How to Emboss: A Complete Guide to Various Embossing Techniques
Table of Contents
- What is Embossing?
- Heat Embossing Tools & Supplies
- How to Heat Emboss
- Machine Paper Embossing Tools & Supplies
- How to Machine Emboss on Paper
- Hand Paper Embossing Tools & Supplies
- How to Emboss on Paper by Hand
- Leather Embossing Tools & Supplies
- How to Emboss on Leather
- Fabric Embossing Tools & Supplies
- How to Emboss on Fabric
- Metal Embossing Tools & Supplies
- How to Emboss on Metal
- Embossing with a Die-cutting Machine Tools & Supplies
- How to Emboss with Die-Cutting Machines
What is Embossing?
Embossing is making a raised design on any surface with the use of different techniques. You can use embossing powders and dry embossing on paper and other media.
In this article, we comprehensively discussed how to emboss on different media, tools & products, and even the different media that you can emboss.
There are various kinds of embossing techniques you can try. Check out our article on engraving vs. embossing to know more about these different techniques.
Heat Embossing Tools & Supplies
Also called wet embossing, heat embossing involves melting an embossing powder to achieve a raised pattern on cardstock. You can apply it on almost any porous and non-porous materials, including metal sheets, resin epoxy crafts, leather, faux leather, and even plastic.
One of the essential tools you need to emboss is an embossing gun. It effectively melts the embossing powder on your stamped or embossed image to give it a glittery or highlighted effect.
Embossing powders come in many colors, styles, and textures. They are from a thermoplastic polymer that reacts with heat and raises itself from the surface of the cardstock. Besides using them for embossing, you can also melt clear embossing powder as an enamel embossing or custom glaze for your resin epoxy crafts.
You can get clear, colored, glitter, metallic, and even holographic embossing powders or in different textures (regular, superfine, and large). If you don’t like the glossy finish, you can also try the matte dull embossing powder.
An embossing ink pad is essential to transfer your design to your paper, especially when using a stamp. You can also transfer ink directly to the embossing folder by rubbing the pad lightly over it so that only the raised parts get inked.
The sticky substance in it holds the embossing powder on the design so that when you apply heat, the embossing powder melts and rises.
You use an embossing stamp to transfer your design to your cardstock. You can choose from a rubber stamp mounted on a wooden handle or silicone.
Mounted rubber stamps take more space than silicone ones. You also need a high-quality rubber stamp that can withstand wear and tear after so much use and cleaning. They are also more expensive and somewhat restrictive as to sizes.
MISTI, short for Most Incredible Stamp Tool Invented, is just what it claims to be. It is a book-like contraption with a solid back, usually black, and a measurement guide around it for reference. You can also insert a thin, white plastic sheet with grid lines for lining up your cardstock. The front cover is clear acrylic and has a grid on it also.
You can also get the corner positioning pieces for better stamping and precision layering and angling for your stamps.
Embossing ink pads do not remain juicy or inked. Sometimes, the pad dries out because of humid conditions, or the ink gets used up after repeated use. To get your pad to do its job again, add a few drops of ink from the embossing reinker bottle. Use the same reinker brand as the pad brand.
How to Make a DIY Embossing Buddy
- Cut a small portion from an old pantyhose.
- Choose a thick one so you have some control over the talcum powder it releases.
- Put the stockings over a small cup, fill it with talcum or cornstarch, then tie it off with a rubber band or thread.
- Give enough slack to the pantyhose so you can lay it flat on the table. You can sew a microfiber pocket for it or use it as is.
You can use an embossing pen for adding designs directly to the cardstock or use it to touch up missed embossing powders.
Sometimes a pen has two tips, a fine tip on one end and a brush tip. Fine tips are best for small, fine places to touch up, while the brush tip is best for adding calligraphy or touching up large areas on your card.
How to Heat Emboss
If you’re new to embossing, heat embossing is the best method you can do because it does not need expensive machines and tools. With clear embossing ink and a few embossing powders, you can turn a boring card into something fantastic and luxurious. Invest in good heat guns because they are the secret to perfectly embossed designs.
There are lots of techniques for using embossing powders, but they all follow these four basic steps.
- Rub your embossing buddy on your cardstock to remove all static.
- Stamp your design.
- Apply your embossing powder over your stamped image, and tap off the excess.
- Melt the powder with a heat gun to achieve a raised pattern. If using an embossing gun with dual temperature settings, use the lower one.
Once you have mastered these steps, you can play around with your techniques to achieve more awesome results on your cards. Which method do you think is easiest for a newbie?
Partial Heat Embossing
As the name implies, partial heat embossing involves embossing some parts of the card while leaving some embossed images to retain the watermark finish. The secret for this technique, though, is the slow-drying ink. Coloring in is optional but lends a lovely touch to your card.
