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Sunday, 23 September 2012

The WOW! Guide to Perfect Embossing

You will need:
  • Something to stamp onto – try card, paper, heat-proof acetate, glass, wood
  • An image stamp – clear or rubber, try to avoid very fine detailed lines or large areas of fill if you’re a beginner
  • An embossing ink 
  • Wow! Embossing Powder
  • A sheet of clean paper
  • A heat gun

Get your stamp ready.

For Wow! Clear Stamps, peel from the backing sheet, hold it in the air for a couple of seconds to allow it to relax and get back to shape.

Allow the clear stamp to lay down on the acrylic block and pat down gently with your fingers.
Place your stamp on a flat surface and ink it up using a suitable embossing ink. Press firmly and evenly, making sure the whole of the stamp is covered with ink. Frantic dabbing is not required!
Print your image onto your card stock – place the stamp face down onto the page, and hold it firm with your fingers on one side.
Press firmly, but not too hard, on the other side, before swapping hands and pressing over the whole image to transfer the ink evenly to the page.
Peel the stamp from the paper.
Place your stamped page onto a clean sheet of paper, and completely cover the stamped area with embossing powder. Don’t worry about emptying the whole jar at this stage – only a small amount will be used!
Lift up your stamped and powdered image, and pour off the excess powder onto your clean sheet of paper. Tap gently to get the last few grains off, and set aside. The powder is not set at this point, and will brush off if knocked.
Return all the unused powder back to the jar and replace the lid. Wipe up any stray bits of powder to make sure these don’t transfer to your page during the heat setting.
Preheat your heat gun for a few moments by turning it on and directing it away from you and your project – this helps predictable heat setting of the powder.

The air from the heat gun is at a temperature that will burn! Make sure the heat gun air flow is not directed toward you, and you don’t touch the pointy end. Holding the tool still for too long on one area is also a fire risk.
You can heat the powder from below, holding the tip of the gun around one to two inches from the page. Hold the gun in a vertical position. Watch for the powdery matt finish to become smooth and shiny and then move the heat to the next area. You may wish to hold the card with tweezers or a peg.
Alternatively, you can heat set from above. Start with the heat gun around 12 inches away from the powder and move slowly closer – this helps stop the air speed blowing the powder about. As above, keep the heat gun moving to a new area as the powder fuses. In this image, you can see the difference between the heat set area (shiny gold) and the unset powder stage (brownish matt).
When you have finished heat setting, make sure the pointy end of the heat gun is not in contact with anything flammable. Allow the embossed image to cool completely before handling. If you have been heating from above onto a surface, bear in mind the surface can be hot as well, particularly if you are using a glass mat.

 

TROUBLESHOOTING

I keep getting patches of powder sticking where I don’t want them to.

Though Wow! Powders and jars are designed to be anti-static, the powders will stick to finger marks, grease or anything wet. To help avoid unwanted patches try these tips:
  • Wash your hands and allow them to dry before starting to use embossing powders
  • Handle your card stock by the edges
  • Use a clean sheet of paper to catch excess powder and return it to the jar straight away (don’t use a plastic tray as these add static each time you use them)
  • Try swiping an ‘anti-static’ bag across your card before stamping – these will cover sticky bits with the enclosed powder, making it more likely that the embossing powder won’t stick anywhere it shouldn’t
  • Brush away the patches with a fine dry paintbrush before heat setting.

My embossing powder doesn’t stick in some areas of my stamped image.

This is likely to be an incomplete stamped image – there are several things to check:
  • Make sure you are stamping on a flat, stable surface
  • Make sure that you have inked the stamp evenly and don’t allow the ink to dry
  • Use firm even pressure to stamp the image, across the whole image
  • If you are still having problems, try putting a couple of sheets of paper or kitchen paper under what you’re stamping onto
  • If you use thick acrylic blocks with clear stamps, try using our thinner blocks as these allow a little more flexibility and better stamping.

Some of my powder brushes off after I have heated it.

The powder has not been properly heat set – make sure you have used the heat gun across the whole image and it all looks the same. Any area that looks dusty or matt in appearance generally has not been heat set enough.

My Wow! Clear Matt Dull looks shiny when I am heat setting it.

This is normal – once the melted powder cools, the matt finish appears.

When I use the Wow! Earthtones , Wow! Fluorescents or the Wow! Pastels, I sometimes get white flecks spoiling the colour after I have heat set the powders.

The core of these powders is white, so if they are overheated the white middles can appear as the colour pigments move on the molten surface. Try heating the powder less, or using the heat gun a little further away.

I like to use embossing powders to melt in batches and then use it in moulds. Do you have more colours in Ultra High?

You don’t have to stick to Ultra Highs – all our grades of embossing powder can be used in this way, with the finer grades having more pigment in them and melting a bit quicker due to smaller granule size. Please note that not all of our powders and glitter colours have predictable effects when melting in large quantities – please check a sample before adding to a project.

What inks are suitable for embossing with your powders?

Any slow drying ink will work well. There are specific brands of ‘embossing’ ink which are designed for the purpose. Most pigment inks are suitable, whereas dye inks are generally fast drying and unsuitable. Design Team favourites include Versamark Watermark Stamp Pads (clear), Tim Holtz Distress Inks (coloured), Perfect Medium (clear and black).

My heat gun keeps cutting out/there’s not much air coming out.

The heat gun cuts out to prevent overheating. It will reset in a few minutes. A common cause of overheating and poor air flow is a hand blocking the air vents at the top of the tool – hold the tool in the middle.


Guide prepared by Neil Burley, September 2012


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