Saturday, October 6, 2012

Stamping Techniques: Brayered Background and Basic Embossing

I belong to a monthly ATC (artist trading card) swap, and every month around this time, I'm working on cards to trade with the other stamp artists.  Having a deadline keeps me stamping, and I like to try out different background techniques and coloring methods.  But, after all of these years of stamping, I do go back to some 'tried and true' methods to create my ATCs.  The tutorial for today is mostly for newbies...using a brayer to apply color for a background, and how to heat emboss.

The swap theme this month is "Fall Leaves."  There are several stamps in my stash that I could use, but I decided I wanted a really large leaf, so it would take up most of the 2.5" by 3.5" card.  I didn't have much time to spend making the cards, so I decided to use my hard rubber brayer to apply the color to the cardstock.

Kaleidacolor, by Tsukineko, makes an "Autumn Leaves" stamp pad that has orange, red-orange, brown, goldenrod and moss green inks on it.  Each color has its own separate pad, and when you are ready to use them, you flip a little switch on the plastic container to push the pads together.

My brayer is pretty old, but Speedball sells a hard rubber brayer with a nice handle on it.  The key to inking the brayer is to remember to roll it over the pad a few times (so the entire cylinder is inked) and to go in the same direction on the pad, so you get a good saturation of color in the same spot.  If you roll the brayer across the pad horizontally and then vertically, the colors will get muddied, both on the brayer and on your ink pad.    

This technique works best on glossy paper.  The ink sits on top of the paper for a bit, and allows you to brayer over it a couple of times to move the ink around and better cover the paper.  (You can try it on regular cardstock, but you'll have to re-ink frequently, and once the ink is on the paper, it soaks in and can't be 'moved'.)

I was working on a scrap of cardstock about 4" x 6", so I didn't have to repeat the brayering more than twice.  If you are covering an 8.5" x 11" piece of cardstock, you will have to repeat the brayering process several times.  Here's another hint -- after you lay down the first roll of color, flip the paper over for the second roll...this will create a mirror image of the ink pattern, giving you a wider swath of color on the paper.  I did this with the paper I'm using here.  You can see the green ink left and right, with more orange in the center.

After I laid down the color, I stamped the image using a VersaMark ink pad (also by Tsukinkeo).  This is a clear ink that can be embossed.  On regular cardstock, it appears as a watermark when allowed to dry without embossing. 

Working quickly, I sprinkled on my embossing powder over the wet ink.   I used copper embossing powder.  Don't be afraid to use a lot of embossing powder; just flip over your card and tap the back with your finger to remove the excess onto a piece of scrap paper, then pour the excess back into its container.

Be careful not to touch the image before you heat emboss it, or the powder will smear off.  It can wait to be heat embossed, so if you are doing a number of the same images, work in an assembly-line fashion before you heat emboss them all.  Turn on your embossing gun and let it warm up for a few seconds, then hold it over your embossed image (about 2-3 inches away) until the powder begins to melt.  Move the heat gun back and forth, so you don't burn the powder or your paper.  You will see the design raise up and begin to get shiny. 
Continue to move your heat gun around the image until the entire thing is embossed.  Let it cool a few minutes before you touch it, or it will smear.

For this project, I trimmed my glossy cardstock down to 2.25" x 3.25", then mounted each on a piece of burnt orange cardstock. 

Then I decided to try something a little different with my leaf image.  Instead of brayering the background, I stamped and embossed the image, then used Judi-Kins duster brushes to apply the ink from my Kaleidacolor pad.  It creates a softer image, but I like it, too.  The last thing I did was rub over the embossing, to remove any residual ink and really make the image shiny. 
I had an extra leaf, so I trimmed around it closely, and mounted it to the front of a card that I made. 
So, I finished up my ATCs and they'll get into the mail tomorrow.  I hope this tutorial will inspire you.  More stamping again soon!

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