How to use embossing powder

How to use embossing powder

Creating personal gift wrap is a project that can save you time, money, and hassle during the holiday season. With a few supplies and a bit of creativity, you can create a wrap that is elegant or homey with minimal effort at a minimal cost. These two projects will show how simple it is to create custom embossed gift wrap for your family.

All of these projects will use the wet embossing technique to make a striking look on a paper background. You will need to choose a stamp to create your pattern (any material stamp will due: rubber, foam, or even potato). Then you will need a binder and embossing powder.

Your binder will either be clear embossing ink or colored “pigment” ink. Be sure that if you use colored ink it is of pure pigment. If it isn’t the embossing powder may react with the ink in an unexpected way. If you are using gold or silver embossing powder, I recommend using clear ink. Colored inks dull the finish on metallic powders.

Embossing powders are sold in small jars (one ounce or half-ounce, usually) with screw lids. They can be opaque, translucent, or clear and have as many colors and finishes as the imagination allow for. If you choose a translucent or clear powder, remember to pick an ink color that will complement it. Ask your retailer if they have a sample sheet showing how different powers look over different inks.

Your rubber stamp shouldn’t be too complex. Very detailed stamps (with cross-hatching, etc.) lose their effect when the powder expands. Letters and simple outlines are the best for wet embossing.

You will also need a heat source to melt the powder and paper to emboss on. Your heat source can be a specially purchased heat gun designed to blow high temperature air gently onto a craft, or it can be a light bulb, stove top or toaster oven. Any source will do, even a candle flame (I don’t recommend this though, because your paper could catch fire and will almost certainly be stained).

Sweet Snowflakes

For this project you will need:

  • Paper gift bags with handles (white or newsprint-brown)
  • Blue and silver pigment ink pads
  • Translucent embossing powder in blue or white (experiment with opalescent and glittery finishes)
  • One or several snowflake stamps

Wash your hands. The oils in your hands can cause the powder to stick to places other that the design. Always handle your paper by the edges.

Open your embossing powder and set it aside. When we work with wet embossing, we must work quickly. Wasting time opening the jar of powder after the binder has been set can let parts of the pattern dry un-embossed.
Press your stamp into the pigment pad. Be sure that the entire surface of the stamp is inked, and then press it onto the front of a gift bag. Do not bounce or rock the stamp, as this can create “shadows” in the pigment.

Very quickly pour embossing powder onto the wet pigment. Be sure to cover the entire area. Wait a moment for the binder to dry and collect embossing powder. Carefully pour the excess powder onto a bit of scratch paper without bending or tapping your design. If there is still excess powder clinging to your project, use a small clean paintbrush to clean up the mess. Dump the excess powder from the scratch paper back into the jar. Waste not!

Warm up your heat source. If you are using a heat gun, hold it over your project to melt the embossing powder. For any other heat source, hold the project face up over the heat. You’ve heated it enough when the surface is smooth (not grainy) and glossy. (Heat gun users: this takes about 2 seconds!) Don’t touch it! It needs to cool and harden before you can continue. IF the surface of your embossing cracks, you’ve heated it too long. If it flakes or feels grainy, it needs to be ‘cooked’ a few moments longer.

Repeat this process with both pigment colors (remembering to wipe your stamp before switching colors) until you’ve achieved a snowy field on the surface of your bag. A single snowflake on the outside of the gift card and a blue ribbon to tie the handles shut will create a wintery gift that will be remembered. Variations on this can include bright colored balloons, fall leaves, or a spray of stars.

Elegant Ivy

For this project you will need:

  • Smooth grained green paper, enough to cover your gift box.
  • Gold embossing powder
  • Clear Embossing ink
  • A stamp of an Ivy leaf, or another leaf outline.
  • A pencil to draw the center line on your pattern.

Wash your hands and open your embossing powder. Figure out where the top center of your gift will be and draw a very light line through the center point in one direction.

Working out from the center, stamp then emboss the ivy leaves in a loose pattern. Be careful with the clear embossing ink, it is easy to miss sections of your stamp.

When you’ve finished and the last leaf is cooled you can wrap your gift. A gold or ivory ribbon tied perpendicular to the leaves will draw attention to the pattern and give you something to attach a gift tag to.
This pattern can be varied with different paper colors, curve lines that wraps around a corner of the package, geometric stamps, or monograms.

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