Things You’ll Need
- Black cardstock, cut to 4 ¼ x 5 ¾ inches
- Embossing buddy
- Clear embossing ink
- Leaves and flowers embossing folder set
- Embossing machine
- Clear embossing powder
- Embossing heat gun
- Pearl watercolor
- Watercolor pen
- Rub your embossing buddy over the thick, black paper.
- Apply the clear ink on the embossing folder. We recommend using one with a central focal image for partial embossing later.
- Sandwich your paper between the folder and cutting pads, then roll it through your machine.
- Add clear embossing powder to your embossed card’s background, focusing on the focal image. Tap off the excess powder.
- Remove the embossing powder with a brush in areas you don't want to emboss.
- Leave the focal area intact with the powder, then melt it with a heat gun.
- Color in the embossed design using pearl watercolor or any paint available.
- Embellish your card as desired with transparent vellum and die-cut sentiments.
Masking is a fun way of layering and adding dimension and that “halo effect” on your cards. And yes, the secret there is the masking paper that will give your image some white space around it. The good thing about using masking paper is that their adhesives are low-tack, repositionable, and won’t cause any damage to your card.
Things You’ll Need
- White cardstock, cut to 4 ¼ x 5 ¾ inches
- Masking paper or post-it tape
- Stamp and coordinating die
- Pigment ink
- Mini ink blending tool
- Black & white embossing powder bundle
- Embossing heat gun
- Stamp your card with the dog stamp, positioned where you want it.
- With the coordinating die, cut your dog out of masking paper.
- Put it over your stamped design, carefully centering it. If you don’t have a coordinating die, you can just stamp your design on the masking paper, cut it along the outline, or leave some space around your stamp for the ‘halo effect.’
- Place a strip of masking paper slightly below the dog to look like it is sitting on the line.
- Using the mini ink blending tools, add pigment ink on the upper part of the card, stopping where the mask goes.
- Remove the mask and reverse its position so you can ink on the lower part of the card. Leave a white line about an eighth of an inch.
- Add a different color from your pigment inks with the ink blending tool.
- Remove the tapes and stamp your sentiments below the white line with clear embossing ink. Your powder embossing powder must melt in a minute as a sign that you have the right temperature.
- Sprinkle black powder on the sentiments and melt it with an embossing gun.
- Stamp random designs around the dog using clear ink and emboss it with white powder.
Embossing with DIY Embossing Powders
Have you seen a card embossed with old eyeshadow makeup? You may not realize it, but eyeshadow makeup has mica and sometimes metallic ingredients making it perfect for embossing. You may be wondering how to use eye makeup, but we just pulled a DIY hack, so you don't have to throw away those precious eye makeup.
The secret weapon here is the sticky embossing powder which is a lot cheaper than clear embossing powder. It also allows you to add different colors of eyeshadow without spending a fortune.
Things You’ll Need
- Black cardstock, cut to 4 ¼ x 5 ½ inches
- Old eyeshadow
- Clear embossing ink
- Sticky embossing powder
- Embossing heat gun
- Feather stamp and die set
- Microfiber towel
- Stamp a few feathers on a piece of card.
- Add sticky embossing powder to the stamped image and heat set with an embossing heat gun.
- Apply eyeshadow powder over the slightly wet embossed image with a small brush.
- Rub off the excess eyeshadow with a microfiber towel to reveal the shiny finish. Cut with the coordinating cutting dies and use this to embellish your cards.
Machine Paper Embossing Tools & Supplies
Machine embossing aside from the machine involves accessories (platforms, cutting pads, and mats) and embossing folders. Here are some tools used for dry embossing.
Embossing machines come in different sizes and features. You can operate some manually by turning the crank while others run by electricity. Aside from embossing, you can also use it to cut dies using a different set of cutting boards.
Cutting boards and platforms must be compatible with the size machine. Different brands have different specifications.
Larger Sizzix machines require a platform to serve as the base of the cutting pads. These are usually adjustable by opening the hinged tabs. However, you cannot directly use the platform when cutting your dies or sandwich your embossing folders in it.
Cutting pads, on the other hand, are usually clear and made from plastic. Place your folder in between the cutting pads and on top of the platform. Then, run the sandwich through it.
Instead of 2 cutting pads, use a silicone rubber mat and a cutting pad to emboss using a die. The soft but firm texture of the silicone rubber mat leaves a deeper impression on your cardstock.
Shims are thin sheets of rigid material around 0.1mm and are usually made from mylar, a form of polyester film with high stability, strength, and transparency.
Its purpose is to adjust the thickness of the embossing sandwich when the cutting board and the platform do not give enough pressure to leave a deep impression on the cardstock. However, if you don’t have mylar shims, you can make do with a few sheets of cardboard or scrap paper.
