creating beautiful journals and books

Embossing paper – making an impression

Embossing is a technique that creates a raised or recessed surface on paper, metal and other materials. There are three main methods: wet embossing; dry embossing and heat embossing.

There is another, extremely unconventional method of embossing which you can read about at the end of this post.
• Dry embossing on paper, also called relief embossing  paper, is done using a stylus and stencil (which might be a found object such as a plastic table mat, some plastic fly screen or a strip of woven cloth).
• Heat embossing uses rubber or homemade stamps, special (metallic) powder, ink, and a heat source.
• Wet embossing is mostly used by paper makers to form three dimensional patterns on newly made, wet sheets of paper.

 embossed papers
The method I used to wet emboss these recycled rag papers was a printmaker’s rather than a papermaker’s approach. Recycled rag papers are very strong and will not tear under the pressure of a heavy weight.
I soaked a selection of printmaking papers in cold water for a few minutes, drained off the excess water and lay them on top of one another in a cool place for about half an hour, to rest.
Then, using my old wooden mangle as a press, I rolled a wooden place mat (pictured below) through the press with a sheet of damp printmaking paper on top of the mat. The plain textured pattern is the result. Using a number of different letterpress papers, I repeated the experiment.

old wooden place mat I used to emboss the rag papers

old wooden place mat I used to emboss the rag papers

When the papers dried, I rubbed graphite over the texture and stamped colours on one of the sheets using a rubber on the end of a drawing pencil. You can see the result on the right hand side of the first photograph. These papers will make interesting covers for my handmade books and I will tear them to use in collage to give depth.
Impress your friends
If you don’t have a printing or a paper press, you can use heavy weights such as bricks, planks and containers of water to emboss, leaving the pressure on until the paper has dried. Results will vary according to materials used.
In her book, Paper Art, Diane Maurer-Mathison mentions some artists who impress their friends as well as their papers by driving their cars over a sandwich of boards containing embossing materials and damp paper. The results are instant. Now that sounds like fun!


2 comments on “Embossing paper – making an impression

  1. Kath Rogers
    January 6, 2013

    How beautiful Marama, and what fun it would have been! xx

  2. greengaze
    January 7, 2013

    What a beautiful result. I can picture the book with that cover. Thanks for sharing the process.

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This entry was posted on January 5, 2013 by in Art, Bookmaking, Journals, My Portfolio, My Workshops, Print making.

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