Monday, June 14, 2010

A Drink from the Well: Embossing

This tutorial brought to you by Theresa B of Egret Effects

What You’ll Need:
Paper; scraps are fine
“Happy Birthday” stamp
Watermark stamp pad (this is basically a clear-ink pad)
Copper embossing powder (or color of your choice)
Heat tool
Cutting board (to place the hot heat tool on)
Window cleaner and cloth rag (to clean your stamp)

Step 1: Set yourself up
Place the paper on which you’re embossing over a larger scrap of paper. Open your embossing powder and stamp pad. Have your heat tool and stamp at the ready.

Step 2: Stamp and powder
Apply the watermark ink to your stamp and stamp your paper. By moving the paper to reflect the light, you should be able to see your stamp and confirm that it’s a good one – all parts of the stamp made an impression and there are no extra marks.

Watermark ink doesn’t dry as fast as other inks, so while you don’t need to rush, you should sprinkle the embossing powder on as soon as you’ve verified the quality of the stamp. You don’t need much; just a light covering.

Step 3: Swirl, tap, and tidy
The embossing powder will stick to anything wet on your paper. Swirl it around gently so that it touches every area of your stamp; you’ll be able to see the message emerging. Once you’re sure the stamp is covered, tap the remaining loose powder onto the larger scrap paper. The powder on your stamp is secure enough to withstand a small breeze, but can still be smeared. Being careful not to touch the stamped area, set your powdered message aside and fold the paper with the loose powder in half so you can dump it back into the powder jar.

Before going any further, close your embossing powder jar. Heat tools not only get hot, they blow that hot air onto your project, and it would be pretty maddening if colored powder flew all over your desk/room/carpet – you get the idea. You might as well also eliminate loose papers hanging around. Speaking of which, if the paper you’re embossing on is small (say, smaller than 4x6) it might very well blow away, too. Use a needle-nosed pliers or other such instrument to secure the paper and keep your digits from burning.

Step 4: Heat and cool
If you don’t have a heat tool and don’t want to buy one, a hair dryer or toaster can substitute. Whatever you use, it’s a good idea to consider your first embossed stamp as a test. It’s common to see some paper warpage. Of course, if you heat the paper for too long it can get singed and discolored. We are dealing with a flammable product, so be careful!

That said, embossing is not hard. Just hold your heat tool about two or three inches up and directly over (or under, if using a toaster) the powdered stamp, moving back and forth slightly for about five to ten seconds. Embossing powder is basically tiny beads of plastic that, under the heat, melt together and grip the paper fibers. You’ll be able to see it happen right before your eyes! It only takes a few moments for the paper and newly-melted powder to cool; don’t touch it while still hot or you can smear the embossing (plus, no one wants melted plastic on their skin). Once cool, however, you have a durable, lovely embellishment to add texture to whatever special project you can come up with!

The finished product for this embellishment:

Embossing powder comes in all kinds of colors. Metalics are especially versatile; they show up nicely on most papers and can be paired with just about any color scheme.

For another look, use a colored ink pad with sparkly or “holographic” embossing powder, like this:

For a finished product of:

Happy embossing!


Sara said...

I've always been fascinated by embossing. It's so much fun to watch it happen right before your eyes. Great tutorial!

prayer bedes said...

This is very neat! =) I am going to share the link on Facebook.