by Laurie Dhandapani
– Craft Foam, 1/8″ or 1/4″ thick. I recommend black.
– Heat gun or hot, dry iron
– Heat resistant ironing surface or Teflon sheet
– Stamps: Select hard (red or grey) stamps that have deep grooves and are not too detailed. Foam stamps DO NOT work for this process.
– Paints: acrylic (Deco Americana, Folkart, etc.), Paintstiks or (my personal favorite) Lumiere by Jacquard. You may also want to try Pearl Ex by Jacquard — this is a powder which can be added to paint or brushed on after paint has been applied to create a luminous effect.
– Paper towel or cloth rag
– Small paint brush
– Stylus or other pointed tool to create marks in the foam
– Brads, beads or other materials for attaching
– Micron Pigma pens or Zig liner (optional)
1. Assemble all supplies. Place the craft foam on the heat-resistant surface and turn on the heat gun or iron.
2. Heat an area of the craft foam slightly larger than the stamp you are using. If you are using a hot iron, hover the iron close to the surface of the craft foam, do not make direct contact.
3. As soon as the surface is shiny, turn off the heat gun. If you overheat the foam it will turn dull and will not be able to be embossed. Working quickly, press the stamp into the surface of the foam, holding it in place for a few seconds. Lift the stamp to reveal the impression.
Note: If the impression is not clear you cannot reheat the area. Two options are: 1. Repeat the process in another area of the craft foam. 2. Create deeper marks in the foam using a stylus or similar tool.
4. When you are satisfied with the embossed impression, cut out the design to the size and shape of the desired finished piece.
5. It’s time to add color! Remember: It’s always easier to add more than it is to remove paint! I generally use three colors to create a layered, burnished effect. Using any of the paint types listed, add a little color at a time. Paint can be applied using a small paintbrush or your fingertip. With either method, dip into the paint and dab onto a paper towel or cloth to remove excess.
If the paint is applied on the raised surface the foam color will show through, adding to the layered look. Add paint in stages, allowing each application to dry before adding the next color. Remember to add color to the edges of the piece.
When all the colors have been applied, use a soft paint brush or your finger to add highlights with lighter/brighter colors or experiment with Pearl Ex colors to add shimmer.
If the etched areas have been covered in the painting process, go back with a Micron Pigma pen or Zig liner to color those lines.
Let dry completely before attaching to a larger art piece.
6. Finished foam pieces can be attached to a larger piece of art by gluing or by mechanical means. I like to use small brads to attach my pieces. Find them in most scrap booking departments. Holes can easily be created with a stylus or a large embroidery needle.
Next, beads were sewn through the craft foam using beading thread in a neutral color and a #11 milliner’s needle.
Tip: It can be helpful to create a hole in the foam with a thicker needle first. A chenille #22 needle works well for this.
The beaded piece was glued onto a prepared Lutradur base.