Embossing folders are the most numerous tools you should have when you want to get serious with dry embossing. Regular embossing folders are generally thinner than 3D folders and make only one kind of impression.
A 3D embossing folder, on the other hand, is thicker to accommodate the textured image. To emboss paper, slip a sheet into the embossing folder, then apply pressure to it using the embossing machine or some hacks.
How to Emboss on Paper
The most challenging part of dry embossing on vellum for cardmaking is the choice of adhesives. The trick is to use double adhesive tape, then cover the adhesives with another cardstock. To maintain crisp designs on your embossed paper, use a piece of scrap paper to act as a buffer between your folder and paper.
Things You’ll Need
- Thick translucent vellum, cut to 3 ¾ x 5 inches
- Black cardstock, cut to 4 x 5 ¼ inches
- White cardstock, cut to 4 ¼ x 5 ½ inches
- Border silicone stamp
- Sentiment stamp
- Embossing machine
- Embossing folder
- Double-sided adhesive tape, ¼ inch
- Metallic gold embossing powder
- Embossing heat gun
- Prepare all your card base and vellum by cutting them to the suggested size. You can also use bigger sizes, allowing at least a ¼-inch difference between the cards and vellum.
- Emboss your vellum using the folder you prefer.
- Cut a piece of black card to stamp your border design and sentiments.
- Stamp your black card using clear embossing ink. Be sure to rub an anti-static tool before stamping to keep the embossing powder within the design later.
- Apply the metallic gold embossing powder and heat it with your heat source of choice.
- Trim off excess around your stamped card to center your design.
- To assemble, apply glue on the black card and stick it to the white card, carefully centering it.
- Apply double-sided adhesive on the back of the embossed vellum and stick it on top of the black cardstock.
- Position your card decors on top of the embossed vellum after adding double-sided adhesive to it. Add other embellishments as you like.
Hand Paper Embossing Tools & Supplies
An embossing stylus and a stencil, even a DIY one, are enough to get you going. However, to make your work easier and faster, here are other products you can use. Some of these tools are optional, but they always come in handy.
Invest in a set of good quality embossing styluses with different sizes of metal ball heads. The smallest metal ball head works best to make outlines, while the larger ball head works to fill up your design.
Choose a good cardstock when embossing manually. It should be at least 110gsm, but you can use up to 300gsm since you don't have to worry about machine restrictions.
An important tip when embossing, hold your stylus at an angle and pull it toward you, not the opposite. Turn your paper to prevent fatigue instead of getting your arm and hand at an awkward angle.
Washi tapes are low-tack tapes used by most crafters to hold their designs in place. It does not leave an adhesive residue on paper and won't cause any visible damage to it.
Wax paper lessens the friction between the paper and the stylus. It also increases the fluidity of the stylus's motion. Crumple a piece of wax paper and rub it over your cardstock to transfer the wax on the paper. Parchment paper won't work because it does not have wax.
Use a silicone mat to deepen the impressions on your project during manual embossing. Choose one that is not too thin (about 2mm is good) but firm enough to make a good impression. You can also find this in your local craft store or find one at online craft stores.
A lighted platform is optional for manual embossing, but it eases transferring the design to your paper. If you don’t have a lighted platform, work near a well-lit window or an intense light. You can also make a DIY lightbox if you want. There are tons of tutorials on Youtube that you can try.
How to Emboss on Paper by Hand
Embossing paper manually using a stencil is an easy but tricky way to dry emboss. The trick to emboss paper is to draw your design by tracing the stencil’s outline. Follow the outline, then fill in using an embossing stylus or a paper stump.
Things You’ll Need
- Precision knife
- Embossing stylus
- Wax paper
- Self-healing cutting mat
- Silicone rubber mat
- Flower stencil
- Washi tape
- If you want to make a custom stencil, draw or print one on a thick card piece or translucent vellum.
- Trace the design on a thick card if you used translucent vellum, then cut the design out on the card with a precision knife. Use the self-healing cutting mat to prevent damage to your table.
- Trace the design on another card, then tape it together.
- Lay them on the silicone rubber mat, stencil side down.
- Trace the outline of the stencil with a fine-point stylus.
- Fill the blank spaces of the design using a larger one or a paper stump.
- Carefully lift the stencil, leaving one side taped on the card to see if you missed some spots before removing it. Touch up as needed.
Leather Embossing Tools & Supplies
Leather embossing, much like machine embossing on paper, involves transferring a negative design from a mold to the leather, resulting in raised patterns on the leather. We have three methods of doing leather embossing, not counting the industrial type of doing it.
