So, I was on a message board and someone asked about heat embossing and I went ahead and responded. Because I had the opportunity to teach this class at Archiver's and the fact that I am a Close To My Heart consultant, I happen to know a LOT about this technique and I realized this as I typed my response, so I thought I would share it with you here. I will try to get a sample or two done over the weekend so you can have a visual to go with it, but here is a bunch of info, at least! Enjoy!
Feel free to ask any questions or comment with a link to some heat embossing you have done! I'd love to see it! If I can figure out how to do it I may even share it with my readers!
Now...to start...the discussion lent itself to suggestions on what to use as a heat source...therefore, I addressed this issue right off the bat...
I'm going to come in and say that it really is best to use a real craft heat gun. Yes, the toaster, candles, gas stove top, etc. will melt the powder, however, for the best results you need something that has a controlled, steady flow of heat. Not only that, but it is REALLY dangerous to use some of those things! I know a woman who caused a small kitchen fire because she used her toaster to heat emboss (and no...she didn't put it in the slot...the paper was just on top of the toaster).
As far as how to do it. I will have to check, but there may be a great video tutorial on the CTMH website. I used to teach it when I worked at Archiver's, too, but basically, you just want to ink your stamp in a sticky embossing ink, pigment ink, or versamark and stamp your image. Immediately cover the image with your powder...now you can breath! LOL! Step one to step 2 has to happen quickly, but once it is on, you have some time. Then you want to tap the image gently to remove excess powder...blowing works, too, but some say not to do this, as you will loose some of the powder on the image, for me, I do both and the tapping usually works best. If you still see some stray powder use a small paint brush to brush off the extra. Then, holding your heat tool a few inches above your image, heat the powder by moving the heat gun in a circular motion - you want to keep the gun moving at all times to avoid scorching. You will see "stages" of the heating process with most powders. First it is dry and crumbly, then, as it begins to heat it gets "gritty" looking, and then, when it is ready it is smooth and shiny. If you over heat it will become dull and very flat...when you are just starting out, I recommend doing this on purpose on a scrap just so you know how much is too much. I suggest that new embossers make "swatches" so they can get the feel of "not enough" heat, "just right," and "too much." That way you know exactly what you are doing when you work on your real projects. You can have the image on a flat surface (make sure it can handle the heat, though...silicone mats are GREAT for this!) or you can hold it while you heat it, but I recommend holding it with tweezers, as to not burn your fingers - those heat guns are VERY hot!
A few suggestions for beginners:
1. Don't start with an ultra-fine powder -they are a little trickier to work with, as they tend to get messy and go all over the place and it is likely to be frustrating.
2. Try clear and colored powders with different inks. A colored ink with a clear powder will show the color of the ink, a colored powder on a same colored ink will give a nice intense color, a colored powder on a different colored ink is not recommended as it tends to muddy the colors and look like poo. A metallic powder can go over any ink, as it will cover completely and the color will not show through.
3. You may want to invest in a corn starch pillow. It's a little embossing pillow that you swipe over your paper prior to inking that helps prevent excess powder from clinging to non-inked portions of your project. However, these are hard to use on dark papers because they are a white powder! LOL!
Let me know if you have any questions or comments! There are so many wonderful powders and inks out there to choose from, so mix it up and have fun!