Stamping and Colouring Acetate

Stamping and Colouring Acetate Techniques are from the class sheets of the popular classes given by Freyja

PearlEx Card PearlEx Card


Acetate is a non-porous clear film used both for art and office/computer work. The overhead projector films sold by office suppliers have different coatings according to use; laser or inkjet printing, photocopying and for handwritten presentations. These are very suitable for stamping and embossing, as they are heat resistant with the exception of hand writing film that can be stamped but not embossed. Laser film is the most expensive and photocopy film the cheapest. It is not worth paying the extra for ink-jet film unless you want to use some of it for printing. There are several craft films available including a very useful sticky backed version. Make sure that the film is suitable for heat embossing before buying � some are not. Clear acetate office folders are also fine for stamping but not embossing.
For foiling, dry PearlEx and glitter work, use sticky back acetate or regular craft acetate with double-sided photo-mount or a Xyron machine.



Treat acetate like glossy card or glass. Many inks are not suitable as they will not dry, also the surface is slippery and more difficult than paper. A well-inked stamp only needs to gently touch the surface to transfer colour and avoid slipping and blurring the image unless the inkpad is dry when more pressure is needed, try pressing the acetate over the inked stamp. Works well with dry pads and is easier to do than it seems. Embossing is ideal, both pigment and many dye inks will emboss. However, it is advisable to use an anti-static pad first; it really does help, as acetates are very static. With these measures even black powder can be used cleanly. Keep fingers off the surface as oils are easily transferred and totally spoil images. After applying powder give the film a really good tap or flick on the back to remove excess flecks for a cleaner image, it will not dislodge the embossed areas. A small brush will further remove unwanted specks of powder.

Inks that dry

  • Brilliance pigment pads giving a lovely metallic sheen, can be embossed
  • Ancient Page and other waterproof, archival dye inkpads help with heat or leave to dry.
  • Stazon - excellent on acetate.
  • Colour Box Fluid Chalk Dye Inkpads
  • Fabrico - heat to dry and set.

Embossing is not always necessary. When colouring colour on the inked side to avoid smearing the finished image. When embossed colour on the reverse side. There are so many stunning powders available and you can mix your own with Pearl-Ex, glitter etc. when an embossed effect is preferred. There is no harm in trying any product on acetate, it might work for you.

Colouring images.

As with inks, many forms of colouring will not 'take' on acetate. Treat as glass; most water based products will not dry on acetate unless having an acrylic or thixanthropic (glass paint) content. Sometimes a second coat might be needed, let dry between coats.

  • Glass paint water and solvent based.
  • Acrylic paint, metallic and plain.
  • Brilliance pigment ink applied with tissue around a finger straight from the pad. Rub for background colour, dab for stronger effect. Use reinkers with a brush.
  • Some felt tips, inks - try
  • Liquid Pearls mix Platinum with acrylic for colours
  • Perfect Pearls and PearlEx mixed with Johnson's 'Klear' floor polish
  • Some white p.v.a. glues/primers mixed with pigments or acrylic paint.
  • Some fabric paints such as Stewart Gill.
  • Nail Varnish for wonderful effects. Paint in curved swathes of two or three toning colours onto classical designs. Paint over inked side of the acetate, the varnish will not blur or smudge the ink.

Using Acetate on Your Cards

Acetate is perfect for applying foils, glitter and Peel Offs.
Be careful with adhesives. Some solvent based including some double-sided tapes will buckle. If overlays can be attached with split pins, eyelets, ribbon, photo-corners, thread etc; no glue will usually be necessary.
Also consider using 'Appli Glue' water based, many colours, very firm hold and the glue shows through the acetate attractively.
Silicone glue, also used for 3D fixing is excellent for acetate but will show and tiny pieces of glue stick heated with your gun will make a very firm bond.
Photo corners are ideal for attaching an acetate panel to a card. Paint if necessary before using.
Be creative, when an image is coloured or embossed there are often areas where a piece of tape or drop of glue on the reverse would not show when attached.
Consider using glue/tape underneath and one of the many attractive available peel offs on top to hide any marks.
An imperfectly stamped and coloured image can look stunning with a gold/silver embossed acetate overlay of the same image which hides the 'bad bits'.
Stamp and /or emboss a greeting or message onto acetate and experiment for the best placement over any card on which it is difficult to add a stamped greeting.
Ditto above using small images, try embossed and cut out snowflakes and holly sprigs for Christmas Cards.
Use large square, round or shaped punches to make apertures and back with acetate and stamped or peel-off little windows.
As above but use adhesive backed acetate and glitter, foil, craft beads or similar to fill punched apertures. Clear peel-offs squares are ideal for this.

Acetate is a creative and exciting material which will add new texture and dimension to your stamping. You will discover lots new ideas as you use it.

Have fun and experiment.

©Freyja Lee for Blade Rubber Stamps 2009
Freyja is a regular teacher of popular Classes at Blade Rubber

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