Manual Leather Embossing
Another method you can try is manual leather embossing using tools around your home. However, doing it by hand results in uneven pressure, especially if you’ve been doing it for hours on end. Therefore, we suggest you do manual leather embossing for designs that you only use once since it won’t be cost-effective to make a stamp for it.
Leathercrafters use a dead blow hammer or a mallet to drive the stamps to the leather by giving it short, forceful taps. Although you may use metal and wooden mallets, we recommend using mallets with rubber coating or made with nylon to protect your tools from wearing or damage.
Crafters use both the rod or plate to hold your negative stamp in place while hammering it on their leather piece without harming their fingers or nails. The ramming rod should not be longer than 6 inches to prevent softening the blow. It is best for small stamps.
The steel plates, on the other hand, are best for wider stamps. Therefore, we recommend that you have the 4-inch square steel plate here cut into several sizes (½ x 2 inches, 1x2 inches, 2x2 inches, and 2x4 inches) so you can have different-sized plates.
The downside of using plates is uneven pressure, so we suggest getting an arbor press is best for bigger stamps.
As the name implies, wax seal stamps add designs to your wax seal to achieve that vintage effect. You can use the stamp itself to create an embossed effect on your leather pieces.
You can also customize these stamps to carry your brand or for your customized designs. You should consider the cost of customizing the stamp when pricing for orders, especially if you cannot use it for subsequent works.
The I-mallet is best when using handheld leather stamping or carving tools. You can also use this for stamp embossing with a ramming rod.
Leather embossing tools transfer designs on the leather. The different metal ball heads also create different impressions on the leather piece.
Embossing with a Press
Working with a press is a lot better in many ways. Because of the even pressure applied to it, the image comes out more crisp. The arbor press is also very affordable and having it in your craft shop cuts your work shorter.
The arbor press is a good way to press your designs on leather evenly. This press has a capacity of 1 ton, so you don’t need much strength to push it down.
Although the base is relatively narrow, you can install a wider steel plate on it as the ram is adjustable with a few turns of the screw.
You can use one of these press plates to serve as a base on your arbor press when embossing your leather piece. Use the other plate to hold the stamp in place while embossing. This setup is best for longer designs.
Embossing with a Machine
As discussed in previous articles, we can emboss leather using the conventional embossing machine and folders. You’ll need the same device, although you’ll need lesser cutting pads and platforms when working with leather.
We recommend an industrial-type or smaller embossing machine with metal gears and crank for leather embossing because leather is more challenging and thicker than cardstock. Aside from embossing, you can also use leather die cuts on this machine.
When embossing leather, the silicone rubber and the Impressions pad are the essential accessories you need. It gives you the thickness required for embossing leather while ensuring that your leather piece gets the best impression.
Embossing folders like the Gemini studded leather folder because it gives depth and dimension to your leather sheets. Stay away from 3D embossing folders when working with sheets thicker than 2mm and use standard folders instead.
How to Emboss on Leather
Leather is tough to emboss, especially when you have a very thick piece or very tough leather. While it is not impossible, especially when working with an arbor press, you also want to make it easier.
For home crafters, leather crafts like personalized bracelets, jewelry, hair ornaments, key holders, and labels are easy to make if you have the right tools.
Embossed Leather Earrings
Leather jewelry is becoming a powerful statement piece that you don’t want to miss for your boho ensemble. From braided to quilled and classy to outrageous, leather is a blank canvas that crafters love to explore. Discover the beauty of embossed leather jewelry with a few tools and supplies in this simple tutorial below.
If you don’t have that patience, though, you can hire an embossing service company to do the hard work for you. All you need to do is find one near your location, and you’re on your way to doing awesome leather projects.
Things You’ll Need
- Embossing machine, 6-inches
- Leaves & flowers embossing folder
- Archival ink bundle
- Vegetable-tanned leather, 1.0-1.3mm thickness
- Earring dies
- Utility knife
- Burnishing tool
- Earring hooks
- Gum tragacanth
- Jewelry pliers
- Punch pliers
- Rub your archival ink of choice on both sides of the leather, letting one side dry before coloring the other side.
- Cut a portion of the leather once it is dry.
- Arrange the leather sheet on top of a cutting pad, then arrange a cutting die, careful to catch a pattern on each earring. Cover this arrangement with another cutting pad.
- Run the sandwich through the machine. If the die does not cut through, finish cutting with a utility knife.
- Put your leather earring cuts in between your folder.
- Sandwich the folder and leather between the cutting pads and run it through the machine.
- Dampen the edge of the earring and sand or burnish it to smoothen the edge.
- Finish with some gum tragacanth (gum trag) and rub it with a canvas cloth until it is smooth. You can also apply the same color of archival ink on the edges and burnish it again.
