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10 Ways of Adding Foil to a Project

10 Ways of Adding Foil to a Project main article image
Posted on April 6, 2021 by Natalie Ballard

When working with digital files, patterned papers and even stamps, there are a number of ways of adding foil to our crafting projects. Foil adds a touch of luxury to any special project, but is particularly useful for weddings, events and memory keeping projects.

Method 1: Using a laser printer

By combining a black pattern and foil we can create stunning background elements, intricate sentiments and detailed designs. The trick with this technique is to put down as much laser toner as possible to get a high quality finish; bizarrely mono printers work better than color ones for this technique.

Laser foiled background

In this background, I used a color laser printer with a black only design. Turn off any eco print or draft features, and set the color to 100% for cyan, magenta, yellow and black. If your print has a photo resolution, we recommend using that too.

Place your toner reactive foil over the top color side up and sandwich between copier paper or baking parchment paper. Pre-heat your laminator as you want it to one good and hot before feeding your sandwich through.

This process gives a smooth finish unlike any other method and you can always laser print over a patterned paper if you want to foil that too.

You can still use this foiled background (once cooled) in your electronic cutter. I drew onto it with a Scribblicious gel pen from The Works to keep the metallic sheen flowing through. I did this with a stitched style SVG file – drawing the stitches and then cutting the outline. Be sure to allow the ink time to dry if you are using a slower drying pen.

Method 2: Using the Foil Quill for electronic cutters

The Foil Quill uses the draw command with most cutters meaning its really easy to use with SVG files and digital designs like our custom sentiment here. This sentiment has been set in a font of my own design. We can also use it to outline shapes as seen in the border, or even fill whole areas when using the broader tip.

Foil Quill with single line font

The Foil Quill, however, also works just as well with Direct Cut on the ScanNCut. This means we can use our machine’s in-built scanner to trace elements in printed and patterned papers. The DX range’s improved scanner does help with this, but you should also be able to replicate this with the CM if you are careful with ambient light levels. Here, I used the scanner to pick up the borders in the design and highlighted then using foil and offsetting the traced shapes to fill them in.

Foiling using Direct Cut

This process indents the design into your card which means the filling process does have a subtle ridged texture like laid cardstock. The Foil Quill can foil directly onto vinyl, faux leather and more as well as regular cardstock.

Filling with the Foil Quill

Method 3: Using Foiled papers

Another way to add a touch of luxury is to use foiled papers as part of your design. This paper is two thin sheets of aluminum sandwiching a piece of paper. It has enough body to hold 3D shaping and thin enough to use as an embellishment to a printed design. You can even cut this on your cutter using a manual blade and minimal pressure.

Using foiled paper

This means you can foil in either a 2D or 3D format smoothly with either cutting in an electronic cutter or by using dies, punches and other manual crafting tools.

Method 4: The Glue Method

Another method for applying foil to our designs is using a two-way glue pen. These go sticky when dry and clear. Once sticky, your foil (it doesn’t matter which type of foil for this technique) can be placed color side up over the top and pressed down. For best effect, I find running the piece through your die-cutting machine with the tan/embossing mat sandwich gives a perfect finish.

This could be using a freestyle design (maybe tracing over or around an image/pattern; a digital design with your glue pen in your cutter (don’t forget to use foil settings if you have them to prevent glue entering your machine); or maybe applied through a stencil.

Foiling with a glue pen

The glue method does give a raised finish to the foiled section of the design. This should be considered as part of your design process as it does work better with designs than text as an example.

Method 5: Gel Medium

Like Method 1, this uses a laminator to “melt” the medium so it bonds with the foil. Apply your gel medium through a stencil as thickly as you like (colored mediums work great too). Remove and soak your stencil and allow your gel medium to completely dry (ideally overnight). Once dry, lay the foil over the top and sandwich as per method 1. Pre-heat your laminator so its nice and hot, you can also put the sandwich through twice to get a better transfer.

Foiling onto gel medium

This process is great for textured backgrounds in card designs, but also great for mixed media pieces where you want to add sparkle. The gel medium transfer method gives one of the best finishes and I love to work with these.

Cut your finished pieces with scissors, trimmers or thinner textures with dies. I wouldn’t recommend cutting these pieces with an electronic cutter; if you need to do this, cut first and then apply the gel and foil.

Method 6: Foiling stamped designs

You can foil stamped images by using special “sticky” embossing powder. This goes tacky once heat set so it will grab the foil from any foiling sheet. This doesn’t need any special tools beyond a heat tool that most crafters would have for regular embossing powder.

This gives a raised finish similar to the of using a glue pen, but it can cope better with text and some shading in image designs.

Method 7: Foiling with dies

There are a number of die based foiling systems available on the crafting market. These use solid area dies that conduct heat from a heated platform and heat activated foil like that of the Foil Quill  to apply a foiled design to card. These are then run through a die cutter to apply pressure to the die and foil to adhere it to the card.

This process works great for intricate designs and bold designs alike, there’s also a huge array of foil colors and effects for these systems.

This process leaves a subtle impression into the card due to the use of pressure.

Method 8: Double-sided adhesive

You can also use double-sided adhesive (whether tape, roll or sheets) to apply foil with few tools. This time no need for a laminator or heated equipment; all you need is adhesive, foil and something to stick it to.

You can die-cut your adhesive, cut it with a cutter or just cut it with scissors. Apply it carefully to your card to avoid wrinkles and peel off the backing. With the backing now removed, lay over the foil color side up; burnish the foil down gently but firmly with a bone folder. Lift away the sheet to reveal the foil. Any missed areas can have the foil applied again.

Foiling onto adhesive covered acetate

For a different look, you could apply your first color foil through a stencil burnishing well with an embossing tool around the edges. Remove the sheet and the stencil, you can then apply a contrasting second color. This works particularly well with bolder designs with lots of solid adhesive areas.

The adhesive only gives a very slightly raised finish.

Method 9: Leafing

All of the methods that don’t use heat above can also be combined with leafing instead of foil for a different metallic finish. Foiling tends to be high shine and polished, leafing on the other hand gives a softer finish which is great for vintage and shabby chic projects.

To apply leafing instead of foil, you can apply sheets of leaf directly to the stick surface. Flakes can also be used for an even softer finish. Leafing can be both single and multi-colored giving the ability to create your own coloring when using flakes or different color sheets. You can then use a stiff brush to apply the foil to the sticky while removing the excess. The excess leaf can be saved for other projects.

The amount the design is raised varies by the adhesive type used.

Method 10: The Foil Quill Freestyle and Heatwave pens

You can also apply foil using metal and heat-resistant stencils (and of curse freehand) using heat pens such as the Heatwave and Foil Quill pens by We R Memory Keepers. Place the foil color side up on your surface you wish to foil (always patch test new surfaces). With your pen up to temperature, place the stencil over the top of the foil and trace around the design. You can then fill in or doodle a pattern as you wish.

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