Saturday 7 April 2018

Embossing 101: Beginner's Guide to Embossing

Hi friends!!

Preeti Datta (aka Dutt Preety) here. Hope you are having a pleasant weekend :)

For today's post, we will discuss the Basics of Embossing. Some tips, tricks, tools & products available in the market to get nicely embossed images. This will be a beginner's guide, so without making it too complicated, we will discuss how to get started with embossing.

First of all, if you are wondering, What is Embossing ? Embossing is to impress some design on surfaces like paper, cloth, metal and even leather, to make a relief. In simple words, embossing is the procedure by which the paper surface is pushed forward (using different techniques/tools) to result in a raised image/design.  

This dimensional effect is very pleasing to the eye. It is a great way to add texture & a 3-D look to art & craft projects. It elevates the standard of our projects to another level and it is very useful to know & use these techniques in any craft projects, be it cardmaking or mixed media or decoupage or scrapbooking.

There are different types of embossing & we'll discuss some of the major types below:

Heat Embossing Or Wet Embossing

This is a big favorite amongst crafters and an easy way to add dimensional details to projects. In this technique, we use a sticky ink like Versamark and stamp with it onto cardstock. Then we sprinkle on some embossing powder onto the sticky ink & heat set it with an Embossing Heat Tool. The result is a raised and shiny image (same design as the stamp).

Basic Must-Have Tools & Products for Heat Embossing:

1. Tsukineko's Versamark Watermark Stamp Pad
(simply click on the images to explore/shop)

Versamark is a thick, sticky ink which doesn't dry quickly. So when we stamp with it, there is ample time to cover the image with an embossing powder and heat set it. If you intend on doing a lot of embossing, it is perfect for it & buying either the mini pad or the full sized pad is a good option. 

(simply click on the images to explore/shop)

Dovecraft's Embossing Heat tool gets hot and has a narrow nozzle at the top which is great for directing heat to specific areas. It is a great tool to have in one's embossing repertoire. Sometimes, newbies may wonder, what about using hair dryers? Well, no, they can not be used for heat embossing as they blow too much air and do not get hot enough, so they aren't ideal for embossing. 

Ranger's Heat it Tool is another option. It can also be used for embossing & drying projects. 

Personally, I own both heat tools by Dovecraft and Ranger. I feel that Dovecraft is better for embossing whilst Ranger's heat it tool is good for drying projects. So they both have their uses and I use both, depending on which one is closer at hand

3. Embossing Powders 
(simply click on the images to explore/shop)


Many options are available varying by manufacturer, colors, finish, coarseness-fineness etc. The must have colors to start with are Clear, WhiteBlack, Gold & Silver. One can slowly add to their stash over time. Some popular companies that make embossing powders include Ranger, American Crafts (Zing), Lawn Fawn, Lindys Gang, Hero Arts & Stampendous 

(simply click on the images to explore/shop)

The refill can be used to reink the stamp pads or one can even use the refill bottle which has a small nozzle at the top, to directly draw designs and then emboss them. 

Some Tips & Pointers for Heat Embossing:

1. Use an anti-static pad or powder tool applicator by rubbing it lightly over the cardstock before stamping on it with a sticky ink. This helps get rid of static and unnecessary specks of embossing powder which stick to areas one doesn't want. HERE is a useful video on the topic.

Anti-Static Products
(simply click on the images to explore/shop)


2. Have a fine detail dry brush nearby when embossing. It can be used to brush off any unwanted specks of embossing powder that adhere to the cardstock. This can be done before heat setting the powder to get a nicely embossed image.

3. Let the heat tool heat up for a couple of seconds before bringing it to the cardstock, this avoids unnecessary paper warping & twisting due to the extreme heat

4. To avoid burning your fingers while heat embossing, it is always better to use tweezers to hold the cardstock.
(simply click on the images to explore/shop)

5. Keep moving the heat tool and don't concentrate the heat on one spot, else it can warp the paper. Also, once the embossing powder melts (you will know it as soon as it happens as it starts to appear different and shiny), move the heat tool to a different area so as to avoid over-heating or "over-cooking" the powder that is already melted.  

6. In some special cases, like when heat embossing on vellum (which is more delicate than cardstock), heating the paper from the back and heating it intermittently by giving breaks in the middle, can avoid warping or burning of the paper. 

7. When heat embossing in black on white cardstock, it is better to stamp with Versafine Onyx Black Ink (which stays wet longer and it is easy to emboss with it) and use Clear Embossing Powder, so that even if some stray bits of embossing powder are left on the cardstock, they aren't visible.  Whereas if one were to use black embossing powder, any mistakes, or stray bits of black embossing powder will be very stark and visible against a white cardstock. 


