Dry embossing, sometimes also known as relief embossing or cold embossing is making a raised design on paper, card or vellum with an embossing stylus tool tracing round inside a stencil.
What you will need to get started with dry embossing:
- A light box – you will find it useful to backlight the design you are doing, without a light box it is very hard, if not impossible to see the stencil design through the paper/card.
- A set of embossing stylus tools – these are metal tools with balls on the end that press into the paper/card. Ones with comfortable grips are best as pressing down with an embossing tool for a long time can be uncomfortable if it digs into your hand.
- Heavy paper, card or vellum – heavier paper or light to medium card works best as thin paper can rip quite easily, vellum also works very well.
- Embossing stencils – these stencils are usually made from brass or silver coloured metal.
- Masking tape – to fix the stencil and paper in place, it needs to be a tape that will remove cleanly once you are finished so it’s a good idea to test the tape you intend to use first. A specialist craft masking tape designed for the job is always best.
How to dry emboss:
Place your stencil on the centre of your light box with the side of how you want the finished design to be facing down and fix it in place with a few strips of masking tape. Take care to ensure the tape does not overlap the stencil design. The particular stencil used here is a Dreamweaver Stencil – Christmas Tree.
Place your paper, card or vellum over the stencil and secure the corners and sides with more strips of masking tape. Switch on the light box so you can clearly see the stencil design behind the paper.
Then carefully trace around the inside of the stencil design with your embossing stylus tool pressing firmly but taking care not to rip the paper. Each embossing stylus tool has different sized balls on each end so choose one that best fits the size of your stencil or experiment and choose the one that creates the best effect. You can either trace just the outer edge for an embossed outline image or the whole area of each stencil piece for an entire embossed image.
Once you’ve finished carefully remove the tape and turn the card/paper over, the design you traced is now raised i.e. embossed into the paper.
You can either keep it quite simple and use the design as it is or you can colour it with Twinkling H2Os, acrylics, chalks, metallic marker pens, glitter or glitter glue. You might want to keep the stencil in place while you apply colours but you can also colour your design freehand after the stencil has been removed. Experiment with colouring the whole design in one colour or mixed colours, or you can just highlight one part of the design.
If you do use any wet colours such as paints or glitter glues make sure you clean your stencil in warm soapy water before the paint or glue dries onto the stencil.
Tip: Why not try some hand drawn designs on vellum without stencils by placing the vellum on a craft mat and pressing the embossing tool in to draw little swirls, holly leaves, stars or hearts etc. With white vellum the embossed bits turn solid white in colour which is a nice effect.
Technique guide written by Janine