EP Doctor

I HATE to dust, in fact, does anyone “like” it?

Let’s narrow down the dusting topic to just prepping the paper before you heat emboss.

You may be raising the ole eyebrow and saying “what are you talking about, dusting?”

Let me ask this – have you ever had stray specs of embossing powder be a pain on your project? Or maybe an image not look at crisp?

If you’re answer is yes, then maybe you need to dust your paper.

Preparing paper before heat embossing is rarely done allowing for a mixed result, sometimes good and sometimes not so good. Paper contains moisture, static and foreign particles allowing it to be variable with the environmental conditions in which it is stored and used. Since embossing powder tends to stick to anything even slightly moist or static-y, it is good to reduce either of those as much as possible.

To prepare paper, it’s as easy as brushing it with some type of drying, anti-static powder. This powder comes in a loose form that can be stored in a plastic container, shaken on the paper and lightly brushed off with a natural hair brush. The extra can go back into the container and used again.

The anti-static powder also comes in felt or cloth bags, like rosin bags that baseball pitchers use to dust their hands, that are called “Embossing Buddies” or “Anti-static Bags” from manufacturers like Stampin’ Up!,  Close to my Heart and Blockheads Paper Arts. The bag is rubbed across the page and any excess is tapped off over a trashcan. This method is a easier to control than the loose powder since it is contained in the bag. Just remember to store it in a plastic bag so that the anti-static powder doesn’t seep out all over your crafting supplies!

When the paper has been prepared, stamp and emboss as normal. The anti-static powder residue should blow off. If you’re embossing on darker papers and there is a slight residue leftover after embossing, lightly rub a slightly damp paper towel over the paper to remove any extra dust.

There you go! You’re on your way to better heat embossed images by just prepping your paper first!

 

Necessary or not?

It may depend on the type of heat tool you use.

There are 2 main types of heat tools to use for embossing out there, the mini hair dryer type with a wide nozzle and the more pointed nozzle type.

I have both and use them for different applications.

The mini hair dryer type is most widely known offered by Ranger and is called the Heat It Craft Tool. The 2 main advantages of this tool is the wide area of heat it provides AND it is very QUIET. Whenever I’m crafting at night after hours, I use this tool just for the sheer lower noise volume of it. I find it works great for drying craft items and large areas. I use this heat tool for when I’m drying Glimmer Mist or other colored sprays because the air is not directed in a small quarter sized area, but a much larger one. It doesn’t force the liquid color to go flying off the project from the movement of air, it dries in place with no splatter. The biggest disadvantage for me when using this heat tool is the inability to direct the air flow. If I’m doing regular embossing by stamping an image, I want a more directed heat flow. I find that hard to do with the mini hair dryer type and sometimes end up baking things too much or hitting things in the nearby area with the heat and melting them. Oops!

The more streamlined one is something like Marvy offers for a Heat Tool. This is the type that I use almost exclusively for heat embossing any stamped image. I have good control over the heat distribution and placement. Since the air is more focused, it doesn’t work as well over large areas that you’re trying to dry. It works great for large embossed images, just not for drying the projects.

So, where does “waving” come into this? Well, when you heat emboss an image, the tendency is to wave the heat tool over the area. I learned early on that waving is really not the right method as it tends to distribute the heat too much so that the image gets only partially melted and takes longer to emboss the whole image.

One of the most important things when embossing is to ALWAYS start with a HOT heat tool. That’s right, turn that baby on before you need it – heat it up and get it ready just like starting a car in the wintertime.!

Stamp, sprinkle the embossing powder, shake off the excess and BE STEADY using a HOT heat tool. Hold the heat tool over the area to emboss, about an inch from the paper, and wait until the powder turns glossy. IMMEDIATELY move to the next section of uncooked powder. Repeat until the whole image is heated, holding the heat tool steady and NOT waving. I think you’ll see a big difference when you try this method. I know I did.

Is there a time to wave? Sure. I find that when I need a general start to emboss, quick zap at the end of the embossing or to dry paper, waving does work quite well.

Why do we feel the need to wave the heat tool? I think it’s mostly fear of the heat. We don’t want to burn ourselves, burn the paper or overcook the powder. Those are just my guesses from my own experiences.

