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Heat or thermal embossing is a technique that results in a raised image. It is not to be confused with pressure embossing, which can also produce a raised image. The floral images shown in the card trio photo have been heat-embossed, resulting in raised images that can be felt and seen.
There are a few supplies required in order to create these effects. You might have guessed that a heat source is required -- you are correct! A heat tool is needed, one that has been designed to reach very high temperatures. Therefore, a hair dryer will not work for this technique. There are a variety of heat tools available, and for the most part, they are all pretty similar. Some may be a bit more powerful and others may be quieter, so determine your needs before choosing. One word of caution though, heat tools will burn, and if the tool you are using has an exposed metal nozzle as opposed to a recessed nozzle, the metal will also get extremely hot. Please use caution when heat embossing!
Other materials that you will need to begin this process are: embossing powder, embossing or pigment ink, rubber stamps and cardstock. For those who are unfamiliar with heat embossing, the response is usually, "Wow!" The procedure is relatively simple. The basic directions to heat-emboss are:
- Ink stamp with a slow-drying ink.
- Stamp the image onto cardstock.
- Apply embossing powder to the image and tap off excess.
- Apply heat with the heat tool until the powder melts.
Embossing powder is a necessity. The powder is the material that is melted with the heat tool in order to create the raised image. These powders are available in almost every color of the rainbow. There are transparent, opaque, sparkle and distress embossing powders, and don't forget the custom colors that one can create by mixing the powders.
An ink is required for the embossing powder to adhere to. Embossing inks (either clear or slightly tinted), watermark and pigments all work well for this application. Basically, they are slower-drying inks that allow for the powder to be adhered to the image before the ink dries. If using a transparent embossing powder, the color of the ink used will show through; whereas, if using an opaque powder, the ink color will be covered. Card No. 1 is an example of heat embossing with an opaque powder, this one being metallic silver.
|Card No. 1|
|Card No. 2|
|Card No. 3|
Fine-line or solid-image stamps all work with heat embossing, although different effects will be achieved. In Card No. 1, a fine-line image stamp from Hampton Art/Outlines Rubber Stamp Co. was used. This fine-line image allows for the outline of the image to be raised, leaving the inside of the image the color of the paper, or it may be colored in. Markers, chalk, glitter glue, watercolor and ink can all be used to color inside the image. The beauty of the raised image is that it helps keep the coloring contained within. A solid-image stamp will simply result in an image that is completely raised, and usually no further color will be added.
Printed and solid-color cardstock may be used with heat embossing as well as a variety of other materials such as heat-resistant transparency sheets and parchment paper or vellum. Parchment paper, which is slightly heavier than vellum, is a wonderful paper to use in conjunction with heat embossing as shown in Card No. 2. This flower image from Hero Arts was stamped onto parchment paper and then heat-embossed with white embossing powder. To create the golden glow and not interfere with the white embossed lines, the coloring has been completed on the reverse side using Tombow markers. The sentiment stamp from Penny Black Inc. was also heat-embossed with white embossing powder and then layered onto cardstock.
Using clear powder on solid-color cardstocks can create a glossy effect or tone on tone similar to a watermark, yet more dramatic. This can be equally effective on printed cardstock, allowing you to really customize the papers you work with. Many paper companies produce and sell their own versions, but why not try creating your own?
Rainbow effects can be achieved by using a few different colors of embossing powder on one image. Just stamp the image and sprinkle on one color of embossing powder at a time; tap off the excess and then heat once the image is covered. Retain the leftover embossing powder in a separate container so that you do not contaminate the original colors.
Heat embossing is a wonderful way to create resist techniques as shown in Card No. 3. This wildflower image by Hero Arts was stamped and embossed with white embossing powder. Next, various colors of Brilliance inks were applied using a sponge in a circular motion. The final step is to use a tissue or soft cloth and rub gently over the embossed image to remove any ink residue. Voila! A delicate garden is revealed.
Aside from images, heat embossing can also be used to color metal brads or create raised edges around sentiment panels. There are even pens filled with embossing ink that will help you to heat-emboss your own writing or drawing. Heat embossing is a technique that is truly timeless and one that offers an unlimited amount of possibilities. I hope if you haven't already, that you will give it a try!