seaasonal, unmounted, rubberstampsEmbossing Exploration
seaasonal, unmounted, rubberstamps

gg designs Gazette, June 2012

Sometimes embossing can add just the right "finishing touch." Sometimes it is the card or project.
We are going to start with "Less is More" and begin with very simple additions. Where you go from there will be up to you  as we gather help and inspiration from Gazette followers who share their  experience and expertise.

We will focus primarily on dry embossing. Though we will follow this "thread" wherever it takes us. There are many forms of dry embossing, many techniques and many tools. We will concentrate on what seems most important to participants and, as this exploration progresses let us know about your experiences and what you want to know and please, share your successes and frustrations.


Embossing shows a raised surface. In debossing the details are "indented" into the surface of your project. They can both be used on the same project for interesting effects.

As we work, no, make that play with these techniques you will see similarities to "rubbings," Pergamano (which takes embossing to a whole new level), metal tooling, plus other techniques. You will also see how few tools you really need and how many you may end up wanting!!!

For Starters....

Embossing tools......come in many sizes and styles.

As you work with them, you will find your favorite. This depends largely on the size of the embossing, the paper and the pressure you exert on the tool.

You will even find your bone folder useful.

However....if you do not have any of these tools and do not wish to purchase them until you find out how you like embossing and how much of it you think you might incorporate.....there are acceptable substitutes for this "testing" period.

As you can see, knitting needles, an empty ball point pen, crochet hooks of varying sizes, a sharpened wooden dowel and even, when used carefully, the back of an exacto knife all can be used successfully for simple embossing.

For Starters.....

This simple frame can be accomplished in several ways.

Good, strong, crisp creases can be made using a score board but can also be accomplished by printing or drawing your guidlines on tracing paper. reversing the image and working from the back using your tool of choice to score the frame. Two different size embossing tools create a nice effect.

Be sure the tool is not too small. Smaller tools give nice, fine lines but can tear rather than crease the paper if too much pressure is applied.

Often this simple effect is all that is needed.


<<<< It is very difficult to see the embossing in progress here....but that's one of the wonders of is very subtle but very appealing.

Never famous for leaving well enough alone, ggd goes a step further.

Using a "score board" (more about these "optional extra" tools later) makes adding the additional "stripes" easy. However, the same thing can be accomplished using a template, an embossing tool, a straight edge.....a ruler or a triangle, transparent or opaque.....and a piece of fun foam underneath the card.

ggd prefers using a metal ruler. Sometimes it is more difficult to see where the embossing line is being made due to a "shadow" cast by the transparent tool.
Metal rulers usually have a cork backing that keeps them from slipping.

A word about light boxes. Traditionally light boxes have been used to help with the embossing placement and execution. However, ggd finds staring into a light box unpleasant and only uses one for very detailed designs. It also requires "unearthing" the light box from the stash of  "stuff" that manages to find itself on top of it and this at times impedes finishing a project. (We'll talk studio organization at a later date!)

Test to make sure your paper doesn't stain.

Rubbing wax paper over the surface of your paper will help the stylus move smoother without digging in to the paper.

Pergamano suppliers and other companies offer special products for this purpose but for most applications the wax paper works just fine.


These designs are certainly simple enough for you to make your own but feel free to download and print them to try dry embossing.


Using a "score board" (more about these "optional extra" tools later) makes adding the additional "stripes" easy.

As is the "more about."

While a board for scoring is not essential to dry embossing, it certainly makes many of the chores much easier and faster.

Fab (Arlene Faber) mentioned using a Fiskars paper cutter (with scoring blade.) In an Amazon search (ggd's first "go to" place for price comparison and customer evaluation) we were unable to determine the specific cutter Fab uses.

Fab.....could we have a picture?

But we did find other versions of scoring boards.

We personally have the Martha Stewart version but there are many, many others.

Three from Amazon are:

Crafter's Companion
Martha Stewart

Prices range from $14.99 to $29.99. All have slightly different features.

