the scroll.

Now for the scroll endings. For these, all I did was cut up dowel pieces and sand the edges. Well I lie. Mum's fiance cut the dowel up, and my partner sanded the ends while I made the seals (the clay is really stiff you know! Takes a long time to roll up). That's really all you need to do and they still look extremely effective. The dowel was cut into 120mm long pieces for use on a 100mm wide scroll.

If you want to get a little bit more fancy though, or more authentic looking, and budget is permitting, you can add a stopper of some sort (such as a cubed wooden bead or something similar that you can find) on each end of all the dowel pieces.

Step 7: Glue, Glue and More Glue!

Alright, so we have the scroll ends, and we have the dried parchment and we have some glue. Let's do it people! First thing you need to do is put the glue you're going to use in a container and let it stand for an hour or two (depending on temperature). This is so that it becomes sticky and easily "clings" onto both surfaces (the wood and paper) and holds it together well.

After you've let the glue dry out a little and become sticky, you need to glue the endings to the paper. It might be a good idea to get someone to help you. Here's how I did it. Firstly, I rolled up the paper tightly, from the bottom up so that the first thing you see is the top of the scroll when you start to open it. This made it easier for the paper to roll around the dowel and stick.

Next I unrolled it and got my partner to hold the bottom of the scroll while I glued the top part. This was because it tried to roll back; you could probably just put something on it to hold it down though. To glue it, I spread some glue in the middle, at the top of the scroll, but I didn't take it right to the edge as I didn't want glue seeping out the edge.

After that, I rolled the paper with glue on it around a dowel end and held it there until it stuck. Each end took about 1-2mins until it had a good grip on the paper and dowel. Then I did the other end (the dowel holds the paper down now) the same way, and placed it in a warm room on paper to dry. Once finished, you should have a pile of dried parchments attached to the dowel endings.

Step 8: All Together Now

Now once you have a dry scroll to work with, roll it up and wrap some ribbon around so you can get the size you need to cut. The ribbon should overlap about 1cm or 2. Now cut enough of the two ribbons to roll up all the scrolls.

Alright, all the prep work is finally done! Yay. It feels awesome doesn't it? Now we just have to put it all together... Wooo....

No relax, come back! You've come this far, you can do it.

First thing we need to do is roll up each scroll (finish each scroll individually at this point rather than just rolling them all up right now) and secure it in place using the first ribbon. To do this, place some double sided sticky tape in the middle of the first ribbon and at the top of the first ribbon, and peel of the " protective skins" as I'm going to call it. Now roll up the scroll, and stick the back of the scroll down onto the tape (keep it in the middle). See the picture above for more of an idea.

Now being careful to not let it unfurl, push the back side of the scroll onto the middle bit of tape, and fold the ribbon onto itself, pushing down firmly. Just to be safe, you might want to put a small piece of regular clear tape over the join to secure it better. Now, it should be secure. Use the same technique to apply the second ribbon (don't use clear tape again though) and then apply the wax seal.

Step 9: Conclusion

And there you have it. Something unique, romantic and very special. I made 30 of these, and unless you have a lot of patience and time, I wouldn't recommend doing too many more because they are pretty time consuming and can be mind numbing/frustrating to make (I don't like doing repetitive things). At most I'd do 60 or so. But that is heaps because you only need one for each couple, so plenty for maybe 100 guests.

Now, credit where credits due. This is a combination of a few tutorials/ideas around the internet that I combined together and found inspiration from. But that's pretty much what inventing and creating is all about these days right? Here are the links:

The parchment material

Layout idea (I can't find a source for this, but this is the image I got the layout structure from)

A thank you to the lady at "Collins Craft" in Balcatta, Western Australia who helped me with find an alternative to using wax for the seals (because they were out of wax), which turned out better than wax anyway.

And of course a thank you to my partner and my mum's fiance for helping me make them.

Originally, I was making this as the invitation, but the wedding itself was organized relatively last minute (2 months before the wedding) and the invites needed to go out before the design was done. We decided though that we still wanted to tell people the story and that we'd use the scrolls because of the effort already put in, which worked out pretty well in the end. The point, though, is that you can really use these for anything, wedding invites, at the wedding or even something completely non wedding related.

I hope you have fun making these yourself and I hope you enjoyed my Instructable. Thanks for reading and please don't forget to vote for me!

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    2 Discussions


    8 years ago on Step 3

    When i was on elementary school, we used to make drawings and made it look old by using ecoline (i'm Dutch and i don't know if it's called the same in English). This technique meant you would paint the whole thing with black and/or yellow ecoline (with this technique it has to be rather firm paper), and then wash it off with water and dry it. I wonder if this might work as well, because i find this a rather hard thing to do as it's hard to find shellac in stores in Holland. I think i never actually saw it anywhere... But would it be possible?


    Reply 8 years ago on Step 3

    Hmm.. I don't know what ecoline is really, so I can't get a definitive answer sorry. From the description you gave though, it might work - my main concern would be that when you wash it, the ink might come off as well.

    The best advice I can give, is to try it on a spare bit of paper. Just print on the paper before hand to test it.