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. The print above 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.

90 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!!

thunderpeep said...

Very cool! I had no idea it could be so easy, well at least easy enough to learn, I'm sure there will be loads of not so chic ones while I get the technique down ;) Thanks

taylor said...

How would I do this on black paper? Does it matter if you can't seen the print before foiling it?

Jessica Jones said...

Nope, doesn't matter that you can't see the print very well. I tried it here. Black paper is my favorite because it shows off the foil the best.

http://www.howaboutorange.blogspot.com/2012/09/diy-cards-with-copper-foil.html

Anonymous said...

Hi Jessica, I just purchased some papilio heat transfer foil print sheets, but they don't seem to stick at all when running them through the laser printer. Have you ever used this brand before?

Anonymous said...

Have you ever used papilio transfer paper before?

Jessica Jones said...

I haven't tried that kind.

Amber Smith said...

On the Pulsar Pro FX shop page, did you ever use the Complete Kit? I think it's $80 USD.

Or did you only have to purchase the Toner Reactor Foils (TRF)?

I'm considering foiling my own wedding invitations and wanted to know exactly what you had available to you. My problem is that I'm not sure if it would be necessary for me to purchase the kit or just a few items.

I have access to a laminator that work will lend me and I plan on purchasing a laser printer. Side note - Pulsar ProFX said the Brother brand doesn't do right for foiling due to a change in the toner recipe, so I'm not sure I should get another Brother. Do you still stand by your Brother when it comes to this?

Jessica Jones said...

Hi Amber, I purchased just the foils (about $10 if I remember correctly.) I've only used my Brother printer for these. I just checked and the toner cartridge I'm using is made by Brother, too. But it's been a long time since I made anything with foil and I can't remember when I last changed the cartridge. I guess it's possible the cartridge before this one was made by a third party--can't remember--and maybe I used that? Or perhaps this cartridge is an older one manufactured before Brother changed their formula, if the Pulsar Pro folks are correct.

Amber Smith said...

Thanks, Jessica! Also, I really appreciate you posting this. I'm a pretty good googler but there just isn't enough info on how to foil. So thankful for you! You did an amazing job, too!

Thanks again!

Tristan Bowersox said...

Hi, Jessica! Thank you so much for doing all of this experimentation. I never would have had the guts to try running it through the printer again.

I am having a couple problems with this process, though. When I try to tape down the foil, there is static charge in the tape that makes the foil jump up and get stuck in a bad position, and in general it is difficult to get the foil smooth enough to go through without wrinkling. My printer tends to cause cardstock to curl after printing, which I suspect plays a part in that.

Have you run into the static problem? How do you keep everything flat and smooth?

April: Pulsar/DecalPro also makes a toner transfer system that I think should let you foil other things (but I haven't tried it). Also, laser transparency sheets are a thing.

Amber: I'm using Brother too, and it seems to be working fine. The only bare spots seem to be due to wrinkles in the foil sheet.

Savanna @ My Blue Avenue said...

Great post and inspiration for all of us! One quick tip - if some of the gold foil won't stick perfectly to the toner, try setting the temp a little lower and then leave the gold foil exposed. This will create a strong bond and will not result in many, if any, black spots. Try one paper one cover sheet on the bottom, leave top exposed and it will stick a lot better. You'll have to mess with the temp a little to find the sweet spot - depends on paper thickness and foil used. I have a website where I sell gold foil prints - check it out at www.myblueavenue.com - I'll have more new prints up soon. If anyone can't get the foiling to work and wants to buy one, check out my site. I hope you don't mind the link - feel free to remove it if needed. :)

suzanne finocchiaro said...

Savanna @ My Blue Avenue I had a question for you about your post on this. You talk about changing the heat settings? On what type of tool are you changing settings? BTW your prints are beautiful!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for stating clearly how the process works. I was having issues with the foil not wanting to stick (spotty at best) but I put a new toner cartridge in and WOW!! it worked. Thanks again for your post.

Savanna said...

Hi Suzanne,

Thank you so much for the kind words about my prints! :)

I am using a laminator. Mine has a temp setting which I can adjust - 275-310F is usually a good temp range.

Mele said...

@savanna I love your prints as well, what type of paper and gold foil do you use? What do you mean by exposing the foil? Mine have been very splotchy and doesn't pick up all the black ink. Thank you both for the great info and tips.

Anonymous said...

Do you think you can do this on colored card stock paper (not just white)?

Jessica Jones said...

Yes! See here.
http://www.howaboutorange.blogspot.com/2012/09/diy-cards-with-copper-foil.html

1halvertto said...

hello, im from ecuador so not many people here knows the different kinds of foils used for hot stamping, fuse toner, etc, im having teouble finding the right foil for toner fusing, all foils look similar,the foilim using sticks to the toner but leaves traces on the paper aswell, not sure why, i was using another kind of foil before and it was sticikng to te toner buit also leaving traces on the paper aswell but much worse, the posterior part of the foil looks different, the one i use now is more silverlike and the one before is a little bit whiter and i saw on the store different kinds, same gold foil but the posterior look different, help me please

Jessica Lacy said...

Dear Author

Thanks for sharing "Diy foil cards"

Regards
Jessica Lacy

Karmen Chan said...

Thanks for sharing this! I'm trying this out & wanted to ask, what kind of tape did you use to tape the foil to your card? Thank you!

Jessica Jones said...

Clear Scotch tape.

Lissa said...

Foil cards are really awesome cards in their design and shine. Thanks for this post. Keep Posting.

Lisa Warren said...

This happened to me but I was using normal white printer paper... can you suggest what I should do differently?

