Hot Glue Embossing

by Connie MacFarlane

Create miniature abstract art panels with watercolor paper, hot glue, embossing powder and re-inkers.


  • Watercolor paper – any kind (Daler & Rowney 90 lb. wt. used here)
  • Hot glue gun and glue sticks
  • Piercing tool or large needle
  • Heat tool
  • Embossing powder
  • Water mister
  • Ice cube
  • Dye reinkers (Ranger Distress Antique Linen, Wild Honey, Peeled Paint and Broken China inks used here)
  • Palette or something to hold your inks
  • Paint brush
  • Container of water
  • Craft mat - or other water proof surface
  • Paper towel
  • Other supplies as needed to complete card (4 1/4" x 5 1/2" card base used here)


  1. Step 1

    Cut a piece of watercolor paper to desired size (2" x 3" piece used here). Heat hot glue gun until the glue is running freely. Apply hot glue to the watercolor piece in an abstract design. Here, two lines of glue were run from right to left across the piece.

  2. Working quickly, while the glue is still soft, run the tip of a piercing tool through the hot glue to pull it into a design. Repeat this step as desired. Set the piece aside to cool.

    See Variations below for more ways to apply the hot glue.

  3. Step 2

    To emboss the piece, reheat the glue very slightly – only 3 to 4 seconds – with a heat tool. Sprinkle with embossing powder and set with a heat tool.


    While heat setting the embossing powder the glue will begin to soften and may change shape. Do not overheat the piece.

  4. Step 3

    Put a few drops of each color of dye reinker you will be using onto your palette. Place your piece onto a waterproof surface and generously spritz with water until the entire surface is wet.

  5. With a wet paint brush pick up some of the lightest ink and float it onto the piece. Continue adding ink colors, cleaning and wetting the paint brush between each color. (Ranger Antique Linen & Wild Honey used at top of piece, Peeled Paint & Broken China used on lower section here) Mist the piece with water again; the colors will move and blend.

  6. Step 4

    As the piece starts to dry you can adjust the color as desired. Add more color where needed with your ink and a wet paint brush, or remove excess water or color by very gently daubing with a paper towel where necessary. Set the piece aside and allow to completely dry. When dry use a paper towel to wipe off any ink that may be sitting on the embossing – the embossing resists the ink so will wipe off easily.

    Leave your piece on the waterproof surface until completely dry. Do not place a paper towel under it as the paper towel will absorb a lot of your color leaving a faded piece. Distress inks will retain a more vivid color; regular dye inks tend to separate out into their component colors often giving unexpected and interesting results.

  7. Step 5 (Optional)

    Cut a piece of heavy cardstock slightly smaller than your finished art piece and adhere to the back with adhesive to flatten the piece and give it stability.

  8. Step 6

    Use the panel to complete a project.

  9. Step 7

    To create a raised edge circle, place a large drop of hot glue on the watercolor paper.

  10. Press into the center of it with an ice cold, round flat surface (the sample was made using the head of a roofing nail, which was cooled by placing it head down on an ice cube). As the shape cools and contracts, press into it a second time if needed. Heat emboss as desired.

  11. Step 8

    For a wide, flat circle of glue, press down on the hot glue with the flat surface of an ice cube.

  12. Watercolor as above, and use the panel to complete a card.

  13. Step 9

    To create an abstract design hold the glue gun 4” – 6” above the watercolor piece and allow the glue to drizzle randomly. Heat emboss as desired and watercolor as above.

  14. Feature the panel on a card.


Your Turn

You've seen the tutorial, now you try it! We've got a section of the gallery set aside for Hot Glue Embossing. Try this technique, then upload your artwork to the gallery. Show us your creations!

***Please note - Internet Explorer/Edge is not a supported browser, and will not allow you to see the videos. Please use Chrome, Firefox or Safari to view our tutorial videos.

Questions and Comments

We'd love to get your feedback or questions. Leave your comment below.

COOL technique! When I find my glue gun I'd like to try it. smile Thanks for the video!
Gabby  |  Wed Oct 14, 2015 at 3:44 AM
Ooops! Forgot to mention that I think that your card is quite a nice piece of art. Love that each panel will be unique so that no two will look exactly the same. smile
Gabby  |  Wed Oct 14, 2015 at 3:47 AM
Really neat technique. I'll definitely try this glue technique.
Shirley  |  Wed Oct 14, 2015 at 3:47 AM
Beautiful art!
stampersuzz  |  Wed Oct 14, 2015 at 4:08 AM
Fabulous! Thank you for such a clear presentation, too!
Carolynn  |  Wed Oct 14, 2015 at 5:13 AM
WOW - What a really fun technique - thanks!
Kathy Stacy  |  Wed Oct 14, 2015 at 5:26 AM
I've done this on canvas and acrylic paint, never thought to do this in a smaller scale. Love your art work.
Deb  |  Wed Oct 14, 2015 at 5:56 AM
Great tutorial. Thanks for showing more than one variation! Beautiful cards.
Andi  |  Wed Oct 14, 2015 at 6:24 AM
I have seen zillions of art tutorials on YouTube, taken a hundred classes, read many books, bought DVDs, and I can honestly say this is in the top 3 for inspiration of all time. I don't do "cute" and I am always looking for techniques that make me look like an artist, tho' I have little talent, and this one is terrific. Thank you and thanks to SCS for posting it. I am heading to your site for more thrills!
Susan Myrick  |  Wed Oct 14, 2015 at 6:37 AM
Connie--excellent tutorial------so easy--looks like so much fun to design gluey portraits! Thanks for sharing!
Susanne Gleason  |  Wed Oct 14, 2015 at 6:58 AM
Extraordinary tutorial! Love your art! I can barely wait to try the technique. Love it! TFS
Sue Davis  |  Wed Oct 14, 2015 at 7:04 AM
I have a bit of a collection of colored glue sticks - some just colored and some with glitter. I would bet that I could use those and skip the embossing step, yes?
Cheryl Bettin  |  Wed Oct 14, 2015 at 7:26 AM
Thanks! Great tutorial ... looking forward to trying the technique with my Stampin' Up! reinkers. smile
Leanne Cyr  |  Wed Oct 14, 2015 at 7:30 AM
Really love this technique!!
Julie Heyer  |  Wed Oct 14, 2015 at 7:43 AM
What a fun technique....will be trying this for sure...thanks for sharing...
Gloria Westerman  |  Wed Oct 14, 2015 at 8:03 AM
You are such an artist. I came across your gold/watercolor card somewhere and fell in love with this technique - you have taken it to new heights here. Thank you for sharing your talent with us!
lydia  |  Wed Oct 14, 2015 at 8:04 AM
This is so fun!! Thanks for a great tutorial!
Lyn Tomlin  |  Wed Oct 14, 2015 at 8:20 AM
awesome video and really beautiful art cards. I will definitely be giving this a try.
Christine  |  Wed Oct 14, 2015 at 8:22 AM
This is a very cool technique. Thank you!
Kathleen  |  Wed Oct 14, 2015 at 8:53 AM
What a wonderfully fun technique. Thanks for the tutorial. I appreciate your tips and "lessons learned".
kab  |  Wed Oct 14, 2015 at 9:18 AM

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