Friday, April 27, 2012

Painting With Embossing Powers Tutorial

Fred Mullet calls his class Dancing Rubber Fish. The technique is not difficult and can be used with other images, but of course the nature print stamps that Fred sells offer amazing results. I'm anxious to try it with real plant leaves.

I didn't know that some embossing inks are translucent and others are opaque. That does make a difference as the translucent powders allow the color of cardstock and ink to show through, while the color of an opaque powder is that color no mater what. I have many different colors of embossing powders, but I bought a pack of Fred's powders because I knew they were translucent. Many stores sell Fred Mullet stamps, but they are also available online: Fred Mullet
I had the smaller fish print stamps and bought the larger one after taking Fred's class. I think I can make an underwater scene with these making a larger, frameable piece of art.
rubber stamps
black and white pigment inkpads
a range of embossing powders
watercolor paints
cocktail straw with the end cut on an angle
tee tiny spoon (like the type used to taste ice cream)
2 cups of water, one clean and one for washing out brushes
 embossing gun
box to catch embossing powders in
paper towel or TP, which Fred calls '"technique paper"
porous sponge car washing sponge or a sea sponge

Before you begin stamping, decide which colors of embossing powders you want to use.  You need a smooth matte cardstock, not glossy. This can be white, tan, or other pale colors. Later you may want to experiment with darker colors and bleach.

Begin by inking your stamp. For a fish, use black ink beginning just above the fish's lateral line on the stamp. Then stamp the bottom portion of the fish with wihite ink. For a plant/flower you can yoose black towards the middle and white towards the edges.
Now  in the section where white and black meet, take your sponge and pounce with a zigzaging motion - on the white then on the black, then back on white etc. This blends or eases the transition from black to white.
Next, the spot application of embossing powers which Fred says is sort of like painting with plastic.Use your fancy applicator to deliver a small amount of embossing powder in specific ares of your stamped image. Use one color possibly 2-3 but don't get carried away, because you have lovely watercolors to provide additional soft colors. Hold the straw close to the paper and very gently shake out powder.
See where the darker yellow/orange is towards the top of the fish? Its lateral line is just below that and appears as a gap in the stamped image. Above that you want more interesting colors and below that lighter or less interesting. That way it mimics real fish. They are lighter on the undersides so that they blend with sunlight coming through the water. This makes them less visible to predators swimming below. To predators swimming above them, the darker color blends with the ocean floor which is darker.
 Use a translucent/very light color of embossing powder over the white ink and some of the black as well. Use your tee tiny spoon and hold it up away from the paper, gently shake so that the powder floats to the paper.

This the part that is called the 'dance.' Hold your cardstock in one hand over the box and with the other hand, gently tap the underside so that the powders dance on the surface and mingle into other areas a bit.  Tap off the excess, then emboss. If you hold your paper up even with your line of sight, you can more easily see just when the powder melts, then move on to another area. That way you don't overheat/burn your powder or miss areas causing them not to be embossed at all.

The last step involves water colors! We used paint in class, as did I in the samples in this tutorial. However, you could use watercolor markers and a blending pen if you like. Don't over-wet your paper or it will buckle, but at the same time do add water to your paint before adding to the cardstock so that it will have that watercolor look.
For these flowers, I chose to place my darker areas towards the center and the lighter areas towards the edges.
On these samples, I used green embossing powder on the stem, but you could use watercolor there as well.
Be sure to leave or add a touch of white in the eye for more realism.
There you have it. I hope you will try this technique on stamps you have, or pick up some of Fred Mullet's nature stamps. He sells them in small sizes and in very large sizes. All the examples above are large, so I'm going to mat and frame some of them. I also plan to do an underwater fishy scene on an even larger sheet of paper to mat and frame. I think a school of fish some done with multiple stampings off the same ink application to give ghost images. That would provide some nice depth for a school of fish don't you think?


  1. WOW! Those flowers are just stunning! I will have to give this a try. Thanks so much for sharing this pretty technique. Have a great weekend!

  2. Wow ! The results are stunning ! I'm tired this evening, but will be back for what looks like an awesome & detailed tutorial ! Can't wait to take it all in & try it ! Thanks for all your work to share this information ! Have a great weekend, Shirley x

  3. WOW! Thanks for the mini lesson. This is an amazing technique with amazing results. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Wowza! what a cool technique! Stunning effect!!!!!!

  5. Very cool!! These are great. I can't wait to see your framed piece when you do it.

  6. Absolutely stunning! Simply gorgeous!

  7. Wow - LOVE the effect! Thanks for sharing the step-by-step instructions.

  8. Wow! How fabulous! You really did learn quite a bit in that class. Thanks for sharing those instructions. Would love to try that some time.

  9. This is really amazing, love the effects!

  10. That is too cool! Thanks for sharing such a great tutorial! Beautiful!

  11. Wow is right! This is a really cool technique & the images turned out so very nice! Thanks for sharing the techinque....I'll have to give it a try one day!

  12. Great technique! I can't wait to try this one. Thanks for sharing!

  13. Wow, Carole, I was mesmerized by your tutorial! I love EP's and you made it look easy. All of your images turned out lovely and should be framed!!! Also, thank you for showing the Tea plantation, etc. What a treat!

  14. OMG..this is pure genius...I need to try this! You are always so inspiring..

  15. Beautiful results ! The last step watercoloring.. do you stamp over the embossed area or use a brush ? Really gorgeous !

    1. Thanks Sabine! We used a brush to apply the watercolors, but you could use watercolor markers as well.


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