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How to Emboss

Embossing is mentioned often on craft websites and in crafty forums, and if you're not sure what it involves, it can be a bit frustrating. If you've a rough idea what it is but haven't a clue how to do it, or even if you've no idea what embossing is, read on - this guide is for you!

What is embossing?

Embossing is a way of creating raised images or wording on a card. These raised areas can be plain or finished with colour, glitter, or other embellishments. An embossed card is simply one that features a raised element in the design.

There are 3 main ways to emboss: dry embossing, heat embossing and embossing paste. Each way uses different materials and gives you different results. Let's take a look at each method.

Embossing methods

Dry embossing

What you need:

Dry embossing uses an embossing stencil and a tool called a stylus for creating a raised design. Some people also like to use a light box underneath their card, so they can better see where they are marking.

How to do it:

To begin, take your chosen stencil and flip it over so the image is reversed, and fasten it to the light box with masking tape. If you aren't using a light box, fasten the stencil to your work surface instead (make sure you are in a well-lit area so you're able to see the stencil through the card). Place the card, reverse side up, on top of the stencil, and fix the corners to the light box (or your desk) with masking tape.

Why work in reverse? The reason you work on the back of the card, and reverse your stencil, is so you can create an indented, back-to-front design - which becomes raised and the right way round when you flip it over.

Now it's time to mark out your design. The stylus has a tiny ball tip which lets you create a nice deep indent without tearing through the card. Holding it like a pen, go right round the inside of your stencil, pressing firmly as you go. When you're done, turn the card over the right way and you should have a perfect raised outline.

Using a stylus to mark out the design. The picture on the bottom shows our embossed design after we've turned it over and coloured it in. We positioned the stencil over the raised design and applied ink with a finger dauber.

For an even easier way to dry emboss, you can use the Cuttlebug Machine with embossing folders. This will achieve a similar effect, but all you need to do is arrange your chosen folder and card in the Cuttlebug, then turn the handle to pass it through the machine. Your card will come out perfectly embossed.

Heat embossing

What you need:

Heat embossing requires a few more materials, but creates a stunning result. It involves sprinkling embossing powder onto sticky ink, then heating it until it melts. You will need some embossing powder, a heat gun, and either a rubber stamp with an ink pad, or an embossing pen.

How to do it:

If using an embossing pen, draw a design straight onto your card. If using a stamp, stamp your design using either a slow drying sticky ink like Brilliance, or a special embossing ink pad. Embossing ink pads contain clear or tinted ink to create a subtle outline that won't show through the embossing powder.

Handy Hint - Because both inks and embossing powders are available in clear and coloured varieties, you can use different combinations to achieve different results - clear ink with coloured powder, coloured ink with clear powder, or coloured ink with coloured powder. You probably won't want to use clear ink with clear powder for obvious reasons!

Before the ink dries, sprinkle embossing powder generously over the image, shaking off any excess and returning it to the jar. If there is still some stray powder where you don't need it, a dry paintbrush is perfect for brushing it away.

Next, holding your heat gun about 6 inches away, go over the image until the embossing powder starts to melt. As it melts it will go smooth and shiny. Move along the image, keeping an eye on the card as you go to make sure you don't scorch it. Once you have melted all the powder, leave the image to cool for a few seconds before touching it.

You can now embellish the image if you choose. Otherwise, your design is complete.

Two examples of Christmas cards we have made using heat embossing. Silver embossing powder on navy blue card in the first, and white powder on purple paper in the second.

Embossing paste

What you need:

This is one of the most satisfying methods to use, because it is just like icing a cake. It also creates a sharper edge than both heat embossing and dry embossing. To use this method, you'll need a palette knife, embossing stencil and your chosen colour of embossing paste.

How to do it:

Working on a hard, flat surface, position the stencil on your card and fasten it with masking tape. Scoop some paste onto the tip of your palette knife and apply it nice and thickly inside the stencil, smoothing as you go.

Very Important - You'll need to work pretty quickly because embossing paste dries completely in about 20-40 minutes.

When you have filled the stencil, scrape of any excess paste until the surface is smooth. Immediately untape the stencil and carefully remove it from the card, making sure you don't disturb the paste. It's important to clean any paste off the stencil before it dries - if you can't do this immediately, put it to soak in warm water until you can.

Applying embossing paste with a palette knife, and the embossed rose image after it has dried.

While the paste is still wet, you can score patterns with a cocktail stick, sprinkle on glitter, or press small embellishments like tiny beads into it if you choose. Leave the paste to dry for between 20 and 40 minutes, and then your design should be ready. Never try to speed up the drying process with a heat gun, as this can make the surface bubble and crack - unless of course that is the look you want to achieve! Check it is dry by pushing a cocktail stick or similar gently into the paste.

When it has dried, you can colour the design with chalks, paints or pens if you choose. In the example below, we have coloured the rose with chalks:

Your turn...

Now you know the basics of embossing, you can see it's really not difficult, and gives you great results. It's always good to add another string to your card making bow, so now it's over to you - give embossing a try!

EMBOSSING POWDERS

EMBOSSING POWDERS

Our entire range of embossing powders, including glittered, metallic, opaque and transparent powders. Each will create a unique finish when heated.
Stencils & Masks

Stencils & Masks

Use stencils and masks to alter or add textured elements to craft projects using a variety of mediums like ink pads, ink sprays, embossing pastes, embossing powders, paints and so much more.