The Basics of Heat Embossing

Updated on October 29, 2018
linfcor profile image

Professional scrapbook artist, paper crafter, and author, I have taught people how to make family memories into legacies for 20 years.

Heat Embossing: Add Dimension to Paper

Who doesn't love adding dimension to their scrapbook pages, art journals, and paper crafts? Heat embossing adds layers of dimension to your projects in just a few minutes. It's easy and fun, with a rainbow of colors to choose from. I think there's magic in the little embossing powders, and I always get a thrill when I watch the powder melt into something truly special.

Heat embossing allows you to add raised elements to a stamped image! The basic steps you need to do entail the following:

  1. Use an embossing ink (or an ink thick enough for embossing) to create a stamped image.
  2. Add the embossing powder over the image and cover up all of the ink.
  3. Heat the powder with a heat gun. The powder will melt into a stunning image.

You can do letters, images, and embellishments with this technique. Almost any stamp will work, so get your creative juices flowing!

Embossing Tips-What To Know Before You Get Started

Here are a few tips that you should think about before you get started with heat embossing. They will help you have a more successful experience.

  1. Use flat paper rather than porous paper. The less tooth( the amount of hills and valleys on the paper) the better.
  2. Wipe the surface with a dryer sheet or embossing powder bag before you start. That will keep any excess embossing powder away from the area that you are trying to emboss
  3. Use a dusting cloth or a soft paint brush to draw any excess powder away
  4. Use slow drying inks so that your embossing powder will adhere more evenly
  5. To keep your work area clean, empty your embossing powder into a large container. You can then hold your paper over the container while adding the powder to it. After you have added the powder, just tap the excess off.

Supplies that you need for heat embossing
Supplies that you need for heat embossing

What You'll Need

  • Stamp: It can be either rubber or acrylic.
  • Embossing Ink Pad/Embossing-Friendly Ink
  • Embossing Powder
  • Cardstock Paper
  • Scrap Cardstock
  • Heat Gun
  • Dryer Sheet: Paper can contain static. To prevent embossing powder from clinging to an area where you don't want it, run a dryer sheet over the paper before you start stamping.
  • Craft Tweezers (optional): Hold the image when using the heat gun to keep your fingers from getting warm
  • Small Paintbrushes (optional): Brush away stray powder away from the image.
  • Embossing Pens and Markers (optional): These work the same way an embossing pad does. The smaller tips help you control the ink flow for small and detailed images.

1. Stamp Your Image

The first thing that you need to do is to stamp your image. You can use any stamp that you want, but make sure to keep these tips in mind:

  • Coat the stamp with plenty of ink.
  • When you stamp the image, be careful not to rock the stamp back and forth.
  • Lift it straight up off the paper.

Once you have stamped the image, make sure not to touch it. The ink is still wet for quite a while and you will smudge the image.

Add the embossing powder on top of the stamped image
Add the embossing powder on top of the stamped image

2. Add Embossing Powder

Adding the embossing powder is where the magic begins. Place a large piece of card stock under the stamped image. Cover the entire area of the stamped image with embossing powder. Once you are finished, fold the card stock to funnel the powder back into the container for future use.

  • Add the powder as soon as you stamp the image so you get complete coverage.
  • Tap the paper to remove any excess powder from the image
  • Depending on the size of the image, you really need just a bit of the embossing powder. Many embossing powders come in shakers that make it easy to get the right amount out. If you don't have a shaker on your container, you can remove some powder with a plastic spoon.
  • Coffee filters are the perfect thing to place under your project while you are sprinkling the embossing powder. They catch all the leftovers and make it easy to put your powder back in the jars.
  • Make sure to gently brush away any powder that is not part of the image. You can use a small, clean paintbrush to do this.

3. Heat the Image With the Heat Gun

Heat the stamped image with the heat gun until it's completely melted.

  • It's important not to keep the heat source too close to the paper. Otherwise, the powder may bubble and the paper may change color. Hold the paper with a pair of long tweezers, keeping away from you. Keep the heat gun about 6 " away from the paper.
  • Make sure to also heat the paper from below and on top for the best coverage.
  • Try heating the embossing powder from the back of the paper to ensure that the paper does not get discolored or burn
  • Always allow your heat gun to warm up before you start embossing. 30-45 seconds of warm up will help you get a nice even embossing.
  • Never use a blow dryer to heat emboss. They are too hot and may actually burn your paper!
  • Always unplug your heating tool as soon as you are finished with your project.
  • Protect your work surface. Use a heat proof mat or a ceramic tile to emboss your project.

