The Calligrapher's Life

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Impressed with Embossing

You open a special card for your birthday and quickly admire the embellishments covering the front. From glitter to whimsical watercolor art, the beauty and charm of this personalized card thoroughly impress you. Then, your eye catches the raised lettering that spells out H-A-P-P-Y B-I-R-T-H-D-A-Y and you’re wondering, “How’d she do that?”

The art of a raised design or letter on a surface is called embossing. The process requires a stenciled design or letter and a stylus, which is a pen-shaped object with two knobs on each end. The stylus is an excellent tool for making smooth grooves along the stencil while creating a 3D effect when the paper is turned over.

But, try making your own stencil from scratch.

In this week’s class, Ms. Close demonstrated the process of transferring our own letter design onto manila folder paper. After cutting out the custom-designed letter with an X-acto knife, we had to place the pieces together with tape in order to create interior loops for each letter. From start to finish, my first letter took about half the class time to complete.

Throughout the whole process, I experienced disbelief that I would complete the stencil correctly, so I just followed the steps slowly until I finished it. Believe it or not, I mastered this technique in the first try. You can bet I’m patting myself on the back for this one since a few classmates asked for my assistance. It felt good to know I created the embossed letter without direct help from the instructor. And, to top it off, the finished product looked like I had used a store-brought stencil. Not bad for a rookie.

By the time class ended, three letter stencils were complete for my embossed monogram.

What a nice change – I actually awed a few classmates with an art activity. Now, I can’t wait to impress family and friends with a custom-made embossed card.

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