Saturday, 12 February 2011

Experiments with Foil

A few weeks ago I briefly introduced you to my shiny new custom boxes as part of my yearly review, but now I shall go into a little more detail, in order to review some hot foiling pens.

So, basically, the fancy box making company couldn’t do exactly what I wanted. This is because I am often a pain in the bum and want something different and exciting and terribly complicated. I wanted the heart design that I use for my website background and business cards printed onto the top of the charcoal grey boxes, but I also wanted a metallic gold keyhole printed onto the front of the boxes where they close. Sadly, the only way they could do this was to entirely custom make the boxes, rather than just printing on off the shelf ones. And what would be the problem with this, you may wonder..? Well, that would be the minimum order of 3,000 boxes. Eek! As I don’t think I will sell enough jewellery to need 3,000 boxes in my entire life, this wasn’t really an option.

So, I had my customary “how hard can it be...?” thoughts about printing my own little keyhole on the front, after the fancy box designers had done their thing with the top of the boxes. Here are my naked boxes, bereft of their little keyholes. Still pretty, but a little bit sad, no?

Anyway, if you are at all familiar with my crafty projects, you will have an idea of how well these things that my little brain decides will be super-easy usually go.

I did a bit of research on hot foiling. Apparently people who make cards use it a lot. The catch is, however, that they print the hot foil onto a design on the cards that has been printed on a laser printer. Now, (a) obvs I can’t put a box in a printer, and (b), laser toner won’t show up on the black boxes anyway. Bum. A little more research showed me the apparent wonders of foiling pens. And here is how they worked out.

1. Tonertex Write & Rub Pen

This is a pen filled with a special type of glue. You write/draw on the thing you want to foil with it. The glue comes out a kind of milky white colour, then you wait for it to dry clear. Like so:

Then, you just rub the special foil onto the dried glue with your finger.

It does make it shiny, but as you can see it's not really the right method for getting the neat finish I'm after. The glue is very runny and the nib isn't