Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Spice Up Your Embosing

I discovered heat embossing early on in my stamping career, and fell instantly in love with it! It's still my favorite "wow" technique, giving me a thrill each time I watch those granules change from tiny colored grains into a smooth, shiny image.

As with many things, I bought all kinds of brands and types of powders before I learned to simplify! How to store this collection efficiently when only two were alike to begin with? I saw an idea somewhere for putting the powders into spice jars. I commented at stamp club one evening that I was looking for a wall-mount spice jar rack, and my friend Lori came bringing me this from a garage sale a couple of months later. I LOVE IT. Most of the colors I had accumulated just got dumped into the spice jars, and I ran lid labels onto Whisper White and punched them out. A couple of the jars had lids missing. Amazing as it seems, the lids from the SU! embossing powders fit perfectly, completing my set.

Want to learn from my mistakes as you start out? Here's what you need to know when you can't find anyone to ask in the craft store aisles:

When you first begin to heat emboss, invest in a
good quality heat gun. Tool temperatures can vary by as much as 300 degrees, and you don't want to be disappointed because your powder won't melt! Be sure the metal tip of the gun is not exposed so you avoid burns (it's hotter than your curling iron, gals!). It's also nice to have a tool that comes with a guarantee - think Stampin' Up! here. This is an investment for the long haul, not worth the "savings" when you have to buy two or three cheaper heat guns over the same period of time that one quality tool will last.

Next, you'll need a way to stick the embossing powder to the paper until you can melt it. Here's where the amazing
VersaMark ink comes in. It remains tacky for about 10 minutes, giving you plenty of time to work.

Of course, you'll need some
embossing powder. Did you know it comes in three grades? Fine or "detail" is good for those really delicate images, medium (most readily available and not usually labeled as to grade), and thick/heavy (sometimes used for an overall coating, such as the clear "Glassy Glaze" which makes such an interesting cracked or stained glass effect). A one ounce jar will last...and last...and last! To keep your powder true to color, make sure you shake it into a clean receptacle to return it to the original container.

Top Secret Tip: You do not need one of every color embossing powder. You need black, white, metallics (including Ver-de-gris if you like that), and clear. This is true with very few exceptions and simplifies things so much! Here's what to do: Coat your stamp with Versamark. Next, stamp into the classic ink color you want your embossed image to appear. Now stamp onto your cardstock, apply clear embossing powder and heat set. Your finished image will appear to be whatever color ink you used! This saves you so much space and $$! And it will not damage your ink pads (just be sure to clean your stamp before you put it on the Versamark again).

embossing buddy isn't essential to the actual process of heat embossing, but you'll be especially glad you have one in the winter or if your crafting space is carpeted. It's a little bag filled with a powder that cuts static electricity, which can cause rogue granules to stick to your project where you don't want them! This little gizmo will save you lots of time and angst and ensure a clean, clear finished image with just a simple swipe across your card stock before you stamp the image.

Speaking of those receptacles. I started with flexible paper plates. These work okay, and it's what I could afford at first after I bought the above. You can just fold the plate in half to create a channel and send those unused granules back into the jar for the next time. However. Once the plate has uncooperatively "popped" on you a couple of times, showering embossing granules all over you and your work area, you may want to rethink the decision to purchase a set of the Powder Pals. Their shape helps control the flow of the powder, and the little removable plugs in the narrow end let you keep control of what falls out, when!

Finally, I keep a couple of tiny paint brushes and a larger brush (for cleaning my work area) nearby. The small brushes work well if I want to remove embossing powder granules from part of the image before heat setting.

Hope you find this helpful as you work with this very rewarding technique! -Kathy

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