Thursday, August 15, 2013

Embossing Basics

Have you ever seen a really cool stamped image that seems 3d and has a bit of height off the page or card? Chances are you spotted an embossed image. When I first started cardmaking, embossing seemed like a glamorous and complex ordeal and I didn’t think someone with my limited artistic skills would ever be able to do something that complex. Boy, was I wrong. Once you know the basics, embossing is pretty darn simple and it becomes a staple of your projects.

When it comes to stamping and scrapbooking, there are two main types of embossing that are used to create unique layouts, cards and stamps. These are known as heat embossing and dry embossing.

What is Dry Embossing?

Dry embossing is when a 3d image is pressed into a sheet of cardstock or paper leaving one side raised out, and the other side smooshed in. The smooshed in side is debossed and the pushed out side is embossed. This is accomplished easiest with a die cutting machine like a Cuttlebug or BigShot. You buy embossing folders with various designs and then run them through the machine to achieve the desired effects.  There are some limitations to dry embossing in this manner. First, you will be limited in the size of the area that can be embossed. Typically the folders are card sized, so the biggest single area you can emboss at one time will be card-sized. Due to the design of many of the folders it is very difficult to line up the designs to make an embossed image that is continuous and bigger than the size of the folder. If this isn’t a big enough limitation, you are also limited by the size of the die-cutting machines. The paper that is being embossed needs to be small enough to fit through the mouth of the machine.

What is Heat Embossing?

The other highly common type of embossing is heat embossing. Typically this is done by stamping an image, covering the wet image with embossing powder, and then heating it until the powder melts and creates the raised image. With this method, you can emboss the same page many times without worrying too much about size limitations. For this method, you will need a stamp, a pigment based ink, embossing powder and a heating tool. For the heating tool, you will need a real heating tool and not just a hairdryer. Hairdryers just don’t seem to get hot enough to melt the embossing powder evenly.


These are the two most basic types of embossing used with scrapbooking, cardmaking and stamping. Check my other posts for step by step tutorials on how to master each of these methods!

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