DIY foil cards: a better method | How About Orange

June 27, 2013

DIY foil cards: a better method

DIY metallic foil cards
Yesterday I wrote about my ongoing experiments with laser transfer foil and an iron. Results were hit or miss. A lot of miss, actually. I'd been curious what would happen if, instead of fusing the foil to a laser print with my iron, I used my printer to do it (a Brother HL-5250DN). A representative from the company where I ordered the foil, PulsarPro FX, said a laser printer probably wouldn't work for a variety of reasons. They recommend a particular kind of laminator, but I've been too cheap to buy one. Last night I figured I'd try the printer anyway and crossed my fingers that the foil wouldn't get jammed up inside. The verdict: it worked WAY better than an iron.

I have a multi-colored pack of foils— click here and scroll down to "Foil Sampler Pack." That's the one. Or you could buy the "Individually Wrapped TRF" if you want to save some money and just get one color to test first, which is how I started. If you're outside the US, start here to find a vendor, then choose your product.

Here's the process.

First I requested Alex's permission to possibly destroy our printer. Got it, with just a "please be careful" admonishment.

How to make DIY metallic foil cards
Then I made a design in Illustrator and laser printed it on cardstock.

How to make DIY metallic foil cards
Next I cut a piece of foil and laid it over the design. I taped all the way along the edge that goes into my printer first and put a shorter piece on the other two corners to hold them down. Hard to see here, sorry.

Tips: Make sure the foil is cut large enough that your tape doesn't cover any part of your design or you'll probably have trouble getting the foil to stick in that area. Make sure you don't get wrinkles in the foil; smooth it down down when taping.

How to make DIY metallic foil cards
I put the taped-up cardstock back in my printer tray, positioned as if I were going to reproduce the print again on the same side. But this time, I printed a blank document. As the cardstock ran through the printer again, the foil became fused to any toner on the page.

How to make DIY metallic foil cards
Then I peeled off the loose foil; it only sticks where there's toner. This print isn't too shabby.

How to make DIY metallic foil cards
But this here print IS shabby. And not in a chic way. I found that some cardstock works and some doesn't. No idea why; so aggravating. Update: Coated cardstock yields good results! Uncoated cardstock does not.

How to make DIY metallic foil cards
My white cardstock worked really well. Here's a print with copper foil adhered in a confetti design, inspired by that trend in metallic wall treatments.

Metallic foil card tutorial at How About Orange
Here's more copper in a houndstooth pattern.

DIY metallic foil card by Jessica Jones
Here's an origami unicorn I designed for another project, foiled in red. Fabulous!

So no more ironing. I'm using the laser printer from now on.

46 comments:

Alexis Middleton said...

These turned out beautiful! Very inspiring!

unmitigated me said...

The way a laser printer works is to change the polarity of the paper, and the ink sticks where there is a charge. I would recommend only doing this if ALL of the design is covered with the foil. Otherwise, uncovered toner will come off the paper when it is fed through the second time, and you will start getting lines and goop on your paper. Covering the design completely should keep that from happening.

Jessica Jones said...

Great advice! Thanks so much!

Anonymous said...

This series of posts have been very helpful. I haven’t thought about heat transferred foil since ~1997 when my own experience was spotty and frustrating. I threw my hands up and declared never again. My lesson learned was simply that I apparently don’t value shiny quite enough! LOL. So I appreciate a more patient and/or dedicated designer sharing tips. I like this laser printer idea… Scary, but appealing…

Grandma G said...

Congrats on your success! They look great!

Mum

Lily Anne said...

That's great! Glad it worked for you. Your cards turned out beautifully!

sarah said...

Maybe it looks different in the picture, but I don't mind the blue cardstock... it kinda looks weathered and vintage-y (but like I said - maybe it's just the picture!)

Jessica Jones said...

I had that thought, too. This one is just a teeny bit too "scuffed" looking; I have another one that's a little bit more filled in but still distressed looking, and it's kinda cool.

Lillian D. said...

The hounds-tooth one came out so nice!

Ros said...

Excellent. Am wondering if I can use my laser printer for all my other ironing needs...

Anonymous said...

if at first you don't succeed, try, try again! WOW -love the results! thanks for sharing.

Jessica Jones said...

Ros, yes! Just feed your shirts, pants, and dresses through, and they will come out nice and flat and warm.

Jay Bendt said...

Did these new print outs have the funny black dots as well or much better luck???

these look fantastic! and a good way to do foil stamp. i might have to try it!

Jessica Jones said...

As long as I used my white cardstock, there were no black specks showing through. Success!

morgan said...

Foiled houndstooth... That looks incredible!

Sew Create It - Jane said...

Here's another thought?! Though I might be completely off base, but could you use a heat gun like they use for rubber stamping and embossing?

Jessica Jones said...

There needs to be a combination of heat and pressure. You can't push down with a heat gun, right? I've never used one but assume not.

Heather said...

These are darling. When I was an RA in college we had some kind of machine that did foiling similar to this. I can't recall what it was specifically and I've been looking on and off over the years for a way to do it. Thank you for the helpful posts!

