Thursday, June 6, 2013

Using Embossed Paper for Rolling Mill Printing

Using Embossed Paper for Roll Printing

In my recent Pinterest browsings I came across an intriguing product by Rolling Mill Resource on Etsy: laser cut paper patterns that create low relief patterns and textures when used to imprint metal in a rolling mill. When I saw them, not only did I think they were very cool, but I had a flash of inspiration. They looked a lot like embossed stamped paper. Having been creative with my wedding invitations and thank-yous, I have all that stuff in the dark recesses of my supply closet. So, I pulled them out to see what I could do with them.

Using Embossed Paper for Rolling Mill Printing

There's nothing special about the materials I used. I only wanted to see if it would work at all. I didn't even break out the card stock and just grabbed some inexpensive 20# white paper from my printer.


· paper (I used plain white 20#, but would try card stock next time)
· clear embossing ink
· red embossing powder (one of my wedding colors)
· a cute swirly vines stamp, about 2x3 inches in size
· an embossing gun
· copper sheet metal (I used 22g in this sample)
· micro torch
· charcoal block or some other surface on which you can anneal metal
· pickling agent
· brass brush
· rolling mill

The first step is to dab on the embossing ink to the stamp, then to make a stamp on the paper. It will basically just look wet where the lines are. If you happened to be exposed to glitter at some time in your life, then applying embossing powder to the stamp impression is much the same process. You dump a bunch on the wet parts, wait a second while you put the open container somewhere safe and flat where you can, then, carefully pick up the paper with the tower of embossing paper and, folding the paper slightly to create a channel, carefully dump the loose embossing powder back into its container. What you will be left with will look something like this:

Using Embossed Paper for Rolling Mill Printing

I'm going to explain this as if you stole your embossing supplies from someone else and maybe aren't entirely sure what you're dealing with. If they're your supplies this should all be annoying review. Plug in your embossing gun somewhere nearby, if you haven't already. Place the paper on a heat-safe surface (like your charcoal block or a marble tile). Turn on your embossing gun, which will get really, really hot very quickly, point it at the paper, holding it about an inch away from the embossing powder.

Using Embossed Paper for Rolling Mill Printing

Like with many soldering projects, you'll move the tip of the gun around the surface covered with powder to get it warm. Once it's all warm you'll start to see some parts get shiny. Generally, at that point, I work slowly around that point, gradually working outward as each part melts and becomes shiny.

Using Embossed Paper for Rolling Mill Printing

Now that that's all set, you'll want to cut a piece of copper sheet metal about the same size as your stamped design. Again, here I didn't use the thickest metal I had, since I wasn't sure this would work, and used 22 gauge.

Using Embossed Paper for Rolling Mill Printing

To get the best impression possible on the copper sheet you'll need to anneal the metal. ToAnneal copper, place the metal on your annealing surface, like a charcoal block, and heat it with a large bushy flame from a micro torch until it's a homogeneous dull red. Turn off the torch and let the metal cool slightly, then finish by quenching it in water. This process makes the metal softer.

Using Embossed Paper for Rolling Mill Printing

If you've annealed the metal properly then the skin of the metal will have turned black. To make it shiny again you'll want to pickle and clean the surface with a brass brush to make it shiny again.

Using Embossed Paper for Rolling Mill Printing

Once the metal is shiny again, place the paper, embossed side against the metal, and run it through the rolling mill. If you've never seen roll printing, or are wondering how to do it, Rio Grande has a great video that shows you better than I could.

So, how did my sample turn out?

Using Embossed Paper for Rolling Mill Printing

Once it came out of the rolling mill I noticed two things. First, the embossing powder totally stuck in the grooves. I had to use some hot water and the brass brush again to get it all out. Second, the impression was not very deep. However, since I didn't actually pickle and clean this particular sample, once I cleaned up the surface the recesses really stood out and I was, in the end, really happy with the depth of the impression. It's deep enough to give the metal character without being so deep that it affects the way I can use the metal.

So, do you have a rolling mill? If not, is it something you've ever wanted to try? What would you want to do with one? If you have one, have you tried this before? What interesting things have you done with your mill? Would you try this?

Thanks, all, for stopping in! I always appreciate it!

1 comment:

  1. This looks like fun. I've got the metal, rolling mill, stamps, and heat gun. I'm going to have to get some embossing powder and try this out. Thanks for sharing.

    I would love to see the metal piece cleaned up and/or used in something to get a better idea of the depth.