- To assemble, punch a small hole in the earrings and attach the earring hooks with a pair of jewelry pliers.
Manual Leather Embossing
The good thing about hand embossing is you can work on thick leather pieces. You can also customize your designs without spending much on dies and stamps. It is more time-consuming, though, and needs a medium to a high level of proficiency.
This particular project combines cutting and embossing. Cutting makes the image while embossing gives dimension to the badge.
Things You’ll Need
- Soak the leather in water for 30 seconds. Pat dry with an absorbent towel. You can also just wet it with a sponge dipped in plain water.
- Draw the pattern on the leather sheet with a pencil.
- Follow the outline of the design with a small chisel tool.
- After doing the outline, deepen the impression with a dull-tipped tool and a mallet.
- Stamp in the blank spaces to adorn the design.
- Define the design with a bevel tool to emphasize the embossed image.
Fabric Embossing Tools & Supplies
Embossing on fabric requires large, industrial-type machines to leave a deep, embossed design on the fabric. Besides, you’ll also need a pair of metal plates for the design transfer.
But since we are a crafts website, we will not deal with actual fabric embossing and veer toward faux embossing. So you get almost the same quality at a third of the price.
Plastisol Silkscreen Printing
You can achieve faux embossing on fabric using a silkscreen, plastisol ink, and a heating machine or tool. To complete the faux embossing look, choose the ink color nearest to your material.
However, you can also do embossed printing using the usual designs and colors you desire. Just remember to use a cotton, polyester, or poly-cotton material for printing.
Silkscreen printing involves a fine mesh screen mounted to a wooden frame that acts as a barrier between the stencil, fabric, and ink.
Pull the silkscreen tightly when mounting it, so the ink gets transferred smoothly to the t-shirt you're printing. You can get the silkscreen by cuts of 3 yards at a very affordable price.
After deciding on your design, transfer it to a stencil - inkjet transparency film, pre-coated emulsion sheets, or even a simple acetate film. If you don’t want to make one, you can try this self-adhesive silk screen stencil set that you can use repeatedly.
You may also try this photo emulsion printing kit. It includes a wooden screen frame, base, squeegee, and four jars of printing ink. It also comes with photo emulsion, photosensitizer, photo emulsion remover, transparencies, lamp, photoflood bulb, crafts sticks, and a sheet of black paper.
You can’t use the paint for embossed printing, though, but knowing how to make your photo emulsion will help you customize your design.
Squeegees are tools you use to spread your ink on your silkscreen. There are various squeegees (wooden handle or dual-edge) but always find something about the exact width of your stencil, so you pass over the image once. Also, remember to scrape toward you to keep the ink distribution even.
Plastisol ink is a PVC-based ink with a high opacity that prints its true color even when used in dark t-shirts. You can use it out of the tub.
No additives or solvents are needed. It also needs to cure at 300oF to 330oF because it is thermoplastic. However, this particular ink has a lower curing temperature of 270oF, so always check the recommended temperature for curing your plastisol ink.
Unlike water-based inks that clog the silkscreen after left on for a few minutes, you can also work faster with plastisol ink because you can apply it over wet ink. However, it is costly, and you can’t iron it. Cleaning up also needs a special cleaner to remove all ink residues on your screen.
Adding puff additive to your plastisol ink results in faux embossed printing. Add small amounts of puff additive at a time until you reach 10-15%. However, since puff additive dilutes the plastisol ink, expect a lighter shade of your ink. Also, remember not to over-cure your puff additive, or it will deflate, resulting in damaged shirts. Before printing it to your shirts, do a test print and curing.
Puff embossing needs a special machine to cure it. For a crafter, a flash dryer is enough. This particular flash dryer has a drying area of 18x24 inches and can reach up to 660oF. The heating tubes underneath it promises even drying of your screen printed shirts for an excellent quality finish every time.
You can use this heat press machine with a hover mechanism if you don’t have a flash dryer. Let the upper part of the press hover over the t-shirt, allowing the heating panel to cure the plastisol ink.
Monitor your heating tool during the curing operation with a thermal gun. This battery-operated infrared thermometer is not for taking human temperature. It has a temperature range from -58oF to1022oF, and you can switch it from Fahrenheit to Celcius at the press of a button.
Embossed Painting on Fabric
Aside from textile printing, you can also try painting on your fabric (t-shirt, jeans, tote bags, throw pillows) to express your passion for art and make your apparel stand out with home embossing hacks.
Mix clear with white or colored textile ink or white embossing powder with white textile ink. When treated with heat, the embossing powder in ink melts to achieve an embossed effect on your clothing article.
This water-based textile ink has a good body because of the lesser water component compared with other water-based textile ink. It flows beautifully on silkscreen and smoothly glides when applied with a paintbrush.
