Tool Tips: Embossing Folders
Embossing folders have been around for several years now, and the effects they produce seem to never go out of style. These tools are great for card makers because of the ease by which wonderful textures and designs can be added to cards. By simply placing paper in the plastic folder and running it through a machine to apply pressure, the result is a beautiful, raised design. By simply adding some ink to the process, you can have stunning letterpress designs as well.
Letterpress is a paper-craft technique of relief printing where ink is added to a raised design/text and then paper is pressed onto it. The inked design then becomes the portion of the design that is pressed and the raised portion of the design is void of ink. This was the normal form of printing text from the 15th century until the 20th century, when offset printing was developed.
We are seeing a revival of letterpress in many forms as a handmade or small-batch type of specialty craft. This is a technique that you can recreate in your home using embossing folders, ink, paper and a brayer. A brayer is a hard, smooth roller that can have ink applied to it, and then it is used to roll the ink onto the raised portion of the embossing folder.
After you have gathered these supplies, simply roll the brayer over your ink pad and then roll it across the raised portion of the open embossing folder. Lay a piece of cardstock on the inked design, very carefully. It’s very important to make sure the cardstock doesn’t slide around on the ink. You may want to add a small amount of adhesive on the back side of your paper so it will stay in place once you close the embossing folder. Finally, run the embossing folder through an embossing machine such as a Sizzix Big Shot or Provo Craft Cuttlebug. There are many other machines on the market that you can use to place the pressure on the folder to embed the design and ink into your paper.
Finally, open your folder and gently remove the finished product. If you added adhesive to the back of your paper, you may need to use a bit of extra effort to carefully remove the paper. This letterpress image can be added to your card as a bold background, or it can be cut down with scissors, punches or dies, and then added to your card as an embellishment or focal point.
If you already own some embossing folders and don’t have a brayer, try lightly brushing an ink pad across the raised surface of the embossing folder. The key is not to press the ink pad onto the design. You want to keep all the ink on the very top surfaces of the design and not in the valleys. You may have to do a few trial-and-error attempts to figure out just how much ink you need to achieve the perfect result, but the effort is well worth the finished product.
One last tip is to use either a pigment ink, chalk ink or distress ink. These inks will stay wet long enough for you to place your paper and run it through the embossing machine. A dye ink may dry too quickly to transfer the ink to the paper. When you are finished, simply clean the embossing folder with a baby wipe or damp cloth to remove the ink.
‘Til next time,