The original of this tutorial can be found in Russian there: http://whiteracoon.livejournal.com/38899.html
A beginner tutorial of dry embossing.
Embossing requires two things: a) embossing tool b) stencil
Tool-problems were considered here by myself (in Russian, actually just a suggestion to insert a pin in a pencil), and there by asti_n who offers an elegant solution by using a pen and piercing jewelry. A tool can be bought at a crafts store or you can use a crochet, a knitting needle or a manicure-artist tool with a small ball on top.
Now let's talk about the stencils. Of course it's good to have an embossing stencil (Fiskars for example). Also you can use stencils for painting, glass etching and other purposes (for instance, Rayher). But if you can't have these stencils for some reasons you can use anything you have at hand. Look for anything in your house that has texture: it can be a cutting bread board, kids' toys (especially construction sets), boxes, frames, tins and jars of all kinds, etc. The depth of the textured pattern should not be big, less than 1 mm (1/32") - not to tear the paper.
What we may need: paper to be embossed; tools of all kinds (or pins, or crochets, or needles etc.); cutting board with slots; embossing stencils; embossing folders for die-cut machines (for example, Cuttlebug), computer mouse mat or a cutting mat or a piece of dense cloth; a rolling pin; punches; glue, scissors; tins, having textured elements.
A little bit of theory: there are two types of embossed textures: convex or concave. For convex embossed paper you should use a concave stencil (with slots). For concave embossed paper you should use a convex stencil (with raised texture). All the handmade embossing is done on the BACK side of the paper. In the process of embossing the surface of the paper will be scratched a little, it will become chaotically glossy and won't look very good. So you emboss the back and use the front.
We're beginning from the easiest part:
Fiskars stencils and a tool:
Place a stencil on the table - with figure slots faced UP - put the paper (cardstock, vellum, foil, acetate) you want to emboss with its "face" DOWN. And begin working the back of your paper with a tool carefully, try not to move the papers. Apply gentle pressure to the tool, seeking for the slots and trying to outline them.
Turn the paper over - and ta-da! you've got the convex texture on your paper.
You can also use the embossing-folders. I used them for hand embossing, without the machine (i don't have that large scary monster at home), I'll show you how.
Embossing folder consists of two parts: one side has concave pattern, the other one - convex. You can open it and use any of the sides with a hand embossing tool.
Place a piece of paper in the folder, and use a rolling pin! Roll it applying moderate pressure and roll evenly: work every corner. Or you can use only the convex pattern and place a piece of dense cloth above the stencil and paper and roll. The texture won't be very clear, but after some training you'll be able to use it.
That's what we'll get:
Left - using a cloth; right - just a folder and a rolling pin.
Ok, let's go on. We'll take something that can be found in youe house: bread board and a tin with tea.
A cutting board has slots, place the paper on the board and work it. The pattern is very easy, you don't have to 'seek the pattern', so you can use both: front and back of your paper depending on the effect you want (convex or concave).
Emboss carefully... the result:
And now a tea-tin: let's emboss the title "Estate"
Ooops! Remember that we're using the tool on the BACK side of the paper %) So all the titles will be mirrored =) Be careful with them. ;)
And the first type of 'do-it-yourself'. Take a piece of cardstock, a punch (not less than 1 cm / 1/2"), and punch 2-3 times:
Cut out the punched "holes" and glue them together (use liquid glue, which won't dry to fast so that you can fix and settle):
And we'll have a concave pattern:
Use the thing you've got as a stencil:
In the second part I'll tell about more DIY embossing stencils.