How To: Heat Emboss

Today I’m sharing my “best practices” for getting great results with heat embossing.  Warning – this post is long! Feel free to bookmark this page to refer back to…perhaps there’s a tip you’ll find useful, even if you’ve heat embossed many times. 
Before you stamp, set up a heat embossing station.
Once you’ve stamped, you have a limited amount of time to get the embossing powder onto the ink and heated before the ink dries up and won’t hold the powder in place.  That time varies depending on how humid your environment is…it’s just easier to have all your supplies and tools in place beforehand.  Heat tool plugged in, embossing powder and the tools recommended below to hand will make the process enjoyable.

Embossing powder goes everywhere, despite any and all precautions you may take. You want a place that is as clear of other items as possible.  At a minimum, put down some scratch paper (I recommend our large Grid Paper).  I’ve started using a shallow, cardboard box lined with Grid Paper.  It’s easy to move on and off my work surface and seems to keep most of the powder contained.​

Put your embossing powder in another container.
Many stampers pour their embossing powder from the little pot it comes in onto their image and then pour the excess back into the little pot.  I’m here to tell you that transferring the powder into a plastic food storage container that you can hold a layer over is much easier.  Keep a spoon in the container and you’re always ready to go!

If you have to heat emboss and don’t have another container, be sure to pour the powder over a piece of paper that you’ve folded and opened again (I recommend our large Grid Paper) so that you have a nice “funnel” with which to pour back into the pot.
Use an Embossing Buddy or Anti-Static Pouch.
This little sack of powder will eliminate static and oils left from your hands that can cause embossing powder to cling where you don’t want it.  Stampin’ Up! has discontinued carrying them, but I have a few for sale at cost.
To use it, pounce the pouch onto your cardstock a few times.  On dark cardstock you’ll probably see a bit of white powder.  Wipe the pouch all over the cardstock to spread the powder.  Don’t worry if a bit of it remains on the cardstock – it won’t affect the final product.  Proceed to stamping, trying to only handle the cardstock by the edges.
Keep a small paintbrush at hand.

​Despite using an Embossing Buddy you may have stray embossing powder on your cardstock.  A small brush – cheap watercolour brushes designed for kids work a treat –  will let you clean it off.
Use the correct ink.
You need an ink that is sticky and stays wet long enough to hold the embossing powder until it’s heated.  Versamark works with any colour embossing powder.  Whisper White Craft Ink works especially well with White Stampin’ Emboss Powder.
Emboss in any colour!
Ink up your stamp with Versamark ink, and, without stamping on cardstock, ink again in your desired colour.  Then stamp on light cardstock and sprinkle with Clear Stampin’ Emboss Powder and heat to melt.  Any Versamark that transfers to your coloured stamp pad won’t do any damage at all
If your stamping isn’t good, try again.
The dreaded edge of the stamp leave an impression?  Part of the image didn’t stamp well?  The stamp moved and you’ve got a double-stamp/shadow?  Heat embossing isn’t going to fix it…try again.
Heat with the Heat Tool
Turn on the heat tool and allow it to warm up for 20-30 seconds before pointing it at your embossing powder.  Then hold the nozzle about  5 cm / 2 inches above your image and move it around slowly until all the powder has melted and turned glossy.  You want to heat the powder enough for it to melt, but not enough for the paper to scorch.  Note that Vellum buckles and scorches more easily than cardstock
Paper Snips/Take Your Pick Tool/Tweezers/Long-Nose Pliers save your fingers.
Any of these can help hold your cardstock in place while you blast it with super-hot air from your Heat Tool.  The first two anchor the cardstock to your table, while the second two allow you to hold the paper up in the air, which is helpful for the next 2 tips.
Look at your image in good light while embossing.

You need to be able to see the powder melt and become glossy all over.  It’s frustrating to believe you’re all ready to assemble your card and discover unmelted embossing powder scattered all over.

Heat from the back to prevent excessive curling.

If your cardstock seems to be curling a lot try alternating heating from the back side as well as the front.  It will make the cardstock uncurl a bit.  Vellum especially benefits from this.


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