DIY: Heat Embossing

Heat embossing tutorial

A few weeks ago, I discovered a pretty cool technique for creating cards: heat embossing.  It’s almost the same as using normal stamps and ink, but it creates a beautiful embossing effect that adds a three dimensional look.  And, although the example shown in this post is a Thank You card, you can use the same technique for creating decorative items for your home or office as well.

What You Need

You need the following tools and materials to follow the steps in this tutorial:

  • Card stock;
  • Embossing ink;
  • Embossing powder;
  • One or more stamps (I like clear stamps, but you can use other types as well);
  • A sheet of regular paper (printing or something similar);
  • A heat gun;
  • A heat resistant surface;
  • A brush (optional).

Step 1: Choose Stamp(s)

This is the easiest step of them all, or the hardest of you tend to have a hard time making decisions!  Pick one or more stamps you like.  Paper crafting and stamping are pretty popular at the time I am writing this, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to find stamps.  You’ll most likely be able to find them at your local craft store, but you can also find a lot of nice stamps online.  There are several different types of stamps, but it doesn’t really matted which type you choose.

I like to work with clear stamps, because they make it a bit easier to position the stamp on the paper.  The image below shows a set of clear stamps still attached to a plastic sheet:

Clear stamps attached to a plastic sheet

You carefully peel the stamps off the plastic, and then place them on an acrylic block.  You can then use them like you would any other type of stamp.  When you’re finished using them, make sure to clean them before reattaching them to the plastic sheet for storage.  Warning: be careful with stamp cleaning fluids, especially if you’re using clear stamps!  Cleaning fluids can be pretty aggressive and can actually destroy your stamps.  Always read the label to make sure they can be used with your stamps.

A clear stamp on an acrylic block

Step 2: Ink Your Stamp

You need the embossing powder to stick to the ink before you start heating it, so you have to use a type of ink that dries slowly.  I like to use special embossing ink, which is actually clear.  No matter what color you use, your final image will be the color of the embossing powder, not the color of the ink you use.  You can sometimes enhance the color of the powder a bit by using colored ink, though.  Make sure you end up with enough ink on the paper to make the powder stick, so it’s best to press the ink pad against the stamp multiple times.

Ink your stamp

Step 3: Stamp Your Image

Stamp your image immediately after inking the pad.  Remember, you need the ink to still be wet and sticky for the next step, or the embossing powder won’t stick.  Also, make sure you already have the embossing powder within reach, so you can start pouring it on the ink before it dries.

Step 4: Pour Embossing Powder On Ink

Put your card on a regular sheet of paper.  I will explain why in the next step.  Start pouring your embossing powder immediately after stamping.  Make sure to use more than enough powder to cover the entire image.  No need to worry about wasting powder, I promise!

Pour embossing powder on your image

Step 5: Remove Excess Powder

Carefully shake the excess powder on the regular piece of paper.  It also helps to tap your card against the surface of your table to remove even more powder.  You might still notice very small amounts of stray powder.  I like to use a small brush to get it all off the paper.  Make sure to do this before you start using the heat gun.  After you have removed the excess powder, you can roll your regular piece of paper into a funnel and pour the powder back into the container.  If you do it this way, you will not waste anything.

Step 6: Heat Powder

This is where the magic happens: you will now start heating the powder.  But first, make sure to place your card on a heat resistant surface.  It’s called a heat gun for a reason: it gets really, really hot.  You don’t want to burn anything.  Most guns need about a minute to heat up.

In case you’ve never seen a heat gun before, most of them look like this:

A heat gun used for heat embossingAnd in case you were wondering if you can use a regular blow dryer instead of a heat gun: bad idea.  Unless you want to keep finding embossing powder all over your house for days!

Hold the gun about 6 inches away from the paper, and then start sweeping it over the image.  You can see the change as the powder melts.  Make sure not to keep the gun in the same position too long, or you may overheat and even burn the powder and paper.

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Done!

That’s it, you’re done!  I hope you like the result  You may want to experiment a bit with different types of paper and different colors of embossing powder.

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