Saturday, March 7, 2015

Embossing Metal Using the Vintaj Big Kick + Matchsticks Componenants

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. 


Divya said...

Great post! I have a few question on embossing though. Will vintaj folders work with a sizzix machine and can sizzix folders be used to emboss metal? uptil what gauge of metal can be embossed?

Ema Kilroy said...

Hi Divya. Great questions. Here is some info I found on the Vintaj website "the BIGkick is compatible with most of the Sizzix product library (when using the Solo Platform and Shim, included)".

So to answer your question I would say yes the Vintaj folders are interchangeable with the Sizzix. I haven't used Sizzix folders myself but again I would think they could be used to emboss metal, particularly if they are similar to the Cuttlebug folders I have pictured. You may have to experiment a bit to get the depth of embossing you want. Adding a piece of paper or cardboard, as a shim, to the sandwich layers will change the depth of embossing achieved.

I'm going to update the post with metal gauge information.

Unknown said...

That is just amazing!

baymoondesign said...

Thanks for the tip about sandwiching a sheet of paper. Stampin Up also sells a machine that you can use.

Unknown said...

Nice post! The earring are lovely. Something else to add to the list of tools I'd like!!

Unknown said...

Nice post! The earring are lovely. Something else to add to the list of tools I'd like!!

Unknown said...

Thank you, great post! I just bought my Sizzix Vintaj machine and it is in the mail and on its way to me! Great suggestion about using the plastic folders for embossing. I'm still so new at it. I am getting so excited to get started! Thanks for your help!


Shai Williams said...

Great post! I have been eyeing the Big Kick and wondering if they were worth the cost. I think I am going to have to start saving my pennies.

Terri said...

Terrific post! I appreciate the tip of annealing and using the plastic embossing folders. Will be giving this one a try!

CraftyHope said...

Thanks so much for this quick, concise tutorial. I've been considering a machine like this but wasn't sure if it would do all that I wanted. You've got me considering it even more! Thanks for the concise and clear instructions and all the other information.

Unknown said...

Just want Shaiha to know that Walmart has an incredible deal right now for the Sizzix Vintaj machine. It also comes with a DecoEmboss & a DecoEtch with the machine for I think it was $76.??. I know that still pennies don't grow on trees but this is an awesome price! I hope that helps?

Sarajo Wentling said...

I love my big kick. I have some of the plastic Tim Holtz embossing folders and they don't work quite as well but I have tried annealing first.

Sneaky Burrito said...

Just wanted to say thanks for this post. I have some of the smaller Vintaj folders but they are basically good for small blanks and I wanted to do a whole strip for a cuff (I have tiny wrists so anything >5 inches in one dimension will work; I might rivet a thinner embossed sheet to a thicker base for stability). I think now I understand what I need. (I don't have the budget for a rolling mill but I do have the Vintaj Bigkick.)