I prefer using non-glossy, smooth surface stock. The reason being that you can go back in over the embossed image with markers and/or watercolor and create a tremendous range of treatments that are not possible using coated papers. Most markers are water or mostly water-based media, much like standard water-color paints. Water will not stick to plastic and since the melted portion of an embossed image is essentially plastic, the pigment in many brands of markers will simply slide off the plastic image and nestle in-between onto the exposed paper. This approach will not work well with glossy stock. It is even possible to use a water-color brush to blend the marker colors together, thereby achieving effects similar to standard water-color techniques. Be forewarned, powders with glitter or sharp plastic pieces will eat up the tips of your markers!

When buying embossing powders, never, NEVER, mistake the color of the powder in the jar for the finished product. There are too many variables. Ask to see a finished sample using the powder you are interested in and always ask if the sample was printed with a clear embossing ink, or a pigmented ink. Powders have many properties, not the least of which is whether it is transparent, translucent or opaque. If it is transparent or translucent, the color of the ink used and even the color of the paper can effect the finished product. If opaque, it'll be that color no matter what you make your base print with. Better stores displaying better samples will make up a variety of examples using different base inks to tell you what kind of results you'll be getting.

One of my favorite tips is the spot application of powders. Sorta like painting with plastic. Most of the people who tell me they emboss can be grouped into what might be referred to as Dunkers or Dumpers. They stamp an image and, in one way or another, drown it in powder. It works, but.... What I teach folks is to plan ahead of time, select several powders to use and apply them in selected areas by means of a very simple home-made tool. Find a small cocktail straw and cut the tip off at about a 45 angle. This creates a small hand-held shovel. This way you can scoop out a small portion of powder and carefully tap it in the area of your image you want. If you apply another powder over the top of this, the first powder will already be stuck to the ink and won't be effected by the next layer.

Stencils can also be used to apply powder to a specific section of your design. Once again, use powder sparingly with this technique or you'll end up with buckets of "party mix" (That's the name given to a ba-zillion powders all mixed together.)

Also think about using a condiment shaker with a collapsible lid and small holes to shake out powder onto your image. Once the image is lightly covered, you can tap or shake your paper to spread the powder evenly. With shakers, they're always ready to use and with practice you can blend colors of powders, one into the next.

Another suggestion is to use colored paper, somewhere on the light side of middle value. My preferences are tan and gray. This way you can use embossing powders and pigmented inks that are lighter in value than the paper and they will almost jump off the page. This is particularly effective with multi-colored techniques and markers.

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copyright 2017 Fred B. Mullett