Like mechanical or hand press embossing, dry or relief embossing is creating a raised, or depressed impression, on your scrapbook page or card. In this process, however, the impression is done with the aid of a stylus and stencil. If you don’t have, or don’t want to use stencils you can “free hand” your embossing . . . but it takes some practice to do it well.

One of the benefits of this form of embossing is being able to place it where you want on a page or card–similar to “wet” embossing, where you use rubber stamps, ink and powders heated to create your embossed image. (See “Wet Embossing” for more specific details.)

embossing stylus Scrapbook Dry or Relief Embossing MethodThe tools you will need for this form of embossing is a stylus. They often come with different sized balls on each end of the holder. Each ball size allows you to work with different paper weights. Then you will need stencils (either brass or plastic) with which to do your tracing from. light box small 150x150 Scrapbook Dry or Relief Embossing MethodAnd, last but not least, a light box (or some other back-lit source that will allow sufficient light through its hard surface . . . in a pinch you could use a window or patio door, if you have enough light coming through the glass. You might have to experiment some with this form of light source to be sure you can see the details of your stencil. If you plan to do a lot of dry embossing the investment in a good light-box will be well worth it.

The process is simple. You are going to trace around a stencil using your stylus. As you make your tracing it will push the paper or card up from the flat surface. Now that isn’t so hard is it?

Let’s be a little more specific and detailed in the procedure.

With your stencil chosen, you need to place it on the opposite side of the paper or card you are going to emboss. With the stencil positioned where you want it on the page or card, tape it down to hold it in place as you do your tracing. There are special tapes for this purpose. Using blue painter’s masking tape which has a light tackiness to it works fine. In the event you only have regular masking tape, daub it up and down on your pant leg a few times to remove some of its tackiness. You don’t want your page or card ruined with tearing paper off as you release your stencil. When you do remove the tape–any tape–do so carefully.

With your stencil securely taped in place on the back side of the page or card you are embossing–because the embossed impression will come out on the front side, you want to trace around your stencil. In essence, with your stylus you are going to push the paper or card through the stencil’s opening. As you trace your stencil using your stylus you will push the paper forward. If you turn the paper over you will see and feel a raised impression–a mirror image of your stencil. this is the embossing.

If you want your impression to be “debossed” of inverted into your paper or card follow the same process above accept you place the stencil on the front of your page or card.

Which ball on your stylus tool do you use to stencil with. That depends on the paper medium you are using. Light paper is more prone to tear if you use the smaller ball–so, use the larger one. Heavier paper and card stock will mor easily accommodate the smaller ball. Here again, you may need to experiment a little. The pressure you have to use to get your impression will have a great deal to do with which ball you can use for any project.

As you are doing your tracing, you may find the ball grabs or doesn’t move easily. To help avoid this problem–it happens to all of us–rub the ball on some wax. Wax paper works fine for this purpose. In fact, you could lay a piece of waxed paper over your stencil as you do your tracing . . . it should stop this problem. Again, the pressure you apply will also have a certain amount of affect here, but you may need to press hard to get the desired impression you are after.

Once you have completed your tracing, carefully remove your stencil. At this point you could, for a special effect, place the stencil over the newly raised impression and add some soft color to it . . . using chalk, sponge daubers with ink or paint. Be sure to clean the stencils after using them as your coloring template.

shapebossembossing 150x150 Scrapbook Dry or Relief Embossing Method

Fiskar's ShapeBoss Embossing Starter Kit

shapebossmini Scrapbook Dry or Relief Embossing Method

Fiskar's ShapeBoss Mini

cardbossembossingsystem Scrapbook Dry or Relief Embossing Method

Fiskar Card Embossing System

There are some tools on the market to help you in this paper craft process. Fiskars is one of those companies who have been devoted to specific paper craft products–relief embossing using a stylus is one of them. They have created the ShapeBoss™ Embossing System Starter Set, the Mini ShapeBoss™ and the CardBoss™ to assist you in your efforts. You can purchase these and the other tools noted above at most craft and scrapbooking supply outlets–stores, or online. See the links to two online craft suppliers.

There you have it, a simple clean process of adding a special look to your scrapbook page or greeting card. With a little practice you will easily become very proficient at it. Don’t be afraid to do some experimenting in the process. You may just find something neat that adds just that right touch to your project.

Return to Scrapbook-Embossing Page

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Ron on January 4th, 2009 | File Under Embossing | No Comments -