Letterpress vs. Embossing/Debossing

I am just starting to learn about letterpress.
I have toyed with blind letterpress, which has a really neat effect.
I want to try embossing in paper.
Is there a way to do this on a letterpress? Is there any REASON to do it on a letterpress? If I were to use a somewhat soft backing behind the paper, could I get a good impression?
Perhaps there are other better ways of embossing.
Lastly, where do I get an embossing die made?
How do I imply what the 3-dimensional structure should ultimately look like when giving the image or file to somebody that creates an embossing die?
I apologize for all the questions but this website is the most excellent source of inspiration and answers I have come across.

Thanks in advance,

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Yes, you certainly can emboss on a platen or other letterpress press. Most photoengraving shops can provide you with a standard embossing die, and many offer a service of providing a counter-die which mounts on the platen to push the paper into the die. This counter-die can be produced on press, but starting out, it might be better to let the engraver provide the counter-die.

Embossing is best done with heat in a hot stamping press, but very good results can be accomplished without the heat as well.

Owosso Graphic Arts has a good “tech tip” on paper embossing on their website:


I hope this helps.

Thank you.
That really helps.

Have a great weekend.
Best, Nic

Decrevel is our source of foil and emboss/deboss dies.

Halftone images as well as Illustrator files are used to create dies. It seems that just about anything is possible so long as you can communicate to the diemaker.

A pdf to accompany the file that can better visualize your intention will help and you can talk to them on the phone also.

Good luck with this.


I just found this thread and am going to be attempting to emboss a ‘seal’ next week. I have the dies being made by owosso and have several different papers to experiment with.

My question is, how do you go about mounting the counter-die to the platen??? I have a kelsey 5x8, but assume the basic idea be similar on any platen press.

I’ve seen it done on a Pilot with double-stick tape to perfect results. The male die was matched up to the female with some tape which was locked up in the chase, and had more tape on it’s back. When the press was closed, the double-stick tape stuck the male die on the platen in the appropriate location. Doesn’t sound like the most hi-tech solution, but seemed to work fine.

Thanks, Widmark
I was afraid double stick tape wouldn’t be strong enough to hold for the whole run…. My husband is a machinist with access to all kinds of fun tools. I was thinking I’d have to have him make something for me, but couldn’t figure out how exactly to make it functional and re-usable for different size dies.
guess I’ll just try the tape and see what happens.

the embossing dies have holes drilled in them so does the counter, after positioning the die you have pins that fit in the holes to hold the counter to the die, you need a strong double sided tape on the back of the counter to stick the counter to the platen, after this is done i usually put masking tape around the edges of the counter to make sure it doesn’t move, then i use a piece of coated stock about 70# taped over the counter. heating the die works the best, but most times you can get good results without heat. good luck dick g.

I did make sure to get the die set made with pins so that I was sure the registration would be spot on. double-sided tape seems to be the consensus, but what is the 70# stock for? it doesn’t affect the impression depth at all?
I appreciate the help….

70# text not 70# cover, that is the way i was taught, maybe it saves some wear on the die and counter, don’t think on a 5x8 you would be able to emboss a very large area, i once did a 5x8” die on a 10x15 c&p and had trouble getting enough pressure. my first embossing job was not to good, the counter slipped, you would think the fiberglass would crush, but it flattened the female die, embossing takes some getting used to but it sure can dress up a job. good luck dick g.