Tuesday, 19 November 2013


Today we had a workshop that introduced us to the embossing process, focusing on creating a copper plate for an emboss/deboss.

We started the session by having a brief discussion regarding the process.
Below are some important points discussed;
  • Plates can be made from plastic, wood, card, mdf or wooden mount-board.
  • The material you emboss has to be weaker than your emboss plate.
  • A deeper plate depth does not always make for a better print.
  • Two types of embossing one raises the surface of the paper the other lowers it.
  • Metal plates work best for lowering the stock.
  • Tiny fonts don't come out that well.
  • Some papers work better under different pressures, make sure you experiment to find the optimum pressure.

  • To start the process the copper plate needs to be sanded down so that the surface is smooth and free from any deep surface scratches.

  • Next, degrease the plate by pouring degreaser onto the plate while scrubbing it with a sponge, once clean rinse with water.

  • The best method of drying is to blot the plate with newsprint.

  • Place the plate face down on a sheet of tracing paper.

  • Peel away the frosted sheet from the light sensitive paper and carefully lay over the plate, ensure that there are no air bubbles trapped between the paper and plate.
  • Tighten the press to as tight as it will go and and send the plate through the press.
  • Once out the other side check for bubbles and wrinkles and send it back through the press.

  • Trim off the excess using a razor blade.

  • Solution - Sodium carbonate, approximately 10g to 1L of water.
  • Use hot water at first to dilute the powder then add up to the liter mark with cold water. The solution need to be 18 Degrees Celsius.
  • Best to do three mixes as it levels the solidity and temperature out.

  • Use scotch tape (magic tape) to hold the plate and the positive together in the exposure.

  • When exposing place the positive ink side down.
  • Any lettering should be reversed.
  • The plate needs 9-10 light units in the exposing machine.

  • After the exposure you need to remove the clear layer of the light sensitive film and place the plate in the liquid solution prepared before.
  • For a normal photo etching the plate will need two minutes in the solution.
  • For an emboss the plate will need up to ten minutes in the solution.
  • While in the solution rub the plate with a sponge at intervals of around thirty seconds.

  • Once the plate has been in the solution for around ten minutes you can remove it and rinse with cold water.
  • Then dry with newsprint.
  • Use the light to check for small imperfections left on the plate.
  • Once the plate has hardened tape up the back of the plate with parcel tape ensuring that there are no gaps or bubbles.
  • Then trim the excess using a razor blade. 

  • But the hook right up to the plate and attach it to the back using brown parcel tape.
  • The hook holds the plate while in the acid.

  • Place the plate into the acid and leave for around eight hours.
  • Turn the plate at four hours to even out the acid etching.

  • To prepare the plate for the press you need to first place the plate down with your chosen stock on top. 
  • Next, place a wad of tissue paper or newsprint on top of the paper and place the arrangement into the press.

  • Before pumping the hydraulic press tighten the screw and ensure that the black button is out.
  • Next, pump the handle until it wont go any further and then press in the black button.
  • Keep pumping
  • The higher the pressure the cleaner the emboss will be.
  • Pump until around 360 bar of pressure and then untighten the screw to release the pressure.

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