Stamping and Embossing 101


Stamping and embossing is a easy to learn, fun to do, and has endless possibilities.  It’s a great  paper arts technique to have in your arsenal, so if you haven’t tried it yet, I’ve made a video on how to get started.

You can watch it here:

Here are some important additions or that I either didn’t mention or didn’t elaborate on in the video so that the how-to explanation wouldn’t get too confusing:

  • I personally feel that metallic embossing powders are basically the only way to go. There are a few more styles out there that are also good basics–black is one, and clear is another–kids seem to dig clear because you see the ink color underneath. So if you plan to emboss with kids, make sure you get clear. But most metallics create a sophisticated end result that can’t be beat.
  • How do you know when you’re completely done embossing? Check your image for dark areas–sometimes, they’ve been heated a little and don’t quite look powdery anymore, but they haven’t completely melted yet  and don’t glisten. Just hit the area again with the embossing gun, you’ll see it melt and you’ll know you’ve gotten it.
  • If you get really close to the image/paper with the embossing gun to speed up the process, you could burn or discolor the paper. Just be patient, keep the embossing gun a couple of inches away and keep it moving.
  • Generally, your ink doesn’t show through the embossing powder (unless you don’t emboss it completely–on purpose, which can be very cool–or had  trouble getting an evenly inked image), so the inkpad color doesn’t really matter for the embossing part. Multiple inkpad options are great for adding color before  or after you emboss, but if you’re on a budget, just get a black pigment inkpad for embossing. I use Versafine or Versacolor from Tsukineko myself. Both work great. We sell the Versacolor black in our basic kit and several colored inkpads in our deluxe kit.
  • You must use pigment inkpads for embossing because they stay wet long enough to accept the embossing powder. Or inkpads that call themselves “embossing ink” stamp pads. Dye-based inkpads are really great for just stamping, but not for embossing because they dry too quickly. If you want to start stamping and don’t want to emboss, dye-based stamp pads are the way to go. Otherwise, stick to pigment inkpads.
  • Be careful of some metallic pigment ink stamp pads as they never seem to dry. Never! On either your stamp pad or your project. And that’s a bummer if you’re trying to make a card in a hurry, as I know from experience. If you love metallics like I do, you’re better off using embossing powder to get them.
  • I almost always rub color on the edge of my tags–I think it gives a nice subtle finished feeling to the project. Definitely give this a try. When I just press the edges of my tag or card in inkpad ink to add the color, I’ll rub it in afterwards with a paper towel to make it dry. But I do like the color to smudge a little, so experiment first with scraps before working on something you’re attached to.
  • One fun addition to adding color to the edges of your tag is to emboss them afterward. I’ll pour out a little embossing powder onto  scrap paper and then place the edges of the tag  into the embossing powder until all the wet ink is completely covered. Then I just hit it with the embossing gun again until it melts. Very finished looking.
  • Speaking of embossing the edges, remember that you can emboss your tag multiple times–in the video examples at the end, for instance, I show a tag where I stamped the central image and embossed it in gold embossing powder. Afterward, I stamped a small hearts stamp all over the edges and embossed those images with silver. Just keep going until your satisfied.
  • That said, there’s no point in trying to exactly stamp over a previously stamped image that didn’t come out well–you’ll never line them up completely and it’ll just look weird. (Unless, of course, that’s what you’re going for–a  kind of vibrating or out of focus thing that could be cool in the right circumstances.)
  • Once you invest in an embossing gun, a stamp or 50, embossing powder(s) and a few inkpads, you’ll be able to make A LOT of projects and realize that it’s really quite an economical creative pursuit.
    I’ve got a couple of great kits that make it super easy to get started right away.
  • And finally, you’ll probably become a little addicted to accumulating cool stamps–but hey, it happens. At least, when you’re someone who collects a particular something, people know what to give you. :-)

There are a lot of possibilities with rubber stamping and embossing. I like to use this technique in some really neat home decor projects, so keep your eye on this space for more cool projects using this technique that you won’t see anywhere else!


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  2. [...] you’re done, punch a hole in the top, pull a ribbon through (watch the end of my stamping and embossing how-to video for how to do that), and [...]

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