Fototosse said...

Very beautiful!!!

Josh said...

Odd coincidence, I haven't had my foil or laminator out in months, and I took it out last night. Then I see you had the same idea.

I still like the ease of the laminator, and I had free office depot's rewards money, or I doubt I would have ever dropped the cash on it.

Always great to see some examples that you are working on. I have made some large prints so far with good results. I work at a college and have one of the foiled prints hanging in the President's office. It was a design I created for a t-shirt for them and then made a short run of "prints" for xmas presents.

The one I did last night is an anniversary present for my wife. There is a set of posters i love, but they only make poster sized versions. I wanted something desk sized. So I found a picture of one online, made the blacks strong in photoshop, printed and foiled. Looks great. I don't usually condone stealing an artist's work, and would have purchased one, but they don't make them in the size I need. I had to get creative.

Jessica Jones said...

Hey Josh, it's fun to hear what you're up to! I have no doubt the laminator is the best way to use this stuff. The college president's office, cool!

Kit said...

Great idea! Your cards turned out beautifully and as someone who has struggled with foil card making... That totally makes sense to "print a blank document". Why didn't I think of that? Thanks for the tips!

msmelinda said...

I've never worked with foil before but I just might want to try this! May I ask - what kind of white paper cardstock are you using?

Jessica Jones said...

Unfortunately I don't have the label from the pack I've been using. But I got an email from a reader saying they found that coated paper stock works way better than uncoated... so look for coated card stock!

Anonymous said...

Hello could you put a link to the illustrator template please I beg you its for my BFF and i want it to be special but im not talented like you are so please

Lina said...

Hi, I'm about to order the foil now and am praying that this works!! I read your post a while ago and only recently got a laser printer so I can finally try this!!! Can I ask you what program you use to design your prints?

I'll let you know how it turns out, crossing my fingers it works!!!

Jessica Jones said...

I use Adobe Illustrator. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU!!!

Beate von Senkenfels said...

Hello! I adore your projects, and I'm trying to do my own DIY foil christmas cards. But I wonder what kind of tape you use to fix the foil on the card stock. On the photos it looks like Scotch tape. I'm afraid that because of the heat of the laser printer the tape will melt and I won't be able to remove the Scotch tape from the card stock. Is there a special tape needed? Thank you for your answer and greetings from Germany!

Jessica Jones said...

Hi! I did use Scotch tape, but didn't care if it was removable because that part of my cardstock was cut off when I trimmed the cards down to size.

Jessica Phan said...

I have a question.. I am trying to DIY a small amount of wedding invitations (i'm comparing letterpress to gold foiling.. not sure what I want to do yet), but you said the paper needed to be coated? Where would I find a coated pink cardstock that wasn't too textured?

Jessica Jones said...

I'd contact a place like this:
http://www.thepapermillstore.com/card-stock/8-5-x-11-card-stock?color=582

and ask them if any of the pinks are coated (but still printable with a laser printer). They should be able to find out the finish on any of their products.

Anonymous said...

Does the foil have to be applied right away? Or can you do all the printing one day and do the foil a few days later?

Jessica Jones said...

I'm not sure; I always foiled right away. Experiment, I guess!

Lia C. said...

when you say "coated paper"...are you referring to gloss coated paper...or will dull/matt coated paper work just as well?

Jessica Jones said...

I haven't tried gloss--mine was matte / dull.

stiggy said...

hi! This post was SO useful! thanks! I've been having a go at putting white foil onto black paper, and I linked to this article on my blog. Hope this is ok! :)

ta again!

Lia C. said...

I can't seem to find matt/dull "coated" card stock.
where were you able to find it?

Jessica Jones said...

It wasn't on purpose--I just used some stuff I had at home, which didn't even have the package label any longer. It may have come from Target or a craft store? I had a batch of black card stock from somewhere that worked, too. None of them were labeled coated, though--just "card stock." You could contact a local printer and ask them for dull coated cover stock in a color you're looking for. They can probably show you samples and order from a paper manufacturer. Maybe try paperpresentation.com or an online retailer, too. Or try your luck looking around a craft store. Photo paper is coated, so if you didn't mind the glossiness, you could try that, too.

Tammy Le said...

Hi have a epson ink-jet printer. i wonder if it will works or you have to put it through a laser printer. i also have a brother printer too but it is inkjet printer also. I dont know if i have to buy a laser printer or is there different kind of foild paper that can work in inkyet printer?

Jessica Jones said...

You'll need a laser printer, I think, because of the heat and pressure applied to the paper as it passes through the fuser.

I don't know of any foil that works with an inkjet printer.

April said...

Do you have any idea if this would work on clear acetate?

Jessica Jones said...

I doubt it.... you can't laser print on acetate, can you?

April said...

Not sure. Then again i think i have an inkjet but i not sure. Nuts, thanks :)

Anonymous said...

I'm obsessed with this! Go YOU for experimenting and thanks so much for sharing it.

tangie said...

love this!! thanks so much for your clear explanation on how and why all this works... just started looking into how to make some gold foil prints and this is SO helpful!!

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