Dry embossing tutorial - part 2

The first part can be found here. РУССКАЯ версия этого поста: здесь

That's what we're going to create:

and even better!

Version 1
Not the most interesting, and engages the work with a die-cut machine. I used my CraftRobo (or if you don't have one take all your carefulness and accuracy, and a small and extremely sharp knife). Decide what pattern you want to create. For example, your name. Isn't it great to have your own personalized embossing stencil?

Choose sufficient material: either thin plastic (or acetate, a folder for papers – 200 mkm thick is the best) or, what’s easier, thick paper or cardstock. Note that the paper is not very ‘flocky’ or ‘fleecy’ and lets you cut small details without letting all its fibers loose. Carefully cut the outline (if you need instructions for operating a CraftRobo – feel free to ask), trying to make no unnecessary cuts:

That’s what we’ll get:

Separate the letters and the rest. We will need a piece of paper/acetate with holes in it, so pay more attention to the solid part.

Take a mat (it can be the same material) and glue the cut-through piece we’ve just created – attention! - FACE DOWN! The title should be mirrored:

Everything’s okay and you can use it even without the mat, but here I lack the inner parts of characters like ‘a’, ‘o’, ‘e’ etc. We need to glue them in the right places as well:

Wait until it’s dry to touch – and you can use your stencil! Left pic shows how to emboss (the back of the paper), the right one – the result we get, the front of the paper.

Version 2
Let’s pretend we do not have any special tools, stencils, special sharp knives and, of course, no CraftRobos. It’s the part of “COMPLETELY DO-IT-YOURSELF” embossing stencil. %)
We’ll need good quality cardstock (not fluffy-fleecy), a pen or a pencil, small scissors, white glue, all-purpose flour, table salt, water. Optional: nail polish. And some kind of a tool or its replacement – crochet or a pin.

Let’s do it! Take a piece of a cardstock. Draw your design. For example, your name. When the pattern is ready – cut it out. We won’t need the counterpart this time, so feel free to cut it the way you like. This time we need only the characters/letters. Take a mat (the same cardstock) and glue the letters down. Glue right the way you want it to look as a result – no need to turn them over or mirror:

A close-up: you can see a small pop-up. That’s enough for embossing. No need for double-tripple layers. Glue carefully – try not to spill the glue, remove all the excess of glue. And dry it.

Now we’re going to make some flour-salt-dough %) We’ll need this soft ductile dough to create a concave stencil. Mix 1 part of salt (the finer the crystals the better!), 2 parts of all-purpose flour and 3/4-1 part of water (depending on the quality and properties of flour). Mix everything well and you should get a ductile soft dough. It should not be sticky – add more flour if it is; and it should not be flaky – if so, add a drop of water. I had a small stencil, so for 1 part I took 1 teaspoon: 1 teaspoon of salt and 2 teaspoons of flour. That’s enough for covering the surface of stencil 9 cm x 7 cm (4” x 3”).

Take your paper blank and spill flour on it. Now turn it over and tap the excess of flour off. A thin layer of flour is stuck to the blank – that’s enough. Make sure that the holes in chars ‘a’, ‘o’, ‘e’ etc are not clogged with flour.

Roll the dough and place the blank on it, face down. And roll it again carefully with a rolling pin. The dough should be at least 1,5-2 mm (1/16”) thick (thinner stencils will crack easily).

Turn it over very carefully and slowly. ‘Peel’ the blank off the dough stencil. See the letters appearing there? =)

Look at what you’ve got. If you don’t like the slot sizes somewhere you can fix them with am embossing tool (or a pin) (dip the tool in water or touch with a wet cloth – the tool should be a little wet, but not dripping). If you’ve got holes in places you don’t want them to be (take a look at the right lower corner of the pic), paste a small piece of dough there and roll with something small and round (round pen or embossing tool handle)

Cut off the edges to make a rectangle:

And let it dry! Experts advice to dry it in an oven for an hour at 50C (120F), then an hour at 75C (170F), then an hour at 100C (210F) etc. I think 3 hours will be more than enough for our small stencil. But I had no hurry and let it dry naturally – ‘on air’. It took about a week (or 5 days). But it dried flat and thoroughly.
For those who want it fast: DO NOT use grill, microwave oven, toaster, roaster, central heating system etc. Otherwise your stencil will scorch, become fried at one end and stay raw at the other, in other words you risk to spoil your work with no chance of fixing it.