Different Types of Embossing Inks

In order to get a good result, you need to use the right ink to stamp your image. It should be thick, on the sticky side, and dry slowly. Otherwise, the embossing powder will not stick to it, and the heat gun will blow it away.

  • Embossing ink, watermark inks and resist inks are your best choices for heat embossing. Depending on the company, many embossing inks have a little tint to them so you can see where you are working.
  • Pigment inks are also a good choice because they are thicker and slower to dry. Because they come in a rainbow of colors, you can get some interesting results.
  • Distress inks are slow to dry because they are water-based. You can really get some artistic weathered looks with them.
  • New oxide inks can be used to stamp your image. They leave clear, crisp images and will hold the powder!

Types Of Embossing Powders

You can find a large variety of embossing powders on the market. When you start buying them, chose the basic colors first unless you are working on a color-specific project. Then, expand your collection. Each container goes a long way!

  • Detail Embossing Powder: The thinner particles make it perfect for words, fonts, and an image with a lot of detail.
  • Embossing Pearls: Translucent powders create a pearlescent glow over any color ink.
  • Embossing Tinsels:Add a dash of glitz to your embossings.
  • Ultra-Thick Embossing Powder: The thicker particles make it ideal for images that are larger or have less detail.
  • Glitter Embossing Powder: If you like a lot of glitter in your life, this is the powder for you. You get the glitter look without the mess!
  • Metallic Embossing Powder: Get the look of gold, copper, or silver with these powders.
  • Opaque-Colored Embossing Powder: There is just about every color in the rainbow in these powders. You can even create a multi-hued or rainbow effect.

Embossing Powder Tips

Here are some tips to get the most from your embossing powders.

  1. Store them in a zip lock container with a lid and a plastic spoon. This idea has been around for years, but it makes sense. You will be able to apply the powder easily above the container and let it fall back into the container. Saves time and your powder will last longer.
  2. Always use a powder bag on the cardstock before you start embossing. That way there will be no loose powder outside of your stamped image.
  3. Use a generous amount of ink on your stamp, especially if the stamp is very detailed. This will help the powder to adhere to the surface and you will get a better image.
  4. Use a piece of foam or a mouse pad under the cardstock that you are stamping to get a crisp image. Use a good amount of pressure when you stamp.
  5. Use the spoon to place the powder on the image. Tap the paper with the spoon to get any excess off.
  6. Some embossing powder will take longer to dry. You will know when it is dry when there are no sandy particles.

Make Your Own Embossing Powder

When starting out embossing, start with the basic colors and clear. Add colors and tones of colors as time goes on

How to Use an Embossing Pen

An embossing pen is so much fun! They are, simply put, a pen with embossing ink inside. Some have dual tips (a broad tip on one end and a fine tip on the other). Some have more of a brush tip that is perfect for calligraphy.

The benefit of embossing pens is that it gives you more controlled coverage. You can use the pen to outline letters or add shadowing to any words. You can also add details and shadows to stamped images. Use the pen, add some embossing powder, and heat it.

  • Embossing ink can't be seen after it is applied. Hold it up to the light if you need to see where it is.

Make a Tool to Remove Moisture and Static

When cutting out an embossed image, do not cut into the embossed lines. This will cause the embossing powder to flake off.

More Embossing Techniques And Ideas

There are many additional techniques that you can use for heat embossing. Here are some of my favorite ideas. I hope that you go beyond the basics and explore some more heat embossing projects

Layered Heat Embossing

Background Stamps Technique

© 2018 Linda F Correa

Share Your Heat Embossing Experiences

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    • linfcor profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda F Correa 

      9 months ago from Spring Hill Florida

      It is a lot of fun and so easy to do. The material heats and dries glossy. There are unlimited color choice. Will add lots of interest to projects, Thanks for stopping by !

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      9 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This sounds like fun. The effect looks lovely. Thank you for sharing the instructions.

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