Heat Embossing

Heat embossing provides a slightly dimensional, raised effect and gives an elegant look to just about any paper project. And while you can emboss a stamped image, you can also use embossing techniques to create interesting effects on paper with an Embossing Pen or by simply swiping the paper with your Embossing Ink Pad. But let’s cover the basics first:

What you’ll need:

A stamp. You can use any stamp, although it’s easier to get a clean embossed image using a stamp with bold, clear lines. Avoid embossing with very detailed stamps as the details simply don’t show up as well.

Embossing powder. This comes in all colors and types. Gold and black embossing powders are staples.

Paper. You can emboss on pretty much any kind of paper: Cardstock, patterned paper, glossy paper or specialty paper. The heavier the paper weight, the less likely the paper will curl up when heated. Vellum can be embossed; as with lighter papers, you’ll want to place it between some books to flatten it out after embossing.

A juicy ink pad. You need the embossing powder to stick to the inked image before heating it, so you’ll want an ink pad that dries slowly. Pigment ink works well. You can also use a special Embossing Ink Pad—they come in Clear and Tinted.

If you stamp with a colored ink, your embossed image will still be the color of your embossing powder—not the color of the ink you used. Using different color inks can enhance the color of an embossed image if you emboss with clear embossing powder.

An embossing gun. Although you may hear of stampers heat-embossing with a hot plate, an iron, a toaster or a lightbulb, it’s generally not the best method. A heat gun is a worthwhile investment—they’re not very expensive and will give you much better results with fewer potential heat-induced disasters!

Heat-resistant surface and tools. When embossing on large pieces of paper, set the paper on a cookie sheet; you can also wrap tin foil around a piece of cardboard. Hold small pieces of paper with tongs or tweezers so you don’t burn your hands. Embossing guns can heat up to 600 degrees, so you’ll want to handle with care.

How to heat emboss:

  1. Ink the stamp with your embossing ink pad or pigment ink and stamp on your paper.
  2. Immediately pour embossing powder on the image. Make sure you cover the entire image.
  3. Shake the excess powder onto a piece of scrap paper, tapping the edge of the paper against the table to make sure you’ve removed any stray powder. A small dry paintbrush or cotton swab is perfect for removing stray powder too.
  4. Gently roll the scrap paper into a funnel and pour the embossing powder back into the bottle.
  5. Place the paper on your heat-resistant surface or hold it with tweezers so you don’t burn your fingers. Tip: Warm up your embossing gun for a minute before using it.
  6. Hold the embossing gun about 6” away from the image. Sweep the gun over the image, taking care not to direct it in one area for too long. You’ll see the change—as the embossing powder melts, it will become smooth and dimensional. Be careful not to overheat, otherwise the powder will bubble and the paper could burn.

That’s it! You’re done. Now that you’ve mastered the basics, you can experiment with different papers, effects and techniques. Try white embossing on black or dark blue paper, or gold embossing on up a holiday card.

Ready for some additional techniques? Try these:

  • Use an embossing pen. A pen will give you more control over areas you want to emboss. Try highlighting an image on your patterned paper, then embossing.
  • Irregular embossing. Hold your embossing ink pad at an angle and swipe it randomly along the edges of your paper, then emboss the swiped areas. Try this with gold powder on vintage paper for an old-world look, or choose black powder on pink paper for a funky effect.