We recommend going the safer route for newbies and using water-based ink to do embossed painting on fabric. Mix well to avoid a clumpy effect.
Use the pearlescent textile paint or fabric marker to add color to your embossed painting on your t-shirt or tote bag. It is best to have a print of your design when you’re painting it over so you can see the result of your painting.
If you’re comfortable using a paintbrush, you can use the pearlescent paint. However, if you’re a newbie and want more control over your finished painting, use the fabric marker. The fine and the chisel tips of your marker give you enough freedom with coloring.
Nylon paintbrushes work best with textile paint. Don’t attempt using natural hair paintbrushes because the paint will destroy the brushes. Instead, use this to apply your pearlescent paint to your embossed painting.
You can also try this puffy fabric paint to apply directly to fabric with its nozzle applicator. However, you can use a 110 mesh silkscreen to achieve embossed printing. Melt it with a clothes iron hovering over the paint or an embossing heat gun.
Use a regular flat iron, no steam necessary, to iron the reverse side of the embossed painting to activate the embossing ingredient of the puffy paint.
How to Emboss on Fabric
Faux fabric embossing mimics original fabric embossing without expensive machines. It makes use of puffy ink additive to plastisol ink. The finished design gives the shirt a 3D look for a tone-on-tone print, one of the most sought-after designs flaunting the less-is-more design concept.
Stay away from intricate designs to achieve the best result. Also, use only thick fabrics like fleece.
Things You’ll Need
- Hover-type embossing machine
- Pre-coated emulsion sheets
- Inkjet transparency film
- Plastisol ink
- Puffy ink additive
- Thermal gun
- Fleece hoodie
- Print your design on inkjet transparency film. Choose a design that’s simple and defined.
- Prepare a pre-coated emulsion sheet, following the manufacturer’s direction. You can also use a ready-to-use stencil for t-shirt printing.
- Once the screen is ready, put some masking tape around it, covering the edges of the frame to prevent ink from seeping out.
- Put cardboard inside the shirt to catch any ink from bleeding to the other side of the shirt.
- Mix 10-15% of puffy ink additive to your plastisol ink. Use a small container to hold the inks, then mix them well to incorporate the puffy additive.
- Preheat your embossing machine to the ink’s suggested temperature.
- Position the silkscreen, stencil side down on the shirt, and spoon some ink mixture on the top of it.
- Hold the silkscreen down and press the squeegee from the top of the screen, sweeping the ink as you go.
- If you need more ink, place some on the screen where you need it, then scrape it down toward you.
- Carefully remove the silkscreen and wash it under running water.
- Heat the shirt for 10-20 seconds while constantly checking the temperature on the shirt with a thermal gun. Let the heating part of the machine hover over the t-shirt like a flash dryer so it does not push the embossing down.
Metal Embossing Tools & Supplies
Metal embossing is more intricate and focused on details compared to paper and leather embossing, so you need the best tools and products you can get to give your embossed metal an excellent finish.
A wooden clipboard is the most convenient wooden base you can find that’s sturdy enough to support all the metal embossing you’d do but thin enough so it won’t obstruct your movement during the embossing process.
You’ll need two kinds of rubber mats for various embossing depths. The soft rubber mat is thinner and used to soften the hard surface of your wooden board and paper pad. You also need a thick rubber mat that lets you make deeper impressions on your metal sheet.
The mats need to be smooth and without any imperfections on both sides. The mats we have here are more extensive, but you can always cut them to size and keep the rest for smaller projects.
You don’t need to buy a paper pad, but any print paper you have is good enough. Use 5 or 6 sheets to use as a buffer between the soft rubber mat and the wooden clipboard.
Stay away from creased and crumpled paper. If you can see impressions on it, you can change it so those impressions won’t affect the finish of your metal embossing projects.
This metal embossing toolset includes a texture wheel, precision points of several sizes, and a silicone tip. You can use the other end of the embossing tools to deepen, highlight, or smooth out the impressions.
Texture wheels are an easy solution to borders and crimping your metal embossing. It comes in different designs, as you can see here.
We can’t find similar tools on Amazon, but online craft shops offer several of these, sometimes in a set. You can find a herringbone, straight horizontal, diamond, wavy serrated, and plain wavy from our example above.
Other available designs are dotted, straight lines, and narrow diamonds.
The brass brush makes more targeted burnishing on your metal embossing to give it a distressed patina finish. It can also hide unwanted marks on your project or give it a soft satin finish.
Ball and Cup Tool
The cup and needle tools come in coordinating sizes to turn a simple dome into a rivet effect by simply embossing a dome and then placing the cup around it to make a depression around it.
