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Hope everyone's enjoying the holiday break. I got an embossing gift set from Michaels that includes a heat/embossing tool but am not quite sure how to use it. I've seen really amazing stuff done with embossing and heat tools and would love to give it a try but want to make sure I don't end up burning stuff or ruining my stamps. I've got a lot of newbie questions I hope someone can help me out with.
I'm a bit nervous because nowhere on the tool does it tell me how hot it can get and I really don't want to ruin the dining room table. The instructions refer to it as a ZAP heat gun and it says it uses 120V, 340W. I've got a nonstick oven liner heat resistant to 500 degrees F. Would that be enough protection? Or should I put a cookie tray on the work surface also?
How close do I point the heat tool to the paper, for how long, and am I constantly moving the tool around? How do I know that it's embossed? Is there such a thing as being partially embossed and the powder coming off?
I've also seen suggestions to hold the heat tool underneath the paper. In that method, do I need to worry about setting the ceiling on fire? (please forgive me for the silly question!)
Do I have to use cardstock or can I emboss on copy paper? I've looked around and get a little scared when people say they've managed to scorch their paper.
When you use the embossing pad on the stamps, how do you get the stuff off, ie clean it? I used it once for another purpose and tried baby wipes but still get a tacky feel to the stamps. Or is this ok?
Any other helpful hints would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.
Different brands of embossing tools heat to different temps, but all are hot enough to burn you or ruin your table surface. So to protect your table, cut a piece of corrugated cardboard from an old box. I think somewhere about 6" x 9" to 8" x 10" is a good size. Cover with aluminum foil from the kitchen. You can tape the foil in place on the back. The corrugated cardboard is thick enough to protect your table and the foil reflects the heat up to the back of your cardstock.
Hold the tip of the heat tool several inches away from the cardstock. You're right, if you keep the heat on one spot too long, you can scorch the paper and even overheat the embossing powder. That said, you don't need to wave the heat tool around like it was a hair dryer. LoL. Hold the heat in one spot briefly then move to another spot until you've worked your way around the image. Go back and reheat any areas that didn't get completely melted the first time.
My particular heat tool creates a "ring of heat" with a "cool center." In other words, the powder directly under the tip of the tool doesn't melt as fast as the area around the center of the tip. (Hope that makes sense.) As you use your heat tool, you'll learn where it's hot spot is.
Embossing powder can be over-cooked and under-cooked. You can tell the embossing powder is melted when it becomes shiny. Stop then. Powder that has not been heated enough will flake off. (Note: there are some exceptions to the above. Ranger's Distress embossing powders are designed to to partially flake off after heating. And some really glittery powders never get a very shiny look.)
Some people do heat from underneath or start underneath and as the powder starts melting move to the top. They do this to keep the embossing powder from blowing off the paper. I don't bother unless I'm concerned that I didn't get enough ink to adequately hold the powder. I do turn my tool on (and aim it at my aluminum covered embossing pad) for a few seconds to heat up before I start heating the image.
As for cleaning the ink off of the stamps, any good stamp cleaner will work. StampinUp, Ranger, Judikins and other companies make good cleaners. Or you can make your own. I use 1 tablespoon baby wash, 1 tablespoon baby oil and 1 cup of distilled water. (NOT tap water.) Put in a spray bottle and shake well before each use. Lightly spray the stamp and rub on a stamp scrubber pad, washcloth or a paint pad refill.
I'm not sure about embossing on text weight paper such a copy paper since I've never tried it. Perhaps someone else can address that issue.
With practice, you'll learn that just right sweet spot between too much and too little heat. HTH. Good luck.
Hi. Welcome to some embossing fun!! I think heat embossing is always one of the 'magical' techniques that adds a 'wow' factor to whatever it is that you're making.
Solid advice from Dea. Two things I can add:
1. I clean versamark from my stamps (rubber and clear) with baby wipes all of the time, so I'm not sure why your stamps aren't 'coming clean' - maybe just a little more elbow grease since the ink is thicker?
2. Your embossing kit is new so you should have years before this one becomes an issue, but keep in mind that sometimes when embossing powder gets old, it no longer embosses/melts. I just found this out w/in the last year myself and this was a shocker - I thought all embossing powders had an infinite shelf life, but some may not. Just thought this one was worth a mention so years down the road you're not scratching your head wondering why your embossing powder isn't melting.
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Last edited by QueenOfInkland; 12-28-2013 at 10:01 PM..
Awesome advice you've had so far- SCS'ers are the best! I put a kitchen chopping board on my desk to heat emboss over, as Dea said, your heat gun will ruin any table top, even through a heat proof mat. I've heat embossed on all sorts of paper/card- I'd say just try a test print on the type of paper you want to use. Heating from above/below really is just personal preference, as Dea said. I know some people will only heat from below, I always work from above, UNLESS I'm using one of those glittery powders Dea mentioned. They never seem to stick as well as ordinary ep, and do tend to blow around.
One thing to add to your arsenal of embossing tools( I expect an embossing buddy type thing is in your kit), is a small fine pointed paintbrush to brush away any stray specks of embossing powder before you heat.
If you don't have the embossing buddy, its just a small cloth bag, filled with either talc or fullers earth, or cornstarch, that you run over the card/paper before you start stamping & adding ep- it helps it to not stick where theres no ink. You can make your own using a small cotton sock with one of the above ingredients in, or some recommend used tumble drier sheets. I also find the anti-static microfibre cloths work well.
