SPECIAL - Embossed Vinyl Tutorial

I've stumbled upon a new way to create a decorated surface for an object or a piece of armor. It doesn't require you to paint the surface and doesn't allow for a sharp amount of detail (so if you want to create a finely-detailed piece with a lot of painted-in subtleties, this might not be the method for you.) What it does do is create an object that looks as though it was fashioned out of tooled metal (which is an interesting effect and one you may want to create after viewing this tutorial.)

Here's the object that I'll be making (circled in blue):



It's a fuzzy screenshot with not a lot of detail, so I'm free to use my imagination in putting the object together.

Step One was to draw the general shape of the heart onto a piece of 3mm thick craft foam:



To ensure the symmetry of the piece, I cut out one side of the heart with a scissors, folded it over and then traced and cut out the other side.



I cut a heart-shaped piece out of the middle of the craft foam and then hotglued the craft foam onto a scrap of .020" styrene.



I cut away the excess styrene around the heart, remembering also to cut out the styrene in the heart-shaped piece lying in the middle of the foam.



Using a keen eye and my own imagination, I drew the design that I wanted to emboss onto the surface of the styrene. I tried not to make any area within the design wider than 1/2" since doing so would make the next few steps of this process difficult.



After drawing the design I needed to emboss onto the heart shape, I took my hotglue gun....

Carefully, I squeezed out a stream of hotglue onto the areas of the design that I wanted to be raised:



I had to make sure I applied the hotglue one line or one shape at a time, with plenty of space in between the areas of freshly applied glue. (This kept the design from running together and becoming indistinct.)



Now, if I had chosen to, I could have painted the surface with metallic enamel. I could also have brushed in some brown, black, or red enamel paint to make the surface of the ornament appear rusted or antiqued. But since this ornament was going to be placed on the wearer's body in a position where it was likely to be sat on, I elected to coat the heart shape with gold metallic vinyl instead.



You can find metallic PVC vinyl on ebay (some sellers there sell it by the yard) or you can find it online at http://www.mjtrends.com/ JoAnn's fabric stores will often sell metallic or colored PVC vinyl around Halloween time, (and if you're really lucky, you might be able to find it there deeply discounted at the end of the Halloween season.)The PVC vinyl will have the shiny surface on one side, and a plain white surface on the other.

To begin the embossing process, I laid down my foam and styrene heart onto the plain side of the fabric and drew a line around it that was spaced about an inch and a half away from the heart on all sides. I then cut around the line with a scissors.



Now it was time to apply the coating of metallic vinyl that would act as the final surface for the ornament. To start with, I took my hotglue gun and began squeezing out thin lines just around the outer borders of the raised areas (represented by the lines marked off in red:)



I could only apply the fresh hotglue to a small area of the ornament at a time, starting at one of the upper corners. After doing this, I then draped the metallic vinyl over the surface of the ornament and lightly pressed it into the area that I had applied the hotglue to.

I used the blunted tip of a paintbrush for my embossing stencil, but any blunt stick of wood will do for this next step. Gently, I rubbed the tool over the areas where I had applied the hotglue, pressing it into the "valleys" between the raised areas of the design.



By the time I had finished with that area, the hotglue had cooled. It was time to move onto the next adjoining area of the ornament's surface. I lifted up the vinyl coating and applied hotglue to the next section of the ornament that I was going to emboss. I made sure that the new hotglue was laid down as close to the outer borders of the raised design as possible.



Again, I took my stencil and pressed it into the areas that I had applied hotglue to. It takes a steady hand and a good deal of patience to keep from wrinkling the surface of the vinyl.



The detail isn't going to be crystal-clear, but it will look pretty close to how it would look if you were to emboss a thin sheet of metal with a pointed tool. This method of decoration looks especially nice for any designs that involve a lot of scrollwork or which have a "primitive" tribal look to them.



Once the entire design had been embossed and had cooled, I turned over the ornament, exposing its back side with the metallic vinyl sticking out from beyond the edges of the craft foam piece. In the next step, I would cut the extra overhanging vinyl into tabs and then hotglue said tabs to the back of the ornament to give it nice, clean, overturned edges.



I started with the heart-shaped hole in the center:



Then I cut the vinyl around the edges into tabs and hotglued said tabs onto the back side of the craft foam.



I carefully stretched the vinyl tabs as I hotglued them to keep their surface (and the edges of the ornament) free from wrinkles. This was what I had when I was finished with everything:



And there you go: an embossed craft foam and vinyl ornament that's capable of taking a lot of abuse (including being sat on) without cracking or breaking. I hope my explanations made sense. Feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions for me. Questions? Comments? Leave 'em below or e-mail me at dietzt@REMOVEMEcloudnet.com
(Address is spambot-protected. Remember to remove the "REMOVEME" before you send it.)

Thank you.