Touch the ball on top of the dome to depress it to give it a rivet effect. On its own, the cup makes crisp circles on your metal sheet.
We have two types of needle tools for metal embossing, and each has a different purpose. The 4-needle tool makes four score lines on your metal sheet and can make lovely weave patterns.
It is best to use it on the pad paper over the wooden mat, skipping the rubber sheet, to lessen tearing. The purpose of the one-needle tool, on the other hand, is precisely to cut, especially in inlay designs.
The paper stumps deepens the embossed effect on your metal sheet. You can cut the tip of the new stump and buff it on a sanding block to soften its stump.
The most commonly used sizes for metal embossing are #4, #5, and #6 because they have a more natural size (about or larger than a regular pen) for lesser hand fatigue.
Finding the right type and thickness of metal sheets is essential. Metal embossers recommend using gauge 32-40 aluminum craft sheet, copper craft sheet, brass metal sheet, or pewter metal craft sheet.
They are the best metal sheets for embossing because they are highly malleable. However, each of them has different characteristics, especially when finishing the embossed project.
Aluminum craft sheets are the most common and also the most affordable. You can even upcycle soda cans into embossed metal art. It is best to use at least a gauge 36 aluminum metal sheet for embossing.
Embossed copper and brass metal sheets make lovely pendants, earrings, and bracelets. Each has its distinctive colors.
However, it quickly tarnishes, so it needs careful maintenance and cleaning. These sheets are very affordable, making them good choices for fashion jewelry and embossed metal art.
Pewter is a pliable and malleable metal from tin, antimony, and copper, and it has a lovely bluish-white finish. Aside from kitchen utensils, jewelry, and accessories, it is also an important building material used in many metal applications in lighting fixtures and furniture.
Metal crafters sometimes use a brayer to initially transfer an intricate design to the metal sheet by pressing over it.
Stencils like this mandala design make great patterns for your embossed metals, especially if you're planning to use them as a metal art piece at home or as gifts. Pewter boxes designed with these square mandala patterns are perfect as jewelry boxes, tissue holders, pen organizers, and even decorative tiles.
Adding lubricant to your paper stump during embossing eases your work and lessens the wear and friction on your embossed metal. Be sure to remove the grease well with rubbing alcohol before you add any finishing.
The painter’s tape is an affordable way to hold your design in place while transferring the pattern to your metal sheet. You may use masking tape; however, it leaves more adhesive behind that may be hard to remove.
Apply the black marker or acrylic paint, then wipe it off with a dry paper towel. The ink that remains in the deeper crevices gives your embossed metal a faux patina look.
Alcohol inks are affordable and easy-to-use inks to add color to your metal jewelry. They dry quickly and adhere well to your base paint. Don’t forget to seal them with clear water-based lacquer for longevity.
Another way to add an aged look to your embossed metal sheet is to buff some of the raised parts with a sanding block. Buffing gives your embossed metal a soft gleam for more definition and character to your project. You can also use a nail buffer if you want smaller blocks.
The rubbing alcohol removes all traces of grease, dust, and other foreign bodies out of your embossed pewter.
Finish the cleaning process by wiping the embossed surface off with a dry paper towel to remove all other chemicals. Cleaning is a crucial step before adding any finishing touches to your embossed metal sheet.
Metal Embossed Backing Paste
The backing paste fills the back of the embossed metal, so it maintains its shape, especially if you want it to last. For 3D embossed metal, you will need to apply a lot more backing paste to fill up the back.
Jax Black Pewter is a corrosive substance that gives a blackened and aged look to your embossed pewter art. Always protect your hands by using rubber gloves and apply them with a paintbrush. Wipe off the excess chemical and seal your finished art with a clear lacquer to prevent tarnishing and further corrosion.
The Birchwood Casey Brass Black Metal Finish induces aging to your copper, brass, or bronze art to give it a patina look. It has the same corrosive property as the Jax Pewter Black, so handle it with care. Apply with a brush and remove all excess substances with a clean cloth.
The Nevr-Dull Wadding Polish gives your aged pewter, copper, brass, and bronze a polished finish and protects them from further corrosion. It is non-abrasive and gives a gentle finish to your metals. Clean off the blackening substance on your metal embossed art before polishing it.
After giving your embossed metal a patina finish and polishing it, you can add patina paint for metal to accentuate your designs. This paint set is a permanent, fast-drying paint, and you can apply it just as you would any other paint. Let it dry before applying clear lacquer.
Finish your aged embossed metals by spraying them with clear lacquer. It will effectively stop the corrosion process further to lengthen the life of your antiquated metals. If you don't apply a clear lacquer to it, the embossed surface will tarnish again, and the corrosion process will continue.
You can use double-sided adhesive to mount your embossed art on its wooden or metal backing.
