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The first time I saw heat embossing, I was at a craft fair, years ago, in southern Missouri. A woman was demonstrating it at her booth. I felt like I was watching magic as the powder melted and created a beautiful raised image. I was mesmerized and walked away with several pots of embossing powder. (Her demonstration was successful!)
Heat embossing is one of those craft techniques that has that wow factor for sure. You can heat emboss a rubber stamped image, or you can heat emboss your hand lettering.
These days, most of my heat embossing is for lettering, but I’ve done my fair share of embossing stamped images as well. It’s an easy way to add dimension and texture to your projects.
Here’s a baby photo book I made years ago. The rubber-stamped image style looks kind of dated, but it’s still one of my favorite projects.
The stamped image was embossed with a silver detail embossing powder. The effect really doesn’t come through on photos very well, but the outline of the image is raised. (I made quite a few of these little books as gifts!)
Want to try heat embossing?
Here’s what you’ll need:
Embossing powder There are many choices of these. I love the ones with a little glitter in them. Have fun choosing! The “detail” powders work well for very intricate rubber stamp images. I tend to use black or gold the most.
Rubber stamp (Obviously, not necessary if you are embossing your hand lettering)
Ink pad (for stamping) or embossing pen (for lettering.) There are embossing pads made specifically for this, but I find that a pigment ink pad or Versamark pad work better for me. (Dye ink pads will not work well, because the ink needs to be slow drying.) For lettering, Ranger and Zig make good embossing pens. A black embossing pen works well for lettering, so that you can see where you’re writing, but I have used a clear one, too (although it’s not easy!)
Embossing Heat tool These are sold in craft stores, specifically for this purpose. Years ago, before I had a heat tool, I would hold my card over a toaster to heat the powder! (I didn’t make toast in that toaster anymore, though, in case the powder had fallen in. Not healthy to eat embossing powder!) Believe me, a heat tool is easier.
Here’s how to heat emboss:
- Place the card or card stock on top of a piece of scrap paper (I just use printer paper for scrap paper), and stamp your image onto the card stock. (Or hand letter your words with your embossing pen. Emboss one word at a time, so that the ink doesn’t dry.) Immediately sprinkle the embossing powder over the image, covering the inked area well. Then, dump the excess powder onto the scrap paper, and pour it back into the jar. You might need to thump the back of the card a little to remove excess powder. I also use a tiny paintbrush to brush away little specks.
- Using your heat tool, immediately heat the powder. (It helps to let the heat tool warm up for just a few seconds, before directing it at the powder.) I prefer to heat the image from below, so the powder doesn’t blow around as much, but you can also heat from above. Keep the tool a few inches away from the card stock, and stop heating each area as soon as you see the image begin to raise. If you heat too long, the image becomes flat.
Voila! You’ll have a gorgeous raised image or lettering.
- They sell little sachets that you rub across the card stock before you start, that help with excess powder sticking. I usually skip this step and just brush off the excess powder. If you plan to do a lot of embossing, though, I hear they work well. (I’ve also heard that a used fabric softener sheet works for this also, but I have no idea how well that works! Don’t use a new fabric softener sheet, though, as it can make the powder specks stick more.)
- If you cut out an embossed image, be sure not to cut into the embossed line.
- Coloring in an embossed image is so much easier! The raised lines help you to color within the lines! (Not that coloring within lines is always a priority! But for stamped images, it’s often the goal!)
- A blow-dryer will NOT work as a heat tool! (I may or may not know this from experience…)