Have you taken a shine to someone? Tell them how you feel with a handmade Valentine’s Day card decorated with colorful foil.
Applying foil elevates even the simplest heart shape to something special, but getting it to stick is not so simple, depending on the skills and supplies involved. While I found instructions for more than half a dozen ways to embellish cards with foil, I narrowed them down to three methods involving double-sided adhesive, stencils and a laminating machine. Luckily, I found crafting instructor Jennifer McGuire, who tested all of them and shared her results in a post and accompanying video on her blog. Though she actually tested five methods, I skipped the techniques involving rubber stamps and tape.
All three methods that I tried start with thin sheets of foil – I purchased a variety pack made by ThermoWeb – but from there they diverged in complexity. Rather than create my own designs, I downloaded free printable Valentines from Design Corral.
Here’s what I found, with each method rated from 1 to 10, with 10 indicating the least expensive, easiest and best results:
This technique involves placing a stencil on the card and spraying it with a clear adhesive glue. Once the stencil is removed, the foil sheet is applied color-side up, and rubbed with a burnishing tool or butter knife. When the sheet is peeled away, the foil sticks to the design.
The first drawback to this method is the limited availability of stencil designs. I purchased a pack of holiday-themed Martha Stewart stencils but they turned out to be too small for this purpose. I was able to cut a stencil out of a plastic transparency sheet using my digital cutting machine, but then arrived at my second drawback: The foil didn’t stick very well. Instead of a solid heart shape, it was more of a splattered, worn look. If you’re going for a rustic feel, that might be perfect, but overall, the results were underwhelming.
The second method appeared less messy and more straightforward: Cut a shape out of double-sided adhesive, stick it to the card, cover it with foil and then rub to adhere the foil to the shape. I had high hopes for this technique, because I figured I could use my digital cutting machine to cut more intricate designs than I could for the stencil method. But I found it difficult to cleanly cut the shapes, and only the basic heart proved easy to execute. Granted, the tutorial used a die-cutting machine instead, which would likely work better.
Once the shape was cut out, however, the foil did stick much better than it did to the spray adhesive. I don’t have a die-cutting machine, but I could see using this technique with some of the larger paper punches I have to make polka-dot designs.
The third technique was by far the easiest and most impressive, but also involved the biggest potential investment. For this method, you need access to both a laser printer or copier and a laminating machine. Once a design is printed on the cardstock, you simply cover the card with foil, fold a blank piece of copy paper around it and send it through the laminator. The foil will stick to whatever is printed on the card.
I bought a laminator for less than $30, and given the results, I think it was well worth it. Unlike with the other methods, you can achieve intricate designs, including text, with ease – anything you can print can be covered in foil. While I stuck with simple, one-color designs, it would be fun to experiment with placing foil on only part of the design or using multiple colors.