Make sure that you have already applied metal embossing backing paste to the back of your embossed metal before adding double-sided tape to it for mounting.
Next, cut enough adhesive from the roll, so all surfaces of the back have an adhesive. Doing this ensures that your embossed metal stays on when you mount it.
How to Emboss on Metal
Make a lovely Game of Thrones treasure box with this embossed metal sheet that you can make with either pewter or copper sheet. If you decide to use pewter, check out the section about aging your embossed pewter and protecting it from corrosion. You can also try relief embossing directly on aluminum, copper, or pewter sheets.
Things You’ll Need
- Wooden clipboard
- Pewter sheet or copper craft sheet
- Paper pad
- Paper stump
- Teflon-tipped embossing tool
- Painter’s tape
- Sanding block
- Mandala stencil
- Tape the stencil over the colored part of your color-coated aluminum sheet.
- Transfer the design to the aluminum sheet using a pencil. The graphite on the pencil helps lessen the friction between the embossing stylus and the aluminum sheet.
- Turn your aluminum sheet over, and transfer it to your wooden clipboard.
- Fill in the design using the paper stump and define the outline with a Teflon-tipped embossing tool.
- Check the design before lifting the stencil without removing it altogether to see if you missed some spots. Touch up if needed.
- Sand the embossed pattern using the sanding block.
Embossing with a Die-Cutting Machine Tools & Supplies
You probably love die-cutting more than embossing because you love watching your scrapbook pages grow with those cute designs.
However, that doesn't mean you can't emboss with an embossing machine and die. You have more freedom with dies in terms of design since you can swap them around to mix and match, so no two designs are the same.
Cricut is a beast in making stencils, die cuts, and almost anything imaginable. It has lots of models with different capabilities, depending on the tools that you use on it. It uses a fine-point blade for die-cutting, but you can emboss directly to your cardstock by swapping the blade with a scoring tool. You can find several Youtube tutorials.
If you’re serious with the Cricut Explore Air 2, you might love having this Cricut 11-in-1 book by Emily Maker. It includes all the hacks and tips you need to learn about the Cricut Explore Air and how to make money with your fantastic machine. You can also get it free on Kindle Unlimited.
On the other hand, Cricut Joy does not have an embossing/scoring capability, but a simple hack can do the trick. What we love about this machine is its portability. Any crafter can bring this to a crafter's camp or even bring it home to give your mom a taste of crafting.
The right Cricut mat is one of the secrets to successful Cricut embossing. Each mat has a different tackiness, depending on the project.
For embossing and debossing projects, you can use the green Cricut StandardGrip Cutting Mat. This all-purpose mat with a medium grip is enough to hold your cardstock in place during the embossing process.
This set is a two-in-one debossing toolset and a bonus engraving tool, but you can also buy each item individually. It typically has the #21 near the tip of the debossing tool and has a ceramic roller ball at the end to emboss smoothly. Mirror your design so that you get the embossed image.
The Sizzix Big Shot Starter set comes with cutting dies, a multipurpose platform, and a pair of cutting pads. If you have this machine in your crafting shop and lots of other dies, you don’t need to buy embossing folders to emboss your cards.
When embossing with dies using the Sizzix Big Shot, use the Sizzix Impressions pad instead of the upper regular cutting pad. This pad absorbs pressure from the machine so that while the device can press firmly on the die, it doesn't cut through the cardstock.
The rubber embossing mat further absorbs the pressure from the machine to prevent the die from cutting through. This pack also comes with a magnetic shim, so you can skip using washi tape when cutting with dies.
Cutting dies also make good embossed patterns on cardstocks if you know how to use these dies. Besides, the dies give you more freedom to customize your designs. Cutting die sets range within the same price as embossing folders, depending on the brand and design.
How to Emboss with Die-Cutting Machines
We have the perfect hack for you for dry embossing. You must remember, though, to use only thin dies when embossing. Otherwise, a thicker die will cut through the card piece.
Things You’ll Need
- To set up your card piece for embossing with a die-cut, use your platform and one cutting pad instead of two.
- Put the cutting die on top of the cutting pad, cutting side up, and arrange the card piece over it. You can tape the die and the paper together to prevent the die from moving during embossing.
- Top it with a thin rubber embossing mat and the impressions board. The rubber mat absorbs the pressure during the rolling, so the dies don't cut through it.
- Run through your embossing machine.
If you have not tried embossing yet, now is your chance to try it out. We hope that this article has helped answer any questions about embossing and given you some inspiration on how to get started. Contact us if we can be of assistance in helping you decide which products or techniques would work best for your project!
Do you see yourself dabbling in other media to emboss soon? Share with us your creations by leaving your comment and an image of your finished art piece. Happy crafting, everyone!