Saturday, February 04, 2006

Heat Embossing vs. Dry Embossing

By Christina VanGinkel

Embossing, which refers to the art of making a raised design on an object, when in reference to a project in the arts and crafts industry, especially those crafts that revolve around paper products, is currently experiencing a revival of sorts. It is a great way to bring three dimensions to your current project.

I was introduced to dry embossing some time ago, and purchased a Fiskars ScrapBoss Embossing System, along with numerous stencils, to help me incorporate dry embossed designs into even more of my card designs and scrapbook layouts. The Fiskars ScrapBoss Embossing System is sized to accept a piece of paper, cardstock, or even thin metal sheets up to 12" x 12". The stencils it accepts are those same size or the smaller ones made for their alternative ShapeBoss System, which works in the same way as the larger system, but is limited to the stencils made for it, where as the larger system can use both. The price difference between the two systems is minimal, less than twenty dollars, so I would definitely recommend the larger one, simply because of the additional stencils you will be able to purchase for it.

The stencils come in two parts, and you simply insert the material you want to emboss between the two parts of the stencil. You then take one of the two included stylus' (they are each double tipped with different sized ends, practice helping you determine which end to choose each time), and run an outline around the interior edge of the design. When you take the material you were embossing out of between the two parts of the stencil, like magic, the design is then permanently embossed.

There is a slight learning curve using the Fiskars ScrapBoss Embossing System, but it is slight, and overall, it is easy and fun to use. I would recommend it for anyone wanting to attempt dry embossing to add some interesting designs to their layouts or cards. Stencils are available in quite a variety of themes, from baby to wedding, winter, lodge, garden, edges, Victorian, critters (bugs), and many more.

Heat Embossing uses several more materials than dry embossing, but provides a very different look from dry embossing. By using heat, embossing powder, stamps with a special pad or pen, you can create raised designs. The principles of this craft are easily learned, and as long as a few simple steps are followed, the results are easily accomplished.

You start with the material you want to create the design on, typically cardstock, and with an inkpad designed for embossing, such as a Big & Bossy Clear Embossing Pad, you simply take any stamp and transfer the image with the pad to your project. Instead of an inkpad with stamp, you can also use a pen such as a Zig Emboss Pen, perfect for writing your sentiments on a card or drawing your own designs freehand, then embossing directly onto that. While the ink is wet, you sprinkle it with an embossing powder in the color of your choice, shake off the excess, and heat with a heat tool designed for heat embossing. Several currently on the market include the Heat It Craft Tool, which looks like a small hair dryer, the Coloriser Heat Tool, which has two different heat settings, making it ideal for a wide range of heat embossing projects and other crafts such as melting shrink plastic, and the Darice Super Heat Tool with Stand.

I do not yet currently own a heat gun, but after several weeks of research am leaning towards the Colorizer Heat Tool. It runs approximately five to ten dollars more than the other heat guns I have come across, but with its two heat settings, I feel it will have a wider range of uses.

Embossing powder is manufactured by a wide range of companies, and comes in colors from pastels to bright, even metallic, providing you with an enormous amount of choices for incorporating this technique into your world of crafts.

Dry embossing and heat embossing create such two different looks, that there really is no comparison between the two, so if you are looking for some new techniques to bring to your work, either one of these, or both, are sure to do just that!

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