The Basics of Heat Embossing

Updated on July 31, 2020
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 Tip

Have your supplies at hand and ready before you start embossing. Once you get started, it is easier to have all your supplies on hand. The process will go a lot smoother.

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.

Embossing Tip

Oils from your skin can get on the paper from handling it. If the powder sticks where you don't want it to, use a soft brush to remove it. A quick wipe with a used fabric softener sheet before stamping will also help to prevent static cling.

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 Card stock -Lay this under your project so that you can salvage any left over embossing powder
  • Heat Gun-You must have a craft heat gun to successfully complete this project,They are designed for crafts, blowing extremely hot air (but not too hot) with a low air current as to not blow the powder right off the page. Hair dryers or blow dryers will not work at all. Heat guns come in different sizes and are reasonable in price.
  • Static Powder Bag-Wipes the static from your project or
  • 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.

5 More Ways To Use Embossing Powder

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.

Embossing Tip

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 Tip

Embossing powder will stick to any moist, freshly stamped image, but special slow-drying embossing ink, VersaMark and pigment inks pads stay wet longer and make embossing easier.

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.

Embossing In Any Color

Sometimes, you would like to create am embossed image in a color that you may not have embossing powder in your stash. There is a very quick and easy remedy for that.


Versamark Ink

Ink Pad in the color of your choice

Card stock

Clear Embossing Powder

Heating Tool

Stamp of your choice

  1. Ink your stamp in the Versamark Ink
  2. Without stamping, ink your stamp with any other color of your choice (you are inking on top of the Versamark ink
  3. Stamp the image
  4. Quickly sprinkle the clear embossing powder on top of the inked image before the ink dries
  5. Heat set with the heating tool

Make Your Own Embossing Powder

Embossing Tip

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

Embossing Tip

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

Double Heat Embossing

Double heat embossing adds detail to your project
Double heat embossing adds detail to your project | Source

Double Heat Embossing

Double heat embossing is a technique that will take your image from drab to fab.

  1. First stamp and emboss an image.
  2. Then color in the image with markers, colored pencils or chalks.
  3. Brush or sponge clear embossing ink from the embossing pad over the colored image.
  4. Pour clear embossing powder over the image.
  5. Heat the image with your heat gun

The over enamel technique creates dimension and interest
The over enamel technique creates dimension and interest

Over Embossing

Over embossing gives you an image that appears to be coated with lacquer.

  1. Coat your colored image with clear or enamel embossing powder.
  2. Heat your image with a heat gun from the underside of the paper until the powder has completely melted.
  3. Continue doing steps one and two until you have built up a shiny, smooth and clear surface.

Embossing enamel comes in clear as well as colors depending on the manufacturer
Embossing enamel comes in clear as well as colors depending on the manufacturer

Using Embossing Enamel

Embossing enamel is a large grain clear embossing powder. Because the grains are large, it can be used to create several looks. One way to use it is to allow the large granules spread out as they are heated, creating a smooth, glassy, extra thick surface.

To give a more bumpy layer, use a single layer of the enamel. A second and third coat of the enamel will take it to a more glass like appearance.

Use a large single image. Color the image and over emboss it. Cut out the image, and heat again. Shape the image as it may bend between coats.

Free Form Embossing Technique

Just dab embossing ink anywhere you want on your card stock. Add embossing powder. Get crazy with this technique. Use different colors of embossing powder. Mix some powders into a unique color. Get messy and have fun !

Edging Embossing Technique

Simply rub the edges of your card stock with the embossing pad. Add embossing powder, brush off excess and heat with your heat gun. Design the rest of your card.

Layered Heat Embossing

Embossing Tip

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

Background Stamps Technique

Questions & Answers

  • Can this embossed image get removed?

    I am assuming that you mean can an embossed image be removed off paper? I would think that the only thing you could do would be to try to heat it up with a heat gun. But it is like plastic. It would be difficult to remove it from the paper without ripping the paper. Mostly, you would have to start the project again

  • I want to emboss a jelly jar filled candle. Will I destroy the embossing with the heat of the candle?

    Since you can emboss over a single embossing, I would imagine that the heat of the candle could change the embossing on your container. I would give it a shot. Please advise me how it turned out.

  • I tried some embossing however the heat gun seemed to blow the powder away. Why is that?

    I assume that you used the right ink like an embossing ink before you placed the powder on the paper. If you did not use the right ink, the powder will not hold. Assuming that you did use the right ink, tap the paper before you apply the heat gun. Make sure that the heat gun is warmed up before you start.

  • I want to put a company logo on a packaging bag. What type of powder do I need to do heat embossing? Also, what type of ink do I need to use?

    Are you using a plastic or paper bag? I have never embossed on plastic because of the heat that you have to use to dry it. You need embossing powder. It comes in lots of colors. You need embossing ink- comes in a pad. And you need a heat gun. The heat gun heats the embossing powder, and it gets a little hot.

  • What do I need to buy to start heat embossing?

    You will need embossing powder in the color of your choice, a stamp, embossing ink and a heat gun. You can use any stamps that you might have in your stash.

© 2018 Linda F Correa

Share Your Heat Embossing Experiences

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    • linfcor profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda F Correa 

      6 days ago from Spring Hill Florida

      The first question I would ask is what are you using fir the embossing pad. That is the pad that you stamp the image with. Is your embossing pad inky enough? I was working on a project and realized that my embossing pad was quite dry. Time for a new pad. Most times that is the problem. But let me know.

    • linfcor profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda F Correa 

      8 days ago from Spring Hill Florida

      I have sent you an email to see if I can help

    • profile image


      9 days ago

      I just brought my material

      But the embossing does not stick alt all :(

      Please help!!


    • linfcor profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda F Correa 

      2 years 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 

      2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

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


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