All About Embossing

Embossing is fun and easy, but it can make one feel a little intimated at first. Hopefully, I can help reveal some of the mystery of this great technique.

First of all, there are two main kinds of embossing in the stamping world--Heat Embossing and Dry Embossing. The difference between the two is this:
  1. With Heat Embossing, you use an Embossing Powder. You sprinkle the powder on to a tacky, slow-drying ink and then apply heat to your image. The powder will melt and form a raised image.

  2. With Dry Embossing, you use a stylus (usually a metal "pen" with a round ball for a tip) and a template (either made of plastic or brass). You use the stylus to slowly push and prod your paper into the groves of the template, gently forcing it to rise and create your image.
I will be dealing with Heat Embossing in this post. Here's how I made this simple Fall card:

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You can view and comment on the card here, at my gallery: Embossed Fall.

I selected these four beautiful colors with the help of my husband. It's always good to have a friend around who can help you see old things in new ways.

I cut each rectangle to be as big as my stamp' block of wood and I inked up the leaf image with VersaMark ink. You need to use an ink that is slow-drying, like VersaMark, a pigment (verses a dye-based) ink or one that is specifically called “Embossing Ink.” These inks will hold on to your powder until you are ready to heat your image.

Next, I sprinkled gold embossing powder on to the inked leaves and shook off the excess on to scratch paper. I do this to catch all my excess powder so that once I’m done, I can use the paper to siphon the powder back into the jar. This saves you a lot of money and makes a little jar of powder go a long way.

Now you are ready to melt your powder. The most effective way to apply heat to your image is with an Embossing Heat Gun. This tool is like a small cylindrical hand-held hair drier, but it is much more powerful and direct. It’s so powerful that you could seriously burn yourself and your paper if you are not careful. Therefore, when I have a small piece of paper to emboss, I like to use a pair of tweezers to hold it so I don’t singe my fingers (I’ve used a clothes pin, too). And remember to hold a Heat Gun three to five inches from the surface of your paper. If it gets too close, you can discolor or even burn a hole in your paper!

Before I owned a Heat Gun, I used to use a light bulb as heat source. This works alright if you are only going to Emboss a few things a year. But if you really like Embossing or you want to tackle a big project (like making wedding programs), I don’t recommend it--and I’m speaking from experience. ;) No other heat sources (such as a flame or a stove top) are recommended. They are both dangerous and ineffective.

So--those are your basics of Heat Embossing: Stamp in sticky ink, apply your powder and heat. But as for what you can do with a technique like this that's beyond the basics, you’ll have wait until next time. ;)

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