Embossing powders can be used to raise a stamped image or to cover an entire die cut image.
Embossing with powders, also referred to as heat embossing and wet embossing, involves stamping your design with a slow drying ink and then covering the area with a special powder. When heated, this will give your stamped image a raised surface. A heat gun is best to heat your powder, and heat guns are fairly inexpensive tools these days. A hair dryer is NOT suitable as it doesn’t give enough heat and has too much blow. An anti-static pouch will ensure your surface will only attract powder to the stamped image. After sprinkling the powder over your stamped image, give the sheet of paper a good tap on the top of your page to remove excess powder. If you find you still have one or two grains of powder on your image remove these with a fine brush (being careful not to touch your stamped image) before heating.
These are the main categories of embossing powder.
- Clear – good for using with coloured pigment inks or for Resist stamping
- Opaque – Opaque powders give excellent coverage even on dark coloured card
- Tinted – You will get a different colour depending on the base colour of the ink you use.
- Tinsel – Can be clear or tinted and contains glitter so your image will really sparkle. Great for Christmas, not so great for finely detailed images.
- Variegated – Contains a mixture of powders to give a multi-tonal effect
- UTEE - Ultra Thick Embossing Enamel. This is a large grain, clear powder, not suitable for embossing finely detailed stamped images but excellent for covering large surfaces such as die cut images and will give a spectacular glossy finish to your image. Because it's clear, you may want to use it in conjunction with coloured embossing powders. You will find it can react differently with different inks and different embossing powders.
- Bonding Powder – This is a special powder which when heated forms a gooey substance rather than a raised image. You can use it to attach gold leaf to your stamped images. Confession here – I have had some in my stash for years but haven’t actually got around to using it YET, so I can’t offer any more insight than the manufacturer’s instructions
Caring for Your Embossing Powders
Be careful to catch excess powder when applying it to your stamped image so you can use it next time. I sprinkle my embossing powder over a sheet of scrap paper folded in half. Folding the sheet of paper in half makes a pouring channel so I can get the contents back into the bottle easily with minimum wastage. Be careful not to mix your embossing powders - if you're working with multiple colours, use multiple sheets of paper. If you use particular embossing powders frequently, you might like to consider storing them in a small Tupperware container. This will save you a bit of time.
Tips for Embossing Die cut Images
Embossing powders and the application of heat can make your image warp. I generally layer at least 3 die cut images together to make the image stable. I use double sided tape on the back of my card stock before die cutting to make this easier. There are a few brands which manufacture wide tape for this purpose. I found Easy Connect Craft Tape from Craft Emotions at a craft fair a few years ago and it's excellent for this purpose. Having a layer of double sided tape on the base of your image means you can peel it off when the process is complete and you have a nice clean and most importantly flat base to attach to your project.
When embossing die cut images, I like to place my image on a non-stick craft mat and use a pair of craft tweezers to anchor it. You can't hold it, it will get too hot. I normally start the process by pressing my image into a versa mark stamp pad but you could also use a pigment ink pad. After "wetting" the image with versa mark or pigment ink, sprinkle the powder onto it. You're going to need to do this at least twice before you get enough molten powder onto the image. Once there's a good coating of molten powder, it's only necessary to add more powder (embossing or UTEE) to the molten image, you won't need to "wet" the image again (unless you want try adding a different colour ink pad).