8. Super fine embossing powders are better for detailed images and sentiments to help capture the details

9. Having Embossing Pens  is a bonus as with these one can easily heat emboss hand-drawn designs & hand lettering. Also. if while heat embossing with the Versamark Watermark Stamp Pad a little area is not inked well, one can fill it in using these embossing pens & fix mistakes.

Embossing Pens
(simply click on the images to explore/shop)
10. There are some specialty embossing powders available which give special effects. There is a lot of choice available so it is nice to look around at the options and pick a few to experiment and see which ones you like. 

There are glittery embossing powders available like Ranger's Gold Tinsel & Silver Tinsel, using these is a great and hassle free way of adding glittery shimmer to projects since they hold the glitter and avoid a mess. 


For a shabby, vintage look, Stampendous has Shabby Enamels like the Shabby Pink Embossing Enamel or the Chunky Gold Deep Impression Embossing Enamel , these give a thick layer of enamel to your artwork. One can even stamp into them to impress an image. HERE is a useful video on the same.

Then there are Ranger's Distress Embossing Powders, these give a distressed, textured look to a project instead of the normal smooth shiny look of melted powders. 

Ranger's Ultra Thick Embossing Enamels or UTEE are large particle embossing powders for Melt Art projects and heat embossed projects. These can be used with a special melting pot or embossing inks. All the multiple uses of these can be found HERE & you can watch a useful video HERE.

11. While using heat tools/heat guns, it is always better to give breaks in the middle. Use it for a minute or two, switch it off, give it a break so it can cool down and then start again. Continuously using it for several minutes again and again can put undue pressure on the machine which can cause it to break down. So it is always better to be safe than sorry. 

12. While versamark watermark ink is ideal for embossing, one can also emboss with distress oxides, distress inks and some pigment inks like Ranger's archival inks, since they stay wet long enough for one to pour embossing powder over them and heat set them. It is nice to experiment with different inks and see how to get more out of the ones you already own. 

13. One can also Heat Emboss Using Stencils, by first prepping the surface with an anti-static pad and then applying versamark ink through the stencil (it is best to tape it down above the cardstock, so it doesn't shift) either using a mini blending tool and foams or sponge daubers and then pouring over the embossing powders and heat setting them.

14. One can heat emboss die cuts, chipboards & mdf cut outs as well for a shiny and textured look. Often for these thicker materials, we may need to emboss twice or thrice to get a good, thick coverage. It is simple to do, after heat embossing once, dab on another layer of versamark watermark ink and then pour on embossing powder and heat set it and once it cools, repeat the process till the desired effect is achieved. 

15. Heat Embossing with 2-3 embossing powders of different colors can give a very cool look to one's projects. To avoid wastage of powders, it is best to partially emboss the surface with 1 powder, heat set it and then ink up the remaining areas and use another powder on it. This way the powders don't mix. 

16. It is very important to have a spare piece of paper underneath while heat embossing, so that all the embossing powder that falls out of the bottle can be funneled back into it and hence, there is no wastage. Some people like using coffee filters for this or even funnel trays like this. Experiment and see what works best for you and what you feel comfortable with

17. It is important to keep embossing powders in air tight containers since exposure to moisture can sometimes ruin these. I usually just store mine in the original bottles in which they come with the face down, so I can see the color of the powder more easily. 

Embossing Pastes

Embossing pastes have a consistency very much like butter cream frosting used in cakes. These are kind of like texture pastes and can be spread across paper craft projects or spread through stencils using a credit card or palette knife. One can go as thick or thin as one wants. These come in different colors and finishes. They dry to give a textured look to a project. We can add embossing powders to these and then heat set it, to get different looks. It is noticed that when embossing powders are heat set on top of embossing pastes while they are still wet, it gives a bubbly, rough textured finish and if we allow the pastes to dry a little and then heat set the embossing powders, it gives a smoother finish. It is upto you which look you prefer. Mica powders can also be sprinkled on top of these pastes while they are wet, to add color. Or else, one can mix inks/paints into them before hand to add color. Once they are dry, one can paint over them with inks, though they do tend to give a more muted look to inks (probably resisting the color a little) as opposed to texture pastes which show a more true color of the inks which are painted on top of them, once they are dried. HERE is a useful video about the same.

Dry Embossing

Dry Embossing in simple words is when pressure is applied to paper (or the material we are working with) to raise its surface and reveal a design. This can be done in a variety of ways, some of which we will discuss below. A lot of these techniques involve the use of a die cutting & embossing machine like those sold by Sizzix or Spellbinders. These machines allow us to dry emboss with embossing folders, dies & even stencils. 