I almost always only ever use baby wipes for stamp cleaning, and mine are fine- some embossing inks are quite thick & sticky, but it wont cause you any problems. In fact, you can ink over a stamp with a clear embossing ink, then add a coloured dye ink on top, so you can have an image stamped in a colour, then use clear detail ep on top! Its a cheaper option than buying many pigment ink pads. Also, often you will come across the general rule that pigment inks are for embossing, and that dye inks wont work. Thats not strictly true any more, as some dye inks, especially Ranger/Tin Holtz ones, I find plenty wet enough to hold embossing powder. It also depends on your cardstock- some will absorb the ink faster than others.
So mainly, just have fun, play with your inks, and see what results you get!
I use a piece of cork to protect my work surface. They are sold from IKEA as trivets in a pack of four, and I use the other 3 as actual trivets. Lots of places sell cork boards for use as message boards, and they would work just as well.
I like to heat from the top, so I can easily see when the powder melts.
With practice, you'll get the hang of it.
aka Sue. Or Sue-odd.
No blog for me. My gallery chronicles my card-making successes and mishaps.
Copy Paper - I doubt you will like the results. Copy paper will probably buckle/warp. It's best to use cardstock or heavier weight paper.
Some cardstock will change color when heat is applied. It's not anything you can prevent other than buying quality cardstock.
Not all embossing powders will be shiny once embossed. Distress embossing powder or matte EP have a dull look. With non-distress powders they are shiny when melted and if you over heat, the EP looses it's gloss.
Be sure to shake the closed jar of EP before dumping on your stamped image. The EP settles so you want to make sure it's mixed well.
Sometimes it's easier if you can watch someone doing it - here's a link to a video tutorial on StampTV:
One additional thing that I do is I usually run the heat gun for just a minute or so not pointed at the image, to give it a chance to heat up. When I don't preheat the gun, I am much more likely to scorch my paper.
And one last hint - don't think that you will emboss on the floor to protect your table top. Your heat gun does get hot enough to melt carpet.
Location: along the bluffs of the Upper Mississippi River
I also heat up my gun by letting it run for about 10 seconds. I always hold my card stock in my hand, and have never been burned. Maybe my gun does not heat up as much as some, so be careful!
My heat gun is from Hobby Lobby or Micheal's. Maybe holding it is not great advise, but I have never had a problem. I never lay it on the table.
I have used tongs or tweezers at workshops. I have had an off brand embossing powder get old. My Stampin Up EP seems to last forever. I also use baby wipes to wipe off versa mark, my stamps will be a tad bit sticky, but it never a problem the next time I stamp with ink.
All I want is the chance to prove money won't make me happy!
Don't be afraid of embossing. It is wonderful! I don't have anything down to protect my surface because I hold the piece. If it is a small piece, I just use tweezers. And I always run the tool for ten seconds or more to allow it to heat up. My tool has a metal wire stand, so when I'm done, I just sit it on the table until it's cool enough to put it away. Enjoy!
Location: Ohio, trying to get Scarlet out of the dryer
Embossing is one of my favorite techniques and I am always wowed when it melts. You have gotten some great advice and I have one more to add. Your heat gun will be hot after you have used it especially if you are embossing several things at once DO NOT hold it between your legs after you have turned it off especially while wearing shorts. A painful burn will be yours, just ask me how I know and not once, but twice, seems I am a slow learner at times.
I also love embossing. My stamping space is limited so I do it the bathroom on the counter. I have a jelly roll pan that I have dedicated to embossing, so I put that on the counter. Then a non stick craft mat that is at least 10 years old. I have the older purple heat gun which I think is hotter than current models. I let that heat up for about 10 seconds. If I need to hold the paper down, I use the business end of an unsharpened pencil. When I am done embossing I turn off the gun and most importantly, UNPLUG IT. I'm kind of a safety nut but I've read postings here of people who have left their guns plugged in and somehow the switch gets turned on. I let the gun cool completely before putting it away.
Embossing is easy yet so elegant. People are really impressed by it and I think it's beautiful.
I have read some wonderful advice on this thread. You will not have a problem if you keep the heat gun moving. Holding it in one spot is the problem and that will cause scorching. I have even held the work in my hand without an issue and most likely I haven't heard of anyone burning a table. A craft mat may make you more comfortable or even an oven mat.
As far as stamp cleaning, I quit doing any cleaning years ago on the advice of a friend and several instructors including Tim Holtz. He is adamant about not cleaning even when using his stamps. The chemicals in everything is worse than any ink you will use. The exception would be if using a stamp typically stamped in black and now want to use yellow. In that case I will run the stamp under water only. The ink that accumulates on the stamp actually makes them stamp better and I saved a ton of money on cleaners that were not necessary. As an example I wrote to Judikins to ask about their cleaner and asked for an MSDS sheet. I received no reply leading me to believe Tim was right. It is a solvent based cleaner and unsafe for rubber. The baby wipes are ok for the rubber but can leave an oily residue. Staining is no problem at all.
...As far as stamp cleaning, I quit doing any cleaning years ago on the advice of a friend and several instructors including Tim Holtz. He is adamant about not cleaning even when using his stamps. The chemicals in everything is worse than any ink you will use. The exception would be if using a stamp typically stamped in black and now want to use yellow. In that case I will run the stamp under water only. The ink that accumulates on the stamp actually makes them stamp better and I saved a ton of money on cleaners that were not necessary. As an example I wrote to Judikins to ask about their cleaner and asked for an MSDS sheet. I received no reply leading me to believe Tim was right. It is a solvent based cleaner and unsafe for rubber. The baby wipes are ok for the rubber but can leave an oily residue. Staining is no problem at all.
So have fun with your embossing!
I'm another fan of not-cleaning stamps I learned in one of Tim's classes. When I get a new clear (poly) stamp the first thing I do is stain it black StazOn. It helps me to see the actual outline of the stamp and they stamp better. When I do clean a stamp I use the homemade stamp cleaner or Huggies sensitive baby wipes as they don't leave a residue.