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Gel Press Techniques #1: Embossed Acetate

Acetate sheets are an extremely useful resource for crafters. Did you know that you can put them through your embossing folders? I didn’t know about this trick until my friend Christine told me about it. Now I am sharing what I have made, using the combination of embossed acetate with my Gel Press printing plate.

You will need:

  • A die cutting/embossing machine – I use the Sizzix Big Shot
  • Embossing folders
  • Acetate sheets
  • Gel press or similar
  • Acrylic paint
  • Brayer (this is a roller which you use to apply the paint in an even layer)
  • Computer paper or lightweight cardstock

I am assuming that if you have all the above equipment that you do know how to use it, but if you are entirely new to all this then please ask me a question if you don’t know where to start.

How to use this embossed acetate technique to make prints

The basics are that you make a sandwich with your acetate sheet and the embossing folder, which you then feed through your embossing machine. The rollers in the machine squeeze the sandwich as it passes through, and when it comes out the other side your acetate has an embossed texture to it. Cool, eh?

Next you need to apply a thin layer of paint to the printing plate with the brayer. While the paint is still wet, you have to gently press the embossed acetate on the printing plate. When you lift it up you will see it has left a pattern in the paint. Allow it to dry slightly and then apply a layer of different colour paint over the top. Then “pull” your first print by placing a sheet of paper over the top, press it firmly all over with your hand, or run the brayer over it, then lift it up.

A purple and white printed flower pattern made with embossed acetate


I don’t clean my plate properly between prints and therefore you can build up some very interesting layers as you go along.

A dark blue flower patterm printed on a light background with pink stripes
This print uses the “negative” of the acetate sheet – making use of the paint that is left on the sheet after the first print
A blue and beige pattern made with a mix of embossed acetate pieces

You can use a combination of patterns on one print for a different effect.

A pink and cream patterm made with a mix of embossed acetate pieces

The delicate pattern on this piece has just a hint of grunge from older prints.

While I was experimenting with the acetate, I also tried the bubble wrap technique and it did not disappoint – what do you think?

White dots on pink background pattern printed using bubble wrap
I am using this photo as a wallpaper on my phone 🙂

See how I used bubble wrap when I painted the bird house kit: https://marieceline.co.uk/mini-3d-birdhouse-part-one

What to make with all those prints?

I made about 40 prints using this technique, some better than others. Most of them will become backgrounds for cards or ATCs (Artist Trading Cards), or I can use them in my die cutting. Some people use them in their art journals. There are many uses for them really – endless possibilities … I certainly feel that my Gel Press was a worthwhile purchase. Any piece of craft equipment that has more than one use is worth having, and finding new ways to use my embossing folders gives them new life. Incidentally, you can print directly with the embossing folders if you don’t mind having to wash the paint off after. I prefer to use embossed acetate as you don’t have to clean it.

So, here’s just an idea of what I might make with one of the prints:

three pink paper roses and a three blue and white leaves on a blue and white printed background

Nothing is stuck down yet, it is just a developing idea. The roses are handmade from watercolour paper. The leaves are die cut from craft foam. I had used them to print with too, hence the mottled paint on them. I think this would look great in a box frame and I am considering adding a sepia photo to it to complete the shabby chic/vintage look.

Thanks for reading!

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19 thoughts on “Gel Press Techniques #1: Embossed Acetate”

  1. Pingback: Artist Trading Cards: July 2019 | What are ATCs | Artist Trading Card sizes

  2. These look awesome, thanks for sharing the technique Marie! I really love the bubble wrap effect on the pink, that is so cool. These would be great for scrapbooking and so many other creative projects. Thank you for the inspiration, fab post! <3 xx

    Bexa | http://www.hellobexa.com

  3. This is seriously cool! I look doing anything creative and definitely need to give this a go. I’ve never thought of putting acetate sheets through my embossing machine but it’s such a good idea!

    1. Thanks for commenting Alison. It’s something I wish I’d known a long time ago! I’ll definitely be using the technique again.

    1. Thanks for commenting Ellen. You never know how these prints are going to turn out and they’re guaranteed to be unique!

  4. You are so creative Marie…😊 we can use this technique for mixed media journaling as well…I loved the bubble wrap technique…so creative and beautifully designed 😊😊

    1. Thanks Rinki. I still haven’t started an art journal but I can see some of these prints might end up in a book 😃

  5. This is cool! This process almost reminds me of silk screening, which requires similar procedures. I love the grunge look, it looks so awesome! I have basically none of those items needed to make this but I enjoyed learning about it!

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