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Basics of Embossing

October 14, 2008

To put it simply, embossing is the gentle manipulation of the parchment paper (a heavy-weight vellum). Generally used are ball tools. Rubbing these ball tools over the parchment paper stretches the paper, which results in the paper changing color, from gray to white.

Just like I explained in tracing, there is very little pressure, if any, used on the paper. It is the friction of rubbing the tool against the paper that does the job. The use of too much pressure can cause you to break the paper, and we don’t want to do that!

We should also have a quick discussion of embossing pads. There are a number of embossing pads on the market. For those of you just starting parchment craft and find you are not particularly strong in the hands, you may want to use a simple foam pad bought at any craft store. It’s about 2-3 mm thick, most often found in the kids foam crafts section of the large craft stores here in the US, and comes in a variety of colors. I suggest choosing a dark color, like black or a dark green, so that you can see your traced lines. But, do try several different embossing pads to find the one you like the most.

Now that you have your tools in front of you, your parchment paper has been traced with a pattern, it is almost time to start embossing. It is a good idea to rub the back of your parchment paper with a dryer fabric softener sheet. (If you do not like the scented variety, use unscented) This helps the tools to glide on the paper. Instead of the dryer sheets, one can use clear shoe polish, or a good wax rubbed over the back of the paper. But, I find that a dryer sheet lasts for several projects, the lightly scented ones give the project a nice scent, and then I use it in the dryer with the next load of laundry.

To start, turn your paper over as you will be working from the back. Rub your paper with the dryer sheet. Choose the largest ball tool that fits in the area that you are embossing. Gently rub the tool over the paper within your traced lines, trying not to go over the lines. You will see the paper turning a lighter and lighter shade of gray, until it turns white.

We don’t always want to make all the parts of a pattern completely white, so there are numerous styles of embossing from which you can choose to complete a project.

One of the most common embossing styles in flower petals is embossing from the outside edge of the petal towards the heart of the flower. To do this, turn your paper so that the outside edge of the petal is near to you. Hold your ball tool next to the outline and with a little tiny bit of pressure to start, flick your tool towards the heart. Make a short stroke next to, but slightly overlapping the first stroke, then a longer stroke. In order to get a nice white along the outside edges of the petal, you will have to go over your first strokes again, with the next smaller ball tool.

Here is a short video on basic embossing:

As with the tracing, this also takes a lot of practice.

Pattern used in this demonstration is from Pergamano M-65.

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