Some popular Die Cutting & Embossing Machines 
(simply click on the images to explore/shop)

The newest member of the big shot family, it allows one to save space & folds up nicely to be put away when not in use.

The big daddy of the big shot family, it is larger & is sturdy enough to do a lot of work

The standard and much loved classic machine 

A great gem from the Spellbinders family 

The newest addition at Crafters Corner, this gem from Crafter's Companion is faster & quieter than other die cutting & embossing machines & has a sleek low profile design. 

Embossing Folders
(simply click on the images to explore/shop)

These are manufactured by various companies, are relatively economical & a great way to add textured details or create raised backgrounds for cards etc. They are available in tons of designs & there are different sizes on the market. One can do many neat techniques with these to get different looks. Basically these usually come in the form of a folder, with a front and a back attached at a hinge and one has to insert a piece of cardstock in between & then pass it through one's die cutting & embossing machine (using the sandwich recommended by the manufacturer) and one gets a textured piece of cardstock with the design on the embossing folder showing up in a raised manner. Then one can either leave it as is for a delicate tone on tone look or sand it with a sanding block or ink up the relief surface to show the design better. 

When one is a total newbie, I would recommend buying a few basic designs like small dots/circles (which can look like snow), a couple of flowery flourish type designs, bricks, woven design, paisley design, woodgrain etc as these will make for interesting backgrounds in a variety of projects.

Embossing with Dies

One can dry emboss with most thin metal dies and besides just die cutting with these, using them to emboss helps us stretch our supplies and get more out of them. To emboss with dies, one requires either the Spellbinders Tan Embossing Pads or the pair of Sizzix Silicone Rubber Pad (soft) & Sizzix Impression Pad (hard). One can also try using fun foam or felt but these aren't permanent solutions. It is always better to get the embossing pads companies like Spellbinders or Sizzix make, as they will last you forever.

(simply click on the images to explore/shop)

These are soft and pliable and allow us to emboss with thin metal dies, stencils & even thick die cuts. It is important to check the embossing sandwich apt for your machine & remember to never force anything through the machine, if it isn't going through, then maybe you need to check the thickness of the embossing sandwich again. Since every machine is a little different, one really has to tweak, test and try and see what works best in their own die cutting and embossing machine.

Embossing with Stencils

We can also emboss onto cardstock using stencils and Spellbinders Tan Embossing Pads. This is another great way to stretch your supplies and get more for your rupee. I would recommend checking the sandwich required for your particular machine and giving it a go. 

Flower Making & Embossing 

Flower making is a beautiful art form and one usually aspires to make real looking flowers from paper. To achieve the realistic look, often flower makers, emboss the petals of paper flowers and leaves with flower making tools. This creates a lovely bloomed, 3-d effect.

(simply click on the images to explore/shop)
(simply click on the images to explore/shop)
For more information on flower making & how embossing can be done on flowers, please check out these video tutorials by Crafters Corner- HERE, HERE & HERE.

One can also try embossing by hand, by going through metal stencils with embossing tools & ball tools and using a cushioning embossing pad below. 

That's all for today. This was by no means a full or exhaustive portrayal of embossing but I hope that I was able to summarize the important aspects of it and that you will explore further & try out some of the techniques and products shared here. There is a wealth of free information on the internet including youtube videos, on the topic, I would highly recommend you to check these out. Embossing really is a great way to add texture to crafting projects and heat embossing in particular can seem like magic! the excitement of seeing the embossing powder melt and transform is a real joy :)

Also, if you would like to check out my first two blog posts (in the series of Beginner's Guides), please click on the below topics.

As always, we love to see your gorgeous creations using supplies from the Crafters Corner store, so please do share them with us in our Facebook Group- Crafters Corner Showcase using the apt hashtags #craftwithcrafterscorner #dressmycraft #crafterscornerindia, on Twitter and/or on Instagram. And please remember to like/follow Crafter's Corner Facebook Page, Instagram & Youtube Accounts for updates on sales, giveaways, free tutorials and new product information. 

Hope you have a great day!
Thanks a lot for your precious time :)
Stay Blessed!
Preeti Datta


  1. Wonderful detailing Preeti,thank u so much to sharing this useful article...really need this😊

  2. Wonderfully explained. Much needed tips and tricks.thanks so much preeti for sharing.😍😍

  3. Wow Preeti!! That's super informative. You have done a lot of research and have put together a brilliant guide on embossing.

  4. Wonderfully explained post !

  5. Omg.. Now this was one well written, explained and exhaustive post Preeti. Thank you for sharing with us!

  6. Very informative post! Well written and explained in detail. Thank you for sharing :)


We would love to hear from you !