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How Do I Choose the Best Embossing Stamp?

By Megan Shoop
Updated: May 17, 2024

Embossing refers to creating images that are raised and slightly textured on cardstock, a thick type of paper. When choosing an embossing stamp, the artist should consider what kind of embossing technique he or she wants to use. The artist should also consider how much time he or she wants to spend on a project. Embossing intricate designs is often painstaking and time-consuming. Considering these two factors should help the artist narrow down the myriad of stamp designs available in the modern crafting market.

There are two basic types of embossing techniques: wet and dry. Wet embossing involves coating a stamp in embossing ink, stamping the image onto paper and sprinkling embossing powder on top. The artist heats the powder, which fuses it into a shiny, raised design. The simplest technique for dry embossing involves stamping an image onto a piece of cardstock, then placing the image face-down on a light desk. The artist then uses a stylus to trace the image and give it texture.

Choosing an embossing stamp for wet embossing often depends on the artist’s experience. Beginners should typically choose an embossing stamp with a relatively blocky, simple design. Hearts, thick letters, geometric shapes, animal silhouettes, and cameos all typically work well. Embossing ink is often thicker than ordinary stamping ink, meaning it is more likely to clump around the edges of the image. The simpler the image, the less chance that any fine lines or intricate details will be lost in the final product.

More experienced artists may choose more complicated designs, but should still avoid designs with very small or interlocking details. For instance, broad Celtic knots should work well, but a woodcut design might be a poor choice. A lacy design with lots of openwork details could be beautiful, but a delicate filigree might end up being blurry. The reason for this is that the fused embossing powder often ends up making lines appear thicker than they did on the embossing stamp itself. The powder might run together as it fuses, obscuring intersecting lines and delicate facial details.

Those choosing the dry method usually have more choices when it comes to embossing stamp designs. These artists may choose any stamp they like, as long as they block off plenty of time to finish the project. The simplest method of dry embossing involves the above method of stamping the image onto cardstock and viewing it on a light desk. This lighted desk allows the artist to view the image and trace it from the back with a stylus. When the artist flips the finished product over, the lines of the stamped image should be raised.

Simple designs, such as those described for wet embossing, take much less time to trace than intricate designs. Beginners may want to practice on flowers, leaves, and animals before moving on to stippled buildings and human images. Embossing stamp designs for these projects may be as complicated as the artist likes, as long as he or she has the patience to trace tiny details.

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