Embossing is a popular way to create paper crafts and home decor and the different types of embossing tools include electronic machines, metal or plastic stencils, and heat embossers. The type of paper chosen for projects is also dependent on the type of embossing craft being completed. The paper styles can range from very thin vellum to heavyweight card stock. Using the appropriate paper for the type of project should allow the embossing tools to work correctly.
Electronic machines are available in sizes up to 24 inches (61 cm) wide. Paper is placed on a lightly adhesive foam mat and fed into the machine. The desired image or words are entered into the electronic keypad and the user presses "Start." The machine has a metal or plastic stylus, which is similar to a pen but without the ink, and when the machine is in use the stylus forms the image or words.
It works by pressing firmly on the paper to form an outline of the image. When the paper is lifted from the adhesive mat and turned over, the embossed image is shown. Most of these types of embossing tools can also be used to actually cut images. Instead of a stylus tip, a thin cutting knife is inserted into the stylus slot and the image is cut out instead of embossed.
Other embossing tools such as metal and plastic stencils work much the same way as the electronic machines. The main difference is the image outline is pressed into the paper by hand. The stencil is placed under the paper and the image is pressed into the paper by tracing the inner edge of the stencil with a stylus.
For thick paper, a light box may be used so the stencil is easily seen. A light box is a plastic box that can be plugged into an electrical outlet and light from within. The paper and stencil are then placed onto the light box viewing mat so the light shines through the paper and makes it easier to trace the outline.
When creating cards or scrapbook layouts, crafters may use embossing tools such as heat embossers. A heat embosser looks somewhat like a hair dryer but gets considerably hotter. When an image is inked onto paper using a rubber stamp, embossing powder is quickly sprinkled onto the ink while it is still wet. The excess powder is tapped off the paper and set aside leaving embossing powder only on the actual image. After turning on the heat embosser, it is waved over the image until the embossing powder melts and converts it into a shiny metallic image.