You might like to read some of the customer comments and ratings if  you are interested in purchasing one. Clicking on the picture will take you to the listing.

ggd particularly likes that the "parts" in the Martha Stewart version are stored in compartments so they don't get lost or misplaced. That feature may be included in the other brands shown, we are not sure.

Also...we did not buy this "gadget" for embossing or scoring....that was just a "perk." Initially we purchased it to make matching envelopes for special cards and mailings, the purpose for which we still use it the most.

Not an Amazon fan? Click on the image below to try a Google search for other stores and versions.

Like your score board better? Let us all know and we'll include your recommendation here.


Dry embossing (also known as relief embossing) can be a DIY project or you can use commercially available brass or plastic stencils or one of the many, many embossing "folders" available under names such as: Cuttlebug, Quickkutz, Darice and Sizzix. The folders are designed to be used with specialty die-cut/embossing machines like the Big Kick, Tim Holtz 's Vagabond and Cuttlebug. (These are just a few, there are many others.)

But.....did you can use the folders without the machines?

It's not as fast, or as easy but....if you insert a slightly dampened piece of card stock in an embossing folder and place it under heavy weights, you will get an acceptable embossing.

Ever do any flower pressing? Almost any technique or equipment you used for pressing flowers will work with the embossing folders.

Flower Press

A flower press, heavy rolling pin, Speedball press an iron or just a heavy stack of books al will work. Dampen card stock before placing in the embossing folder. This will take some experimenting. Some heavier card stock and quality papers work well with soaking. For lighter papers a spritzing will do. Put under weight/pressure by whichever method you choose. Fun foam to cushion one or both sides of the embossing folder can be helpful.

Probably the easiest, surest method is is "doing it by hand." Spritz the folder, place the paper inside and press with your fingers all around. Open the folder carefully to "peek" to see  how deep the image is. When you are happy with it, place under some weights to let it dry.

If you have a series of cards with the same embossed image, it makes sense to use one of the specialty machines. It makes quick work of the job. But if you only are doing one card, or don't have access to a die cut/embossing machine, any of these substitutes will be fine.


The card on the left, was run, dry, through a Big Kick machine. The one on the right was done by spritzing the folder with water, placing the paper, pressing it thoroughly with fingers and then letting it dry under weights. can use the machines without the folders?

Technically this is flirting with "Collagraph Printing." But in it's simplest form is basically two layers of cardboard (yes, cereal box cardboard will do!) glued together, (covered with ModgePodge or some other medium or sealer to make it waterproof) and run through your die cut/embossing machine.

Chipboard was attached wth white glue to a slightly heavier cardboard. When it was dry, it was sprayed with fixatiff (on both sides) for extra protection and durability.

Can you tell ggd is very fond of the three "R's"? Re-use, Re-cycle, Re-purpose (Re-claim, re-pair and re-visit come along here too.)

For this reason, we are concentrating on "found" objects for adding texture. For this section we will need everyone's help.

Look around, test,!

Send us samples of the unusual items (or ordinary items used in unusual new ways) you find for making textures to use in your card/print making.

Try embossing ordinary things you find around the house....fabrics, grocery bags (the net kind for produce), bubble wrap, corrugated cardboard. Try embossing....or, if it's quicker, print with the items. It will give you an idea of what the embossing might look like.

The hardware store is a treasure trove of materials for embossing.

Artist/Printmaker Lisa Magruder used a piece of plexiglass from a ceiling light fixture for this texture.

The top is the EMbossed side and below
is the DEbossed side.

She also printed the texture by inking the glass and running it through an etching press. The results were amazing. You'll see samples when we discuss "Letterpress".....or, as ggd thinks of it (we're old) faux Letterpress.

Just as making your own embossing plates leads toward collagraph printing, inking and embossing together leans toward letterpress techniques.  Can you see where all this is going?   : )   It's hard to stay with one approach when there is such natural overlap/progression.

<<<Cord like this wrapped around a piece of chipboard netted this texture....

We would love to share your discoveries......please show us "your stuff!"

We are not through with embossing just yet. But we need your pictures, your experiments. Join us!
And check back for the "next installment."