It’s dried. You can see that the surface is a little porous because of salt. It’s ok for thick paper or cardstock, but may cause troubles when used with fine paper. So inspect the stencil carefully: brush the slots with hard-bristle brush; use a fine needle to remove the occasional crumbs.

You may want to cover your stencil with nail polish. Choose a liquid one: it should fill the pores well and not dry too quickly so that you’ll be able to cover the entire stencil at once. If it dries quickly the polish layers will give you extra relief, which you do not want there. Use the nail polish only on completely dry stencil. If it’s not - the polish may peel off in a few days or it may soften the not-so-dry layers of your flour-salt-work. Let it dry.

That’s it! You can use it for embossing. On the left side: flour-salt-stencil (we get a convex embossed paper), on the right side – the cardstock blank we used for the stencil (with it we can get a concave embossed paper). If you need concave embossing stencil – just make your blank mirrored.

Note: materials you may use instead of flour-salt-dough are air-drying clay, fimo-clay and any other substance you can think of with same properties. You can also use rubber stamps, buttons, thick threads etc instead of your paper blank to create the relief with. Just remember that the slots shouldn’t be deeper than 1 mm.

Version 3
Let’s imagine that you don’t even have flour and sharp scissors. There is still a dry-embossing method you can use. =)
Take a pen, remove the refill. And now you’ve got a tool for circle-embossing:

Put a piece of paper on something not very hard and that you won’t need much later (the circles will be embossed there too, so don’t use your documents as a mat): it can be either a hard mouse pad (for optical mice, no soft rubber mats) or a stack of papers or a couple of cardstock scraps. Press the pen against the paper you want to be embossed and make circles with it. Choose your own pattern. You can make simple flowers:

Or something more complicated: that’s a commercial sample, it was not a handmade embossing, but what keeps you from repeating the pattern? Patience is the only thing you’ll need =)

Then take a needle or an empty ball-point pen refill (that will NOT leave any traces on paper) and add some details:

That’s what we’ve got:

On the left: the slots, the side of the paper we work with; on the right – the back of the paper, not very sharp, yet bearable.
What else can you do with it?
Take a color pencil and a knife and grind some of the color part to get a little color powder. Then take a cotton ball, tap it on the powder and rub the ‘slotted’ side of the paper you’ve embossed. The slots will stay white, and everything around it will be colored! The contrast is better, and the design you’ve embossed looks more attractive.

Version 4
A total mind-wrench =) Have seen this thing in the internet a while ago, but sorry, cannot find the source, so I made my own “tutorial”. A mix of embossing and papier-mache
We’ll need: facial tissues (soft and thin), scissors, water, brush, rubber stamp, a little glue.

Cut the tissue into pieces which are a little bigger than the stamp surface. And peel the layers of it separately

Dip the brush into the water and touch the tissue layers with it lightly. A wet mark with spread on the tissue square evenly itself.

Place the wet tissue on the rubber stamp carefully and use a stick (a toothpick or a brush handle) to apply the tissue between the stamp details – it should cover all the stamp’s pattern details.

Repeat this action 5-6 times, press everything together. And let it dry a little.

While it’s still damp drop a little glue on the top of it. Choose the most runny and liquid glue you have (or dilute the white glue with water). VERY-very carefully spread the glue on the top of all that. Try not to disturb the surface and not to damage the tissue layers. And even with greater care place another layer of tissue above the glue – for fixing this thing.

Let it dry well. And take the tissue-thing off your rubber stamp. And that’s what we’ve got.

Cut the way you like it and use. I have no idea whether it’s very useful or not, but it’s fun to do =) I guess you can use it it vintage or shabby-chick cards, or as photo corners in your scrap-booking project.

Thanks for looking! If you have any comments or questions – feel free to express yourself =)


  1. these ideas are GREAT! i've been looking for how to make things from scratch and haven't been very lucky. these are super! thanks! i will definitely try them.

  2. bessfriend, thank you for commenting!
    I'm happy that you find this tutorial somehow useful =)