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Embossing seems to be one of the first things new stampers learn. In fact, it is often the technique that convinces an otherwise normal person that they need to learn to stamp, and collect thousands of stamps and every color of embossing powder ever made and tools they've never heard of (see Rules of Acquisition).

Embossing is a simple process which involves cardstock, a stamp, pigment, ink a heat source and embossing powder. Embossing can be done on matte or glossy paper. Pigment ink is a specially formulated ink which stays wet longer and, therefore, the embossing powder sticks to it better. Embossing powder is ground up resin (plastic) and comes in 2 grades, regular or fine (AKA ultra fine and detail). Within these grades there are different consistencies depending on the manufacturer. Two very good brands whose powders melt evenly are Think Ink and JudiKins.

Place your cardstock on a flat surface covered by a piece of paper (this will later become your funnel). Pat the cardstock with Faith's Little Miracle or other anti-static powder*. Stamp your image using pigment ink. It is important to get a good amount of ink on your stamp but not to clog up the image with too much. Pour a generous amount of embossing powder over the image. I've seen a lot of my students try to pour just a tiny bit of powder carefully over the stamped image. Don't bother! Just dump the whole container on there! Now carefully pick up the cardstock by the edges and dump the embossing powder onto the piece of paper underneath. Set the card aside and pick up the paper and fold it into a funnel shape and put the embossing powder back into its container. If you have any bits of embossing powder stuck to the cardstock other than the image (assuming you used anti-static powder) just flick the back of the card with your finger and they'll fall right off. The usual heat source is a heat gun. There are several brands but after having tested several I much prefer the Milwaukee. Warm your heat gun up while pointing it away from your image then point the gun at your image. It is important to not hold the heat too close to the cardstock or it will curl it. I usually hold my heat about 2 to 3 inches away, more if I'm embossing on vellum. This is not an exact science though and all heat guns are not created equal. Experiment. As the embossing powder melts it liquefies and turns shiny. This is always a little joy no matter how many times I do it. That's it! Easy, elegant and satisfying.

You can mix embossing powder on an image but it can waste some of your powder. Just stamp the image as usual and then sprinkle very lightly here and there with the first color of powder, then sprinkle with the second and so on. Now dump the powders off and heat as usual. I tend to only do this with copper, gold and silver (for a "Black Hills Gold effect") so I have a separate container full of this mix of powders. It is a very nice custom pale gold color and I use it all the time too!

I love the detail powders and wish they came in more than 6 colors (white, black, clear, silver, gold and copper). If I'm stamping a detailed image or words I almost always turn to my detail powders. The keys to getting nice fine lines (no goop) is to use the Faith's Little Miracle ahead of time and then to use the detail powders. Once you've tried it, you'll never go back. Note: I've recently seen a platinum color of detail powder made by PSX and Impressions in Clovis, CA has a great "brass" detail powder.

*When using glossy cardstock (and even matte cardstock) it is very common to have bits of the embossing powder stick to other parts of the cardstock than just the stamped image. I call these fritters. The old fashioned way to get rid of fritters was to use a tiny paint brush and brush them off. Now there's an easier and much better way. You can use an anti-static powder on the cardstock before stamping the image and then the embossing powder will only stick to the inked places (the image) and nowhere else. There are several brands on the market but my favorite for quality and convenience is Faith's Little Miracle. It comes in a little muslin bag and is very easy to use.