The Basics of Embossing

Are you new to the world of embossing? If so, you may have many questions such as:

“What is the difference between heat embossing and dry embossing?”

“What are the benefits of embossing?”

“How do I emboss my project?”

In this blog entry, I will be going over the very basics of embossing. I hope you will find the answers to your questions. Embossing is a great way to give your project that extra ‘something’ it needs. It is a great way to add texture and interest; and it makes bare/sparse areas look more finished. Embossing is very quick and easy, yet, can make a big difference in the overall look of your card, scrapbook, etc.

The two basic ways to emboss your cardstock/paper is by heat embossing and dry embossing. There are various machines on the market made for dry embossing. Personally, I own the Cuttlebug® Machine. It is a cordless machine that works by rolling your cardstock through the machine with a crank handle. Depending on the design (embossing folder) you’ve selected, you can get a large variety of different designs.

Cuttlebug® Machine – $49.99

Retail Price: $69.99
You Save: $20.00

Cuttlebug® A2 Perfectly Paisley Emboss Folder – $4.99

from: Cricut

Example of Cuttlebug (dry embossing)

Example of Cuttlebug (dry embossing) using embossing folder

The other way to emboss is by heat embossing. My husband got my starter kit for me as a gift last Christmas, and wow – I was so happy to get to try it out! Using a rubber stamp, ink it with a pigment (slow-drying) ink pad. While the ink is still wet, sprinkle your embossing powder over the image or word you just stamped. Dust off the extra powder, making sure there aren’t any specks of it left on your paper. These extra specks will stay once you apply heat – so make sure it is speck-free! You can use a small brush to get rid of them or you can lightly blow on the project (totally works just as well). In the “STEP 4” picture, you’ll notice… mine has specks! Aaargh! This was before I knew about the specks embossing in, plus it’s a little over-embossed. Oh well, just keeping it real here! I hope I’ve improved since this photo was taken… haha!! 🙂

Now, you’re ready to apply the heat. If your project is small, it might be best to use tweezers to hold your cardstock, since the heat gun blows hot air and can get pretty warm. Also, if you wear fake nails – be sure not to aim the heat gun at your hands. Using caution, keep the heat gun moving in small, circular motions over the ink and powder you’ve just placed on your cardstock. After about 10 seconds (give or take) you’ll notice the letters beginning to ‘melt’ or emboss. They will change appearance before your eyes. After all of your image or word has changed in appearance (mine goes from matte to glossy – but it all depends on your embossing powder finish), you’re done. Do not add extra heat or it will over-emboss and distort the appearance of your image or word. After you’re done, the ink/powder should be dry to the touch.

Recollections Heat Embossing Starter Kit

Recollections Heat Embossing Starter Kit

STEP 1: Stamp with pigment (slow-drying) ink

STEP 1: Stamp with pigment (slow-drying) ink

STEP 2: Sprinkle embossing powder over wet ink

STEP 2: Sprinkle embossing powder over wet ink

STEP 3: Tap excess embossing powder into tray.

STEP 3: Tap excess embossing powder into tray

STEP 4: Apply heat with heat gun. This is the finished look!

STEP 4: Apply heat with heat gun. This is the finished look! (click to enlarge)


~After dry embossing, use sandpaper over the raised (embossed) surface of your paper to take away the color and give your card a distressed look.

~To make your dry embossing stand out, you can go over the raised (embossed) area lightly with an ink pad. Additionally, you can color the raised areas in with markers, colored pencils, etc.

~When heat embossing, some crafters like to add the heat from the backside of the project to avoid over-embossing – but it’s all up to individual preference.

~It is very important to add your embossing powder immediately after you stamp your image or word. If the ink has any time at all to dry, the embossing powder will not stick, thus, the heat embossing will not turn out as well as you’d hoped.

~There are tons of great embossing ideas all over the Internet. Find inspiration and make it your own. Be creative and have fun!

Again, I hope this project was helpful. Please comment below if you have any further questions.


*FTC Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links at no additional cost to you.

5 thoughts on “The Basics of Embossing

  1. Pingback: A Beginners Basic Guide: Die Cutting 101 | Multiplicity Crafts

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