Thursday, 14 April 2016

DIY Foiling aka Foiled Again!

Regular readers of my blog will know that I'm a bit of a sparkle and shine addict, whenever possible I like to add sparkly touches to my cards, be that glitter, touches of Stickles, Glamour Dust, sparkly embossing powder, gilding wax or sparkle touches with pens like Wink of Stella or my new love Spectrum Sparkle Pens and Starlight paints.

I wanted to add more solid pieces of shine to projects though and I've been really impressed with the new hot foiling techniques I've seen some card makers do over the past few months, so much so, I wanted to recreate the effect myself to give the ultimate shine to projects. As I investigated what people were doing I realised that I didn't have a hot foiling machine or a laser printer, which meant the technique was not going to be a viable one.

Foil works best on toner inked images because it transfers better when the foil makes contact, some magical chemistry happens, which I haven't fathomed yet. Makes me wonder if someone will bring out a toner ink pad in the future?! Then a few months ago I watched Jennifer McGuire's YouTube video on adding foil to cards using embossing powder and a cheap laminator and I got my hopes up!

The image I posted at the beginning was my very first attempt, I ended up with a foiled piece, but it wasn't so good, it didn't transfer well in places and it also smeared in others. I threw my dummy out of the pram and decided that I would have to wait to be able to buy a laser printer and a foiling machine.

Several weeks later, I decided to have another go, but this time I did a little more research and I realised that I'd done several things wrong the first time: -

1) I turned on the laminator and ran the piece through as soon as the green light came on, yes the laminator is ready, but it isn't hot enough!

2) I used a cheaper embossing ink, and a coarser grade embossing powder, my examples below will show that you get totally different results depending what sticky medium you use.

3) I used cheap foil! I found a foil art kit in 'The Works' for £3, compared to foils I've since bought its a lot thinner and not as easily transferred. It's designed to work with cold glue on to paper.

In all my examples I used a Tesco A4 Laminator that I've had for a about 8 years, I used it a couple of times for what it was intended for, but it has sat in a cupboard ever since not being used. Lets be clear, if you're expecting professional results you won't get them, its not 100%, however it does, when done right give a very acceptable result. So with those points in mind I decided to try again, this time making some changes and this is what I discovered: -

Temperature Matters - I turned on the laminator and left it to warm up for 30 minutes, the hotter it is the better the results you get will be. Once you've stamped your image, applied and heat set your embossing powder you have to let the image cool down BEFORE you run it through the laminator, see the gold image below. You also have to allow it to cool down a little before you remove the foil.

Sticky Medium Affects Results - In the first example here I used Ranger Sticky Embossing Powder, I did let it cool, however as soon as the heat from the laminator hit the sticky embossing powder, it heated and pooled to give the puddled mess at the top of the image!

In the bottom part of the image above I used WOW Clear Gloss Super Fine embossing powder and allowed it to cool after heat setting, placed my foil on top, ran the card through the laminator and got a near perfect result. In my original image (the 'Wishes are Magic' Tim Holtz stamp) I used Clear Papermania Embossing Powder, which isn't that fine, it works for solid images, but if you have lots of detail on the stamp you're using, then the finer the embossing powder you use, the better the result!

It also helps if you use an anti-static tool to help prevent getting the embossing powder where you don't want it. I have to add that I've discovered that the type of ink used will also affect the results, in the very first example I used Dovecraft Clear Embossing ink, its not good for this technique. I then tried using a Clear Tsukineko Emboss pad, results were better, but no where as near as good as using Versamark, which is also made by Tsukineko strangely. As an aside I'm fast discovering Versamark is making all my embossing more successful, its like the Rolls Royce of embossing inks, until I find something better, but so far its the best I've tried, but I digress...

Type of Foil Matters - I've shown the results given from cheap foil in the opening image, I've discovered that the best results come from foil that has been designed to be used with heat and the best colour range so far and performance results I've experienced is from the iCraft 'Deco Foil' range made by Therm-O-Web, I particularly love the rainbow foil. Point to note is Deco Foil can be used on fabric and once heat set its permanent, it can also be used on wood and on porous surfaces.

I've also got good results from WOW Fab Foil, and they also come in a good range of colours. N.B. the gold hello image here shows what happens if you don't allow the heat set image to cool before it goes through the laminator! In the example at the top of the image I heat set it, added my piece of foil and put it through the laminator, without allowing the embossed image to first cool down and you can see it all smudged and smeared.

I used the same WOW embossing powder and Versamark ink combination, heat set it and allowed the image to cool for 60 seconds, gently wafting the image in the air like a fan to cool it. Then added my foil and put it through the laminator and the result can be seen at the bottom of the image. I was so happy with the result of this image that I literally shrieked with delight and my hubby came running up the stairs to see what had happened. Exit from the room one bemused man, not understanding the joy of a successful foiling attempt lol!

Toner IS the Bomb - I thought it would make for a good and fair test to show foiling on a piece of paper that had a sentiment which had been printed on a laser printer. As I said above I don't have a laser printer, but hubby has one at work, so I asked him to print out a sheet of sentiments for me.

This 'Fairy Wishes' sentiment is one of the toner examples. The toner acts like the 'glue' and helps to adhere the foil to the image, the results are almost flawless and a lot smoother and also faster, because you don't have to heat set an image first. However, you are limited to files that you can create or download and put into a word document or paint package on the PC, or the expensive pre-printed sheets that some of the companies are now selling. With the printed toner method, although it looks fabulous, you can't use any stamp image from your cling or rubber stamp collection, unless some genius comes out with a toner based ink pad we can use to stamp images for foiling! If that sort of ink pad existed, then ANY stamp could be used on almost any thickness of paper/cardstock. Currently you're limited to whatever thickness of card/paper your laminator can cope with and as I said a limited set of designs.

However this could well change soon, as there is now a Toner Pen, and also Toner Paint on the market, I reckon toner ink stamping pads are not that far away, fingers crossed! Although I'm not liking having to wait, so I'm playing with ideas for making my own toner paint/ink, so watch this space, I just need to get my hands on some toner powder first! I hope you find this post useful and it will help you with your foiling attempts. I'll post any updates if I find anything else that works, if you've found anything that works then please let me know in the comments. :)


  1. Hi Debs this was a fascinating read thank you for being so methodical. Take care. Hugs Jackie

  2. Thanks for this Debs, have read about these technique but not tried it and to be honest I'm not very unlike you.


Thanks for your comments on my cards and posts, they are very much appreciated, I'll get back to you as soon as I can if a reply is required. Hugs - Debs x