Home DIY Projects + Tutorials Heat Embossing

{Workshop Wednesday is a new weekly feature at DIY Bride. Every Wednesday, I’ll be presenting a new technique to help you create some crafty wedding goodness.}

That I am a rubber stamping fiend should come of no surprise to long-time DIY Bride friends. I’ve professed my undying love for it many times in these pages. Part of the reason is that it’s what got me started in crafting and part because stamping is just plain fun. The technique I’m sharing today is one of my favorites and one that adds a beautiful finish to nearly any paper craft project you can stamp on.

Heat embossing is the act of melting a plastic-based powder onto paper. The result is a shiny, slightly raised surface on the embossed image. It’s a great way to add a little pizazz to invitations or favor packaging. And it’s pretty darned easy to do.

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While the finished project (above) is black-on-white embossing, I’ve used white embossing on black cardstock to better illustrate the technique.

Tools & Supplies

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  • Paper or cardstock
  • VersaMark Watermark stamp pad or pigment ink stamp pad
  • Embossing powder
  • Rubber stamp
  • Heat embossing tool
  • Scrap paper
  • Embossing buddy or anti-cling dryer sheet (not shown)

Directions

  1. The first step is to rub the face of the paper project (in this case, the invitation) with an Embossing Buddy or a used dryer sheet. This helps remove static from the paper which will help the embossing powder stick only where it’s supposed to. Set the project aside.
  2. 1.jpg Ink a rubber stamp with the VersaMark pad. For larger stamps, I like to turn the stamp on its back and tap the pad onto the surface of the stamp. This lets me see where I’m putting the ink to make sure the stamp is evenly covered.
  3. 2.jpg Stamp the inked image onto the invitation. Set aside for a sec.
  4. Fold a piece of scrap paper in half.  Open it. Place the invitation on the opened scrap paper. The scrap paper is to catch excess embossing powder. The fold will act as a funnel when you pour the unused embossing powder back into the container. (One of my favorite tips. Ever.)
  5. 4.jpg Pour a generous amount of embossing powder onto the stamped areas of the invitation. Do be stingy here.
  6. Now carefully pick up the invitation and shake off the excess embossing powder onto the scrap paper. Set the invite aside.
  7. 5.jpgPour the unused embossing powder back into its container. (Spilled e.p. is a pain in the butt to clean up! It’s almost as bad as glitter.)
  8. 6.jpg Turn on your heat embossing tool and let it warm up, about 30 – 45 seconds is usually sufficient.
  9. 7.jpg {Shot of grainy embossing powder, before melted}
  10. 8.jpg Now, point the heat tool over the embossing powder, about 2″ – 3″ away from the surface. In slow, steady movements move the tool back and forth over the powdered images. You’ll be able to see the powder melt and go from slightly grainy to glossy. It’s important to note that the heat tool is HOT. The air coming from it is HOT. It will burn the paper (or you) so keep it moving. Linger too long on a spot and it’ll turn brown or it’ll catch fire. I know this from experience.
  11. 9.jpg Once the embossing powder has completely melted, you’re done! That’s all there is to it.

Notes:

  • Embossing powders come in hundreds of shades, different opacities, several textures and can even be found metallics and with glitter.
  • If you’re going to do a lot of embossed projects, I recommend getting a wide, flat Tupperware type container with a lid.  Pour all of your embossing powder into it. Hold your paper projects over the container and use a spoon to pour powder onto the paper. The rest will just fall back into the container.
  • Embossing Buddys are small bags of cornstarch that you rub over paper to help prevent static cling. Because most embossing powders are plastic-based, the powder often will stick in places you don’t want due to static cling. Embossing Buddys (there are different brand names for them) are available at most craft stores in the stamping section.
  • We’ll talk about VersaMark and pigment inks in another post, but I wanted to give the reason you need either one of these. Pigment inks and VersaMark are “sticky” inks that give embossing powder something to grab on to. Dye-based inks dry too fast and aren’t sticky enough (they don’t have as much glycerin) to use embossing powders with.

The finished project measure 5.25″ x 7.25″. The template for the invitation is available here: 5x7template.doc. It measures 5″ x 7″ and is mounted on a 5.25″ x 7.25″ piece of contrasting cardstock.

Rubber stamp: Baroque Motifs set from Stampin’ Up!

Cardstock: Unknown

Ink: VersaMark

Embossing Powders: Imprintz, White ; Personal Stamp Exchange, Black

Heat Tool: Uchida

14 replies to this post
  1. I love to emboss also! Hopefully this helps your readers: I’ve had a lot of luck stamping using the color ink that I need, preferably the Brilliance brand stamp pads, and using clear embossing powder. You have to worry a little less about stray powder outside of your design. The only time that I have used colored embossing powder is if I want something with glitter inside the powder, otherwise ink has always served me well.

    Just a tip!

  2. I’ve never embossed before, but would like to in a project. Is it absolutely necessary to get a heating tool specific to embossing or can I use a hairdryer or soemthing already have? I’d hate to spend the money for something I might rarely use.

  3. Thanks, Elizabeth! I’ll be covering that, glitter, flock, and metallics in a follow-up workshop. Oh, the embossing fun we’ll have. :-)

  4. Hi Laura! Unfortunately, you will need the embossing tool. Hair dryers rarely get hot enough to melt the embossing powder which melts anywhere between 200 – 300 degrees F. I’ve heard of people using toaster ovens and hot plates to melt the powder but I’d be very scared to try that myself. (Instructions, in case you’re braver than I: Stamp image, add embossing powder, place paper into oven or on hot plate. Do NOT walk away from project. Monitor closely, checking often.)

    Keep an eye out for coupons from your local mega craft stores. They often run 40% off (or more coupons) throughout the year. That’d be a great opportunity to pick up a heat tool on the cheap. There’s always eBay, too.

  5. I found out about this from stumbling onto this website, and I have been in love ever since! It is soooooo easy to do! I’ve started working on my invitations, and I’ve embossed both the inside and out of each one. It looks amazing and super professional. I used clear powder and different color inks. I actually got my heat gun for $9.99 because it was on sale. I highly reccomend AC Moore for the supplies needed for this project- they have a HUGE selection and are so cheap! THANK YOU!

  6. thanks so much for this tutorial! I’m planning to print my own invitations on lightweight cardstock using my laser printer at home. Would it be alright to emboss designs onto the invitation after printing? Will the heat from the embossing tool damage the printed text? I suppose going the cheap route and “baking” the invitations in the oven would be a no-go? :)

  7. I just tried this, and my paper keeps warping (I’ve only tried one kind of paper). Is that something specific to the paper I am using? How can I avoid warping of paper?
    Thank you!

  8. Laura, I use a heat gun that I bought at the hardware store and put it on the lowest setting. The embossing tool at the craft store was $40 but the ‘in-store’ brand of heat gun at the hardware store was $24.99

  9. When I was a kid I used to emboss stuff all the time (I was obsessed with rubber stamps) and of course, I couldn’t afford a heat embosser tool….so I used the open halogen lamp we had. It worked perfectly, just make sure and hold it far enough above to not burn the paper.

  10. I would like to emboss my invitations. However i can not find the stamp i’m looking for. Is it some how possible to make a stamp of my own

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