Friday, January 11, 2013

Comparing Heat Embossers

Hello again, Blogland! As some of you may know, I'm not a huge fan of heat embossing. It's messy. It's hard. It never turns out as nicely as I'm hoping it will. And despite all of this, I still try. Why? I don't know; peer pressure maybe? Anyway, the other day I decided that my issues with heat embossing could not possibly be my fault. Operator error is for other people. Ha! Feel free to take a moment for an epic eye roll. It's ok, I'll wait.

Well, in an effort to get a handle on this whole embossing situation I asked the fine folks over on the Papertrey Ink forum for heat embosser recommendations. Then yesterday I set out to find one of the suggested tools and cure all that ails me (a completely reasonable expectation for a heat embosser).

After checking a couple of stores I came upon the Martha Stewart Crafts heating tool. It had been suggested and I had a coupon, so I thought it was worth giving a try. So here's a comparison between my old heat tool (a Darice heat tool) and the new one I purchased yesterday. Keep in mind that you can click on any of the photos to see the details more closely.

Darice Heat Tool on the Left; Martha Stewart Crafts Heating Tool on the Right

In all of these photos I used exactly the same materials and methods. The only difference was the heat tool used to set the embossing powder.

I started with VersaMark Ink, Clear and White Filigree Embossing Powder,
a sentiment stamp and an image stamp from Snowflake Flurries and Kraft cardstock (not pictured)

I chose the stamps based on their detail. The snowflake is composed of thin lines and the sentiment includes both small and large print.

The first thing I did was stamp the snowflake with the VersaMark and sprinkle it with the clear powder. I heat set the first one and then repeated exactly the same steps with the second heat tool. The first thing I noticed with the snowflakes was the color difference.

Darice on the Left; Martha Stewart on the Right

The Darice snowflake was much darker than the Martha snowflake. It was also flatter and the edges weren't as crisp, but overall the image was acceptable on both. I also noticed in this first test that the Martha tool took a little longer to actually start melting the embossing powder.

The next test was a little more telling. I followed the same steps as the first test, except that I used white embossing powder.

Martha Stewart on the Left; Darice on the Right

On this one you can see the Darice image is more inconsistent and the color varies along the lines. The Martha image seemed to heat much more evenly and the lines seem more even. The embossing on the Martha image is also much more shiny and smooth.

Next, I did the clear powder test with the sentiment. Again I noticed that the clear powder set much darker with the Darice tool and the embossing seemed flatter, but overall both were acceptable.

Darice on the Left; Martha Stewart on the Right

The final test was the white powder on the sentiment. The differences were much more pronounced on this test.

Darice on the Top; Martha Stewart on the Bottom

The text actually fades a bit as it overheats under the Darice tool. This pitting and inconsistency is exactly the reason I've been so frustrated with embossing in the past. The Martha Stewart tool on the other hand seemed to do a much better job. The white embossing is much brighter, smoother, and more consistent.

So, in my personal opinion, my embossing troubles may have had as much to do with mediocre skill as a shoddy tool. My hypothesis going into this was that my Darice tool got too hot too fast and would often scorch within moments of being turned on. I didn't do any large-area embossing today, but I feel comfortable in my belief that I won't have as many troubles with the Martha Stewart tool in that regard.

Thanks for stopping by today! Have a wonderful weekend!

This is an independent comparison done entirely because I was curious. I am receiving absolutely no compensation for my review and the opinion is solely my own. Martha Stewart has no idea who I am (though I wouldn't mind knowing her - Martha, call me!).


Joan Bardee said...

thanks. I can't remember if I still have a heat gun, but I don't think so. this is very helpful should I decide to get one. you can really see the difference.

see mary stamp said...

Thanks for documenting your comparison. I love the look of heat embossing, but frequently get the pitting you described. I think I'll pick up another embossing tool (probably Martha's) to see how it compares.

Randi said...

Yea for coupons and your determination to make the perfect product:-)

Cindy O said...

Thanks for applying your scientific lab techniques to the embossing mystery!

resmith said...

Thank you for doing a comparison on the heat guns. I just might have to go out and use a coupon for a MS heat gun,and I might do embossing a little more.

Kathy Mc said...

Excellent job documenting your comparisons, Lizzie! This will be very helpful when I feel I need a new one as my current one is a Marvy but not that old. Happy Embossing!

Anonymous said...

I actually love heat embossing and the way it pops on a card. I have a Darice heat gun and a Tim Holtz heat gun (similar looking to the MS one you used). I'm happiest with the TH one as it doesn't seem to get to hot. Good quality emobbossing powder and a juicy VersaMark pad are also a must.

Billie A said...

wow you got me convinced. I just thought it was my powder and stamp not the tool. I will have to get the MS gun for sure. Thanks so much for the comparison.