Hello friends! If you are following along with my embossing leather series AND you are a jeweler with metal pattern plates, AND you also have a Big Shot or other die cut machine then this post is for you!
NOTE: you should be very careful doing any of this embossing with your die cut machines especially if you have a warranty as I’m sure this would not be covered ;). You should check out my introductory post if you haven’t already. It’s long, but I talk about how to prepare the leather as well as other tips and warnings for using your die cut machines with leather. I will also keep that post updated with useful information as I go along. These machines can be broken if you don’t know what you are doing so please be careful!
Make sure you are very comfortable with using your die cut machine and know when a stack is too thick. I would not attempt especially this leather project unless you are very comfortable and know what you are doing with your die cut machines! Do NOT FORCE anything through your die cut machine! It should be a tiny bit stiff to roll through but not super hard where you have to really crank the machine. I would NOT use these techniques in an electrical/motorized machine!
I have beautiful pattern plates from Potter Press. I still want his hydraulic press, but in the meantime I am collecting some of his plates and dies and trying to make the most use out of them. I use his dies with metal clay (maybe I’ll blog about that in the future) and I even have a quirky way to use them in an upcoming stamping series ;).
In this post/video I show you how to use a pattern plate to emboss into a piece of leather. Typically these are used in a rolling mill to texturize metal. However, leather needs to be damp in order to impress designs into it, and while I was OK with allowing damp leather to touch my pattern plates, I did not want to take that chance with my rolling mill!
So I will be using a Sizzix Big Shot, but if you have another die cutting/embossing machine, you can try that as well. I will add a little bit about using the Accucut Grande Mark machine later.
Another warning for this project- as I mentioned in my intro video, you must dampen the leather before attempting to impress designs into it. These pattern plates are steel, so you want to make sure that you wipe them off immediately after rolling the leather. The plate I show in my video had already started to rust. I work in a basement, so I’m kind of stuck with a little bit of rusting here and there, especially in the summer. Kevin Potter/Potter Press’s facebook page has lots of information on how to deal with this issue, if you search it. But in order to not encourage the rust, wipe the plate off well immediately.
Also, these pattern plates, as you use them in the rolling mill, start to bend. I was a little nervous about using it in the Big Shot, but the one I chose was not super curved and it ended up working fine. If you are going to try this on your own, I’d advise to use plates that are fairly straight.
In the video, you will follow along in the struggle I had to get the correct sandwich for this embossing project 🙂 . It was a little trickier than some of my other experiments because I couldn’t use the normal Sizzix Multiuse platform to take up a lot of space. Using that with the pattern plate would have been too tight when rolling through the Big Shot and I did not want to break my machine! I ended up using a regular Sizzix Cutting mat, 2 Magic Mats from Scrapbook.com (these should be the same depth as the regular cutting mats), another what I believe is an embossing mat. This may be a hair thicker than the cutting mats, but don’t quote me on that 😉 .
I place the pattern plate on the final stack of mats I chose to fill the space where the usual multipurpose platform would go. Then I cover the pattern plate with my piece of leather (good side down against the design), then the embossing rubber and finally the embossing mat. I roll through the machine and the pattern plate impresses the leather beautifully!
After several experiments, I now try to cut my leather to match the design on the plate (or other items I am using to impress leather), if it is not an allover print. I also show an example of taping the leather down to avoid shifting. I will say that at the time I wasn’t sure whether the tape would discolor the back of the leather, but as I’ve played around with it, the small pieces of tape did leave strips of discoloration as well as a different texture. Using a few coats of leather stain can camouflage the stripes, but to avoid this you could also either not tape the leather down, or tape the whole thing, or use a longer length of leather and tape the ends that you will then cut off. I also bought some leather burnishing tips for my rotary tool and I use them on the back after I have stained and or used a leather finisher like Resolene and it softens the leather to make the texture more uniform.
In the follow up clips at the end of the video, I use cutting mats from Accucut. These mats can be cut with metal shears and I buy a few extra to always have on hand to cut and emboss with. They are similar in size to the Sizzix Big Shot mats but way easier to cut down to size. Being able to modify the shape and size is nice because die cut machines will only cut or emboss if they are covered by one of the plates. With these mats cut to just cover the design without covering the hard edges of the plate or other item you are using to impress the leather, you can avoid ridges from the ends, and/or as I show in the last follow up clip, you can use a small piece to just impress a single part of the design to fill in an empty/missed space.
Note that I’m using the Sizzix Big Shot here because I assumed more people have this machine than the Accucut Grande Mark. But I have that machine as well, and it’s still one of my all time favorite machines. Accucut used to make embossing plastic/acrylic plates to emboss paper and there was a platform to work with those plates. I have to say I never really thought that all worked very well to emboss paper, but using this platform (and even the plates!) with leather to run through the Accucut machine works fabulously. It doesn’t look like they still make this platform unfortunately, but if you already have it, this platform makes it a lot easier than trying to use a stack of other cutting mats. This platform unfortunately is too wide to fit in the Big Shot (that I own at least).
FWIW, the aforementioned Accucut embossing platform that I use with the pattern plates (the stacks will be different depending on what you are using to emboss), in the Accucut machine measures about 5/8 of an inch in depth. I sometimes still have to shim with either paper or thin plastic/mylar. Your stack might measure differently. If you are going to be doing a lot of this and if you are lucky enough to have someone who can cut a hard piece of plastic/acrylic (or you can do it yourself!), once you figure out your normal depth of the stacks you typically use (minus the leather and the embossing item and top mat) you could cut a piece to the measurements that works with your die cut machine. The Big Shot sandwich in this experiment, as far as I can tell, was similar in depth to the Accucut platform, but again this will depend on whether you are using the multiuse platform or not (as in this experiment). My suggestion is to determine the stack that will work with your machine underneath the item you are trying to use to impress the design (the pattern plate in this case). This will also not include the leather and the mat that goes on top. So when you determine just the bottom depth of the stack, then if you want to explore getting a piece of hard acrylic/plastic cut to that depth, that would be the best alternative. Hope this makes sense!
Once you determine your stacks for the items you are trying to impress, I would keep track of them for the next time 🙂 .
Here are some examples of this experiment:
Hope you enjoy this video!