Today let's take a look at a fun and easy way to emboss metals using the Vintaj Big Kick.
This was the first machine I used to add texture to metals.
The Big Kick is a table top machine made for the purpose of embossing and etching (impressing) metal.
Vintaj embossing folders.
Embossing creates a raised image on one side and a recessed image on the opposite side of the metal.
Vintaj etching plates.
Vintaj refers to these plates as etching plates but I prefer to call them impression plates. Many of us in the jewelry making world have a different idea of what is involved in etching metals. Impressing creates an image on one side of the metal. I'm not going to go into detail about using the impressing plates in this post. The process is fairly similar to using the embossing plates.
I've also discovered that plastic folders (made for embossing scrapbooking papers) work to emboss metal. The larger size of these folders is convenient for embossing full sheets of metal.
It's important to anneal your metal before using the folders. Annealing is the process of using a torch (butane, propane/oxygen, or acetylene for example) to heat the metal to a dull red glow which will soften the metal, allowing for the image to be embossed into the metal with less stress on your body and your tools. Especially if using the plastic folders the metal must be annealed. Given that the folders are plastic they will wear out but they are inexpensive enough (especially if you shop with coupons) that I'm willing to replace them as needed.
Insert the metal sheet or metal blank into the folder.
Vintaj recommends using 20 - 24 gauge metal. I generally use a 20 gauge metal for jewelry components.
Layer the folder in between the two plastic plates which come with the machine. Easy to follow instructions are provided with the machine.
A view of the layers.
A plastic plate, the folder sandwich, a plastic plate.
Turn the handle to move the plated sandwhich through the machine. I usually place my hand on top of the machine to hold it in place while turning the handle.
The embossed sheet, in it's annealed and unfinished state.
A great benefit of using the plastic folders is the ability to clearly see the image which will be embossed into the metal. You're able to capture the exact image you want on your piece.
I dug out my Big Kick because I had an idea for a simple, matchstick pair of earrings I wanted for myself. I'm trying to find/create a pair of earrings that can actually be seen under my massive amount of hair. I thought silver might have a better chance of being seen. It's been a long time since I've worked with sterling silver. It was a pleasure to work with it again.
I'm loving these split look designs.
I created matchsticks to share with you. You can visit my Etsy shop to find yours.
Where you can find the Vintaj Big Kick for sale:
I purchased mine directly from Vintaj a few years ago.
Michaels and Hobby Lobby with a coupon will get you a great deal. Although I'm not sure if Michaels is carrying them any more.
I also found the machine online at scrapbooking stores, here is one.
If you can't find a Big Kick I believe the Sizzix embossing machines are the exact same thing.
Are you ready to start embossing metal?
Ema Kilroy is a lampworker and metalsmith living and working in Central Massachusetts.