Jessica Jones said...

It's probably your paper. Try using coated paper--something with a slightly shiny finish or smooth sheen; reports are that it works better.

Tarana Begum said...

This is fantastic! :) I have a question can this method be done using aluminium foil? Or does it have to be a specifc type of foil? Thanks for the great and inspiring idea! :)

Jessica Jones said...

Tarana, aluminum foil won't work-- it does have to be a special kind.

Eva Phan said...

Hi Jessica! Thanks for the great post, I would have never thought to do this! Is there anything about your Brother laser printer that distinguishes it from other laser printers? I have a Canon and I want to try this, but I'm still kind of concerned about messing up the printer!

Jessica Jones said...

Eva, I don't know much about printers, I'm afraid. This was all experimentation for me.

Unknown said...

I believe any laser printer should be fine. The science behind it is the laser ink is a polymer is heated to adhere to the paper. When you run the printed document back through with the foil attached you are reheating the ink so it will stick to the foil.

As long as you securely attach the foil and make sure it is attached with the foil side down you should be fine.

Mali said...

Hi Jessica.
I have been looking at your experiments, thanks for showing them. The blue card? I found that if you put it through a second time but with a different colour, tiny bits will adhere giving the image a beautiful effect. Having found this out, I now use it more than the single colour.
Regards.
Marilla.

Claire Ritchey said...

Has anyone figured out a specific (not just "coated") type of cardstock that works with this? Like a specific name and brand please. I have tried three kinds with no success. If you have a label from your paper that you have used- please post and help me out!

Anonymous said...

Hello - how heavy was the paper used in this example? I'm researching laser printers and it appears difficult to find one that will print on paper heaven than 160gsm.

Jessica Jones said...

Honestly I'm not sure, since I used a pack of cardstock from an office supply store and threw away the wrapper. So sorry! I would guess no heavier than 80lb. cover weight.

Kristin Grisel said...

Thanks so much! I tried this and had my cardstock printed at staples...is there a reason why the foil is slightly blotchy?

Erin Bailey said...

Hi, I was wondering, does the ink need to be "fresh" or can it be printed a few days earlier?

Morgan said...

Erin - I will try tonight with an image I printed and few days ago and let you know. My feeling is that it should be fine because laser ink is a polymer that is heated to get it to apply to paper. So like a candle or plastic if you heat it up it should just melt and the re-running it through the printer or laminator is heating it up so the foil sticks to the print. In fact, the Minc system papers are pre-printed and who knows how long ago that was?

Morgan said...

It worked great!

Felicia Tan said...

Anyone can help me? When I run the paper through the laminator, there are many tiny dots of gold foil that sticks on my paper on the non printed area. Is it my laminator heat setting is wrong or the gold foil is of bad quality.

Cassy said...

Hi there! Just wondering, have you tried to run the foiled print back through the printer to add more colours? Did it work? Don't want to ruin my work's printer trying and just seeing what people have to say about it!!
thanks :)

Doris said...

Glad to see this post is still getting comments! I bought a new Brother laser printer and gave this a try using a laminator. My results were okay, a bit patchy though. I'm going to try to find some different card stock and try again but I was wondering what other peoples results were like?

I tried using my printer in place of the laminator but it seems if I print a blank page, no heat is applied at all. I'm wondering if this is s feature of newer printers?

Also, my laminator is a cheap Swingline and I'm wondering if a more expensive one with different heat settings might work better? What kind of laminators have you been using?

Anyone have comments?

Anonymous said...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o3_MMmzGs-Y

Here is a T-shirt designer's method. I'm trying to figure out a way to make foil stamping more automated and for large runs without using a pro printer. This may be an in-between, and bypasses the lamination process.

However, I bet that heat press costs a pretty penny!

Alternately, I will invest in a better laminator as mine cheap-o didn't work in spite of following all the rules. Not enough pressure and/or heat is my guess.

Here's a laminator I MAY get, unless the heat press can streamline the process somewhat:

http://www.mybinding.com/pro-lam-plus-330-akiles-pouch-laminator.html

Still researching heat press costs.

CoilyUplifted said...

Will this possibly work on shimmer cardstock paper?

Vivienne L said...

So I've been running a business making invitations for clients and brides using this process printing on 300gsm card stock. I get the laser printing done at a local digital printing store (through their laser black and white copier which is a Canon ImageRunner) and then go home and add the foil (not taped) over the whole design area and run it through my laminator. This works perfectly and has close to no error in the foil reacting to the toner / sticking, only error when I am working too quickly and the foil creases or folds as it runs through. Now, my local printing store has now closed down and I have been searching for a new one that works as well but all of the printing houses are now using Fuji Xerox's or Konica Minolta's and apparently I have learnt that now laser printer toners in newer machines are more "Eco-friendly" resulting in some or few ingredients missing so the foil does not stick as well. Helpppp?
I love making invitations and want to get that perfect result again. I am using a Fuji Xerox and printing in CMYK which I find is getting a good result, but not as good as the Canon I used before. Any ideas on how I can better this?
In summary, after lots of trial an error I've found it comes down to the toner not being as good as the old stuff resulting in the foil not adhering as well. Can anyone else relate?

Kaylie Joy Black said...

I have been trying this to make some replica Christmas Crackers and it seems to be going pretty well. Your blog post has definitely helped ALOT. My problem is that I am using metalic paper, but the sort of paper that is glossy rather than matte. Some times it works perfectly, other times, the foil is actually sticking to the un printed bits. i am using a laminator, so I think maybe the heat setting is too high? I'm going to try with an iron, and do it multipule times I think?

ShareThis