See you and your work soon.


Note: ggd's middle of the night guilty pleasure is You Tube browsing. There are literally hundreds of embossing "how to's" to be found. If you have the time (and don't need to sleep!) it is a great way to learn new techniques. However, the better produced videos are often thinly veiled advertisements and others, while well meaning, are poorly presented with bad sound, camera angles that confuse rather than clarify and unfocused presentation.
When we find really good, helpful ones we will share the links with you here otherwise we will attempt to distill  the information and pass it along to you.
We Are Finishing June's Dry Embossing Exploration but will continue to add information to the "Tutorial" whenever you send in samples. No time limit. We'd love to gather many samples (and your directions) to make the compilation more helpful to folks who "happen" upon it while browsing.

Everything Old Is New Again! Impressing (embossing???) designs into velvet is an old, old technique resurrected and perfected by Mary O'Neil of Hot Potatoes. ggd first saw the technique demonstrated on the Carol Duval show many years ago and then heard about it from customers all over the country. Virtually every stamping group/class had a version.

And no wonder! It's spectacular, easy and great fun. Though ggd gave up ironing with the advent of permanent press (or permanent wrinkle, as some like to call it) the iron still has it's place as a crafts tool! 

For this technique, all that is necessary is a bold stamp, (in this case ggd's"three leaves") a piece of velvet* and your trusty iron.
*Use cut velvet, not crushed or stretch. If using your saved scraps make a test first. You don't need the most expensive but you do need velvet, not velveteen.
Lay your stamp face up. Cover it with your piece of velvet and spritz the back until it is quite damp. Using the heat setting for your fabric (usually high--no steam) set your iron on will sizzle! Lift it straight up....don't slide it or you will "smoosh" your design. You can attach the velvet to a card but there are many other ways to use it. Makes spectacular gift wrapping, great jewelry pouches, or, when giving a gift of your hand crafted cards, consider a stationary folder or box with a coordinated velvet cover. Here is another sample, using one of ggd's tile designs. These are but two examples. With your stamps and your ideas, the possibilities are endless. Share your work with all of us. Send scans. We'll add them to the blog and the "Tutorial."

Thanks. ggd Charlotte


Here is another sample, using one of ggd's tile designs. These are but two examples.
With your stamps and your ideas, the possibilities are endless.

The "Share Your Work" Corner!!!

Michelle Morlan writes:
Wow! I have never tried this technique before, am going to go get some velvet and will post what I some up with next week. We live out in the country otherwise I would be at the store right now, velvet in hand! I love you tile stamps, gg!.............(Then, a short, very short while later)...... Okay, I couldn't wait to get to the store next week...I dug into my stash and found some nice old cashmere. My thought was that it was nice and fluffy so possibly it might be a good substitute for velvet. I really LOVE the look, and had to make a card out of it. I used gg's Poppy stamp for the velvet technique and trimmed it with pinking shears. Added some colored ppr for the bottom border, a clip art image of a girl with flowers, and a flower with a brad for the top. Made the words with a punch in the same color red. Thanks so much for posting this technique, I really needed a nice card for a very dear friend that is ill...and this might just perk her up a bit! Hugs, Michelle

Thanks Michelle for being so enthusiastic about trying the velvet embossing and adventurous enough to make the spur of the moment adaptation. It worked!

ggd LOVES the "Make Do With What You've Got!" approach.


In, just under the wire!!! (June 30)

Jennifer Willis writes:Well, I finally found the oomph to make something - this is an aluminum foil covered cereal box that I ran through an embossing folder.

I used some of the vintaj paints to color it then added a stamped dragonfly. I made two of them and glued together so the back would be finished also. Then I coated it all in diamond glaze. I hope you like it!

ggd: Turned out great!If any of you are not familiar with Diamond Glaze, (ggd uses Judikins) it does marvelous things to "finish" work, particularly paper. Gives it a wonderful high gloss which you can see in Jennifer's dragon fly charm. Thanks for joining in....and making it more fun, Jennifer. 



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