Coloring Metal, Part One: Embossing Powder

Metal flower colored with embossing powder

If you’ve ever wanted to customize metal embellishments for jewelry or other craft projects, this series is for you! I’ll cover several different ways to add color to metal, and the best part is that they all use tools and materials available at craft or scrapbooking stores – so you won’t have to invest in a bunch of expensive jewelry/metal tools.

For the first one, you’ll need an embossing ink pad, embossing powder, and a heat tool. I used Tim Holtz Distress Embossing Powder, Recollections Pearl Embossing Powder {sold at Michaels Craft Stores}, Stampendous Embossing Powder, Distress Embossing Ink, and a heat tool {mine is by Marvy but I’ve seen good reviews of the Ranger one}.

Anywhere you want to add color to your metal piece, press the embossing ink pad onto it.

Place your inked metal on a piece of scrap paper and pour embossing powder all over it. Pick up the piece and shake off the excess powder {back into the container, ideally, so you can use it later}.

Place the metal piece on a heat-proof surface, then use the heat tool to melt the embossing powder. Let it cool before touching it. Metal gets really hot, so letting it cool for a minute is an important step!

red metal flower

That’s it! So easy, and it looks great. If you’ve ever used embossing powder on a paper project, it’s the exact same process – the main difference is the safety tip of letting the metal completely cool before touching it.

two colored metal flowers

Tip: the embossing powder sometimes chips off, so I recommend sealing the color with something. I tried the glaze from the Vintag/Ranger patina line, and it does seem to make the finish more durable, although I haven’t really tried to chip it off…since I’ll probably use my metal pieces in jewelry, a durable finish is important, so I wouldn’t use the embossed metal without a sealer over it.

So pretty…love the distressed finish where spots didn’t get any embossing powder, and had fun adding a second color to bits of my flowers.

blue flower

If your embellishments have holes, you can layer a few together using a brad or a head pin with a bead strung on it.

layered flowers

Doesn’t that one above look kind of like a vintage enamel brooch?

another colored metal flower/leaf combo

flower ready to be made into jewelry
flower with multi-colored embossing powder

Some of these layered flowers are definitely going to become earrings or necklaces in the near future! I’ll swap out the brads I used for taking pictures with beaded head pins and attach to earring findings or string on a chain.

Note about different embossing powders: after experimenting with the assorted embossing powders in my stash, I realized that they all behave a bit differently. Tim Holtz Distress Embossing Powder gives a very different look from the Recollections Pearl Embossing Powder, which also looks very different from the Stampendous powders. The Recollections one was the easiest to work with for me – it melted well and didn’t get burned. Some of the Stampendous colors got a bit burned if I didn’t remove the heat tool quickly enough, which I didn’t mind for this project, but if you are going for a less distressed look, it could be an issue. The Distress powders were tricky at first, but I absolutely love the look and texture they give the pieces, so it was worth a little trial and error.

If you’ve never used a particular embossing powder before, I recommend testing it on a piece of scrap metal or even scrap paper to see how it reacts with your heat tool. That way you are more likely to get the results you want.

Also, if you look at my flowers, you’ll notice some have bare spots – this is because I didn’t work too hard at getting the embossing ink evenly coating everything – I wanted kind of a distressed looking finish, so that is a good thing here, but if you want a nice, even color, you’ll want to pay attention to where the embossing ink is going, and possibly do multiple coats.

Have fun playing with color! If you try this or have questions, let me know in the comments.

Links to buy embossing powder & inks online:
Complete set of distress embossing powder {gives a different look from the typical smooth embossing powder – love it for a distressed finish on metal}
perfect pearls kits like this one include a 1-inch perfect medium ink pad – my favorite embossing ink. Or you can get just the perfect medium ink pad here, or a larger perfect medium pad plus reinker here.
Distress embossing ink also works, and is good if you want a more distressed look
a pretty gold embossing powder
And these are the metal flowers that I used.

As always, if you use my affiliate links to buy your supplies, thank you for supporting my blog!

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