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How do I Choose the Best Embossing Paper?

By Denise Schardein
Updated May 16, 2024
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In the world of paper crafts, embossing is the process of creating a three-dimensional image or design with the application of heat or pressure. Choosing the best embossing paper will depend on your project and the embossing effect you choose. There are papers that are not suitable for dry embossing, but there are virtually no limits to the papers that can be used for heat embossing, depending on the effect you are after. For dry embossing, the best paper will be a lighter color and will not be too thick or too thin.

The two main embossing effects are dry embossing and heat embossing. Dry embossing, or relief embossing, is another name for traditional embossing, in which a brass plate or other hard material is used to impress a raised pattern onto your embossing paper. To heat emboss, you stamp an image onto your embossing paper with embossing ink, sprinkle the image with embossing powder, and then heat it with a special gun — similar to but more powerful than a hair dryer — which transforms the powder into a shiny liquid, three-dimensional design that hardens as it cools.

For dry embossing, remember that because you will be impressing the design onto the embossing paper using a brass stencil, your paper cannot be too thick or too thin. If the paper is too thick, such as poster board, you will be unable to impress the design. If the paper is too thin, such as tissue paper, the paper will tend to tear or will not hold the design very well.

Papers such as card stock, copy paper, stationery and craft paper are good choices. Also, you must be able to see through the paper using a light table, so very dark papers, including papers that are black, midnight blue and dark brown, are not suitable. Therefore, the best embossing paper for dry embossing will be lighter-colored paper or card stock, such as those used for greeting cards. You can also use vellum for dry embossing. When the vellum is embossed, the paper turns from translucent to opaque white, creating a very interesting effect.

For heat embossing, you can choose light or dark paper, card stock, patterned paper, glossy paper or specialty papers such as vellum or tissue paper. The heavier the paper weight, the less likely the paper will curl up when heated. When embossing lighter papers, such as vellum, you can place it between some books to flatten as it cools. Embossing papers such as vellum, tissue paper or transparencies can be used in heat embossing to achieve unusual and beautiful effects in decoupage projects.

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