Heat emboss using a stencil

Image of the completed mixed-media artwork. A bird stands, looking left in oranges, red, and yellow, a circle is at lower left and a collage of papers, botanical shapes, and thread is assembled behind the bird. The background is heat embossed stenciling acting as a resist for the ink and watercolors in shades of greens and yellows with a touch of orange.
5.5″ x 8.5″ mixed-media artwork featuring heat embossing.

I remember being absolutely mesmerized the first time I ever saw heat embossing using embossing powder and a heat gun. It was one of the most magical, alchemical things I’d ever seen, and I was pretty much hooked immediately. The thrill of watching the embossing powder melt and form a shiny, colored coating is so amazing, and I still get a kick out of it today. So imagine my delight when I figured out that I could use a stencil to add a background design for heat embossing, my mind exploded with possibilities!

The Crafter’s Workshop provided me with some product to create this project. The opinions I share are solely my own.

Today’s step-by-step process teaches you how to stencil using embossing fluid and powders to create a colored background resist for applying our fabulous ColorSparx watercolor powders to.

Step One: Select a stencil and lay it on your paper. I chose to use one of my new favorite stencils, TCW963 Hanging Vines by Ronda Palazzari. Apply clear embossing liquid (I have a bottle with a dauber that allows me to apply the embossing fluid directly from the bottle) onto the stencil cut out areas. For this project, I am using a heavy weight watercolor paper by Strathmore measuring 5.5″ x 8.5″.

HOT TIP: After the embossing process is complete (Step Three), hand wash the stencil with dish soap and warm water to remove the embossing liquid residue from your stencil.

Step Two: Using your fingers, randomly pinch and lightly sprinkle a variety of embossing powders in your desired colors over the entire embossing liquid stenciled design. Tap the edge of the paper against your worksurface to remove the excess embossing powder in preparation for heat setting. Double check that all areas have embossing powder where needed, and reapply if necessary.

HOT TIP: If there is embossing powder stuck in an area where you do not want it, or if you want to clean up stencil edges etc, use a soft dry paintbrush to gently swipe off the excess powder.

Close up image showing the embossing powder sprinkled across the page.
Embossing powders were randomly hand sprinkled over the stenciled embossing liquid design.

Step Three: Using a heat gun and moving it slowly in small circular motions approximately two inches from the back of the paper, heat the embossing powder gently until it is all fully melted.

HOT TIP: Embossing powder appears matte and grainy when not heat set. Successfully heat set embossing powder looks shiny and feels smooth. Using the back of the paper allows more control of the heat distribution, and prevents the embossing powder from being blown off the design on the front of the paper before it is successfully heat set!

Close up image showing the excess embossing powder removed, and the stenciled image is now ready to be heat set using a heat gun.
Embossing powders before being heat set with a heat gun.

Step Four: Using ColorSparx watercolor powders, randomly sprinkle your chosen colors over the embossed stencil design. The heat set embossing powder forms a waterproof resist against the water based colors. Lightly spritz the ColorSparx powders with water and dry completely. For my project, I used ColorSparx powders in TCW9059 Grasslands – Olive Green, TCW9057 Poolside – Chartreuse, and TCW9059 Grasslands – Yellow Ochre.

Flat lay image showing the background sprinkled with Olive Green, Chartreuse, and Yellow Ochre ColorSparx powders. The page has been spritzed with water to activate the powders. The three bottles of ColorSparx powders lay adjacent to the page on the right, and are laying at an angle.
ColorSparx powders were lightly sprinkled and spritzed as background color.
Close up image of the still wet ColorSparx powders ready to be dried.
Close up image of the ColorSparx colors when first spritzed with water.

Step Five: I love using a combination of mediums together to create layers in my work. Next, using Rustic Wilderness Distress Ink and Speckled Egg Oxide Ink by Ranger, I applied the inks to the background using ink applicator brushes through the same TCW963 Hanging Vines stencil by Ronda Palazzari.

Image showing the two ink pads, ink applicator brushes, TCW963 Hanging Vines stencil, and the background which has now had the two ink colors applied.
Inks were applied using ink applicator brushes and the TCW963 Hanging Vines stencil by Ronda Palazzari
Full image of the completed background.
Image of the completed heat embossed and ColorSparx water colored background.

Step Six: I attached the focal images and embellishments to the background using TCW9011 Matte Gel Medium. I used the following stencils to create some of the focal point images:
TCW964 Encircled
TCW945 Starflower Net
TCW901 Geo Netting

TCW958 Splash Whoosh

Image of the background laying on my worksurface. A jar of TCW 9011 Matte Gel Medium is in the top right of the image. Pieces of the focal point lay to the side and on the page, being auditioned and applied to the background.
TCW9011 Matte Gel Medium was used to apply the focal images.

Close up image of the right side of the completed artwork showing the focal image with thread and botanical embellishments applied.
Close-up image showing the focal points against the heat embossed background.
Full image of the completed artwork.
The completed heat embossed, mixed-media collage artwork 5.5″ x 8.5″

Want to see a brief step-by-step process video for this project? Hop on over to my YouTube Channel to view the video (31 sec). I really hope you found these step-by-step instructions and photos to be helpful and that you feel confident enough to try this on your own. If you have any questions or feedback, please don’t hesitate to post them below.

I’d really love to hear what you love about this post so please leave me a comment, below! Have a great day and happy making, we *LOVE* to see your projects, so please be sure to tag us using our hashtag of #tcwstencillove !

Michaela Butterworth
The Crafter’s Workshop Design Team Member

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