Experimenting with the Stampin’ Up! Letterpress Dies

As I mentioned last week, I received the new Letterpress Dies and made my first card using the method recommended on the packaging.  However, I’m not always good with rules and recommendations and so I had to start experimenting myself with how these dies worked with different inks, paper, and BigShot “sandwich” combinations.

I wanted to share my results with you so you could try some of these ideas out yourself or avoid the methods that didn’t work so well.

But first – a new sample using the bigger Trick or Treat letterpress die:

The green ribbon in the Pumpkin Pie button is actually the 1/4” Old Olive grosgrain ribbon cut in half.  If you do this to thread through a button, I highly recommend using a needle to thread it through the holes.  I was using the “wet the end of the ribbon, twist, squint, shove, and hope enough gets through to grab with your fingernails” technique.  Lets just say the ribbon frays much more easily that way.

Experimenting with Paper, Ink, and BigShot techniques

Click Read More to see my experiments with the Letterpress dies including photos for the different papers, inks, and techniques I used.


First, I started playing with paper.  The documentation with the dies recommends paper that has “weakened fibers” such as textured cardstock and watercolor paper.  However, for whatever reason, I grabbed Confetti White cardstock for my first card.  It actually impressed pretty well, so I thought I would see what the differences were with other types of paper.

Confetti White
This was my first try and it worked well.  I got a deep embossing and it looked clean and crisp after being run through.

Textured White Cardstock
Per, SU’s recommendation, I found some textured paper and tried it out.  I think it worked well, but I think the Confetti White paper gave me a slightly deeper impression.

Watercoloring Paper
As far as impressions went, this was pretty similar to the Confetti White paper for me, but I think it held the ink really well.  So, a bit of a toss depending on what you have around but I liked the results.

Crumb Cake Cardstock
I have to admit, I think this gave a very clean and deep image.  I was surprised and really liked the results.  However, I’m not sure if it was the paper, that the paper was colored, or something else, but the ink color did not show up as richly as the other papers.

Whisper White Cardstock
Definitely the worst performer of the bunch.  I LOVE stamping on Whisper White paper but when it comes to debossing, WW paper was just not willing to bend and take the impression as well as I expected.  So the color was well saturated on the paper but because the impression was faint, you didn’t get quite the effect and the ink actually smeared a bit on the paper.


Next, I decided to play with different inks for coloring my dies.  Stampin’ Up! recommends Craft Ink to ensure an even coverage on your debossed image.  Well, I wanted to make my Trick or Treat design multi-colored but I didn’t have Craft Ink Spots in the colors I wanted to use, so I thought I would try markers. Disaster!!  The plastic of the die kept causing the ink to bead up as I was coloring the plates and as you can see below (upper left), it showed.

I used Pumpkin Pie classic ink to create the orange sample and I was pretty happy with the results.  Then finally I tried Always Artichoke Craft Ink to be able to compare results.

End result, I think Craft Ink (pigment ink) does work better but Classic Ink (dye ink) can work fine as well.  Markers… wouldn’t recommend it. Smile

Impression Techniques

Ok, finally, I decided to look at the technique used to create the image in the BigShot.  The packaging recommended the following sandwich from top to bottom:

  1. Acrylic Cutting Mat
  2. Paper
  3. Letterpress Die
  4. Cutting Platform set on Tab 1

Well, my mom discovered that you can replace the cutting mat (#1) with the Premium Crease Pad and get a deeper image.  Well, I didn’t have the crease pad but I thought, I have the Texture Impressions Pad and Silicone Rubber Pad.  So I replaced the Cutting Mat with those two items, so my modified “sandwich” looked like this:

  1. Texture Impression Pad
  2. Texture Impressions Silicone Rubber Pad
  3. Paper
  4. Letterpress Die
  5. Cutting Platform set on Tab 1

Ended up, it turned out pretty well!  I got a deeper impression, but it also made the paper more “bubbly”.  So, with the first sandwich style, you get a smooth and flat surface with a debossed image; with the second sandwich style you get a more rounded surface with a deeper debossed image.  It was hard to show the front, so to show you the difference in depth, I thought I would show you the backs of the papers (the recommended sandwich is on the left, my modified version is on the right):

Now, I did try adding the rubber pad and using the Acrylic Cutting Mat, but it wouldn’t fit through the BigShot and just the rubber pad alone went through without pressing down on the die.  So, I would recommend one of the two sandwiches listed above.

So there you have my results.  Try them out for yourself.  Let me know what you have found works for you and what your favorite combinations are!

If you want to try these projects yourself and need any of the supplies discussed above, you can order any of them 24/7 from my online store.

9 responses to “Experimenting with the Stampin’ Up! Letterpress Dies”

  1. Thanks for doing this – I started doing the same thing because I wasn’t getting any of the embossing just the ink – that was on the whisper white – today I switch to the natural white, I need to try the confetti white. I also tried different sandwiches like you did – I think I decided on using a card stock shim along with the recommendations from the package. But I’m going to try a couple of other things after reading your experiments – it sounds like the Whisper White card stock doesn’t bend much.
    I also thought that the smaller plates seemed to emboss more than the large ones.

  2. Thanks so much for experimenting and posting all the pictures so we can compare the results for ourselves too. Your card looks great, and I’m looking forward to trying this out myself!

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