So, I dare you to try “no waving” and see what happens. Try it more than a couple times. Have fun and be safe.

Embossing Powder is finely ground plastic which is sensitive to temperature and moisture conditions. Knowing that, the best place to store your embossing powder is somewhere temperature controlled and dry.

I personally haven’t seen the cold affect EP, but I’ve seen the heat have an adverse effect on it. It gets a bit clumpy and doesn’t sprinkle well. Sometimes the powder may get brushed off the paper and show a shadow of color transfer from the powder itself. It’s a color residue that stains the paper and is not removed easily. I’ve had some luck using a white eraser to remove it, but depending on the color of the paper and powder, that doesn’t work 100% of the time.

Humidity and moisture have the biggest effect on EP. The problems mentioned above get way worse, fast. It makes heat embossing any image 10X more difficult and not pretty at all.

To combat embossing powder temperature and moisture intrusion, here are a some tips to limit if not eliminate the issues:

  1. keep the EP in its original container, usually a plastic screw top jar
  2. keep the jars in a drawer or shelf out of direct sunlight
  3. store in an air-conditioned environment
  4. place desiccant packs in the area of your EP jar storage
  5. remove fans or direct air flow (open window) from the area when you’re working with EP
  6. recap EP jars soon after use

I would say the main use of embossing powder is for use on a stamped image. However, there are times when coordinating embellishments are wanted to further accent that stamped and embossed image. Or maybe you’re working on an altered project that would benefit from the texture and color of embossing powder.

Anything metal is easy to heat emboss. No ink or glue is needed. Heat the metal, pour on the powder, shake off the excess and reheat. The metal retains the heat enough for the embossing powder to stick until it is reheated. Remember, it will be HOT – use tongs or tweezers for handling. If embossing ink coats the metal surface first, it chips off much easier due to that extra layer between the metal and powder. A direct to metal bond is much stronger. Work in small areas, repeating the process until the area is covered to your satisfaction. This is a fantastic way to change the color of brads in any instant without having to buy every color of brad available. Think of any metal embellishment or even metal boxes that could benefit from an embossing powder coat.

Heat resistant tape offers a great solution to emboss non-metal items. I’m sure you’ve heard some: Red Liner Tape, Tacky Tape, Sticky Tape, and Pop Dots to name a few. They are great for lines, edges, entire surfaces or dots of embossed texture. These adhesives are double-sided, so apply the tape to the desired surface, sprinkle on the powder, shake off any excess and heat.

Do you have something other than ink that you use for heat embossing? I’d love to hear about it!

Until next time…

We talked last week about choosing the best ink pad to use for embossing with a heat tool. Regardless of the brand or color, a “juicy” ink pad is the best kind to use.

A nicely inked pad goes a long way for the success of your embossing. So when picking a “wet” ink pad, do you choose one with color or one without?

That’s a great question and it really depends on what you’re looking for in the final result. Here are some of the observations that I have found in using both types of inks.

Clear embossing ink with clear embossing powder: PROs-great as a resist or raised watermark effect; CONs-difficult to see unless using a high contrast ink Direct To Paper (DTP) over it.

Clear embossing ink with colored embossing powder: PROs-great when the EP is opaque as the true EP color is seen, no color interference from the ink; CONs-if there is some clear EP mixed into the color the image will look splotchy or incomplete, the same will happen if the EP is translucent or holographic.

Tinted embossing ink or Colored pigment ink with clear embossing powder: PROs-gives nice effect to the stamped image like an epoxy sticker; CONs-color is not dimensional, only the clear part is.

Tinted embossing ink or Colored pigment ink with colored embossing powder: PROs-gives rich color throughout the raised image and tends to hide spots with low EP coverage, can give the EP a different tone depending on the transparency of the powder; CONs-may change the color of the embossed image.

(click picture to enlarge)

Embossing Powder Doctor

In the trial above, the colored ink pad was Ranger’s Sail Boat Blue Pigment Ink and the colored EP is Close To My Heart’s Star Spangled Blue.

The best advice that I can offer is to try the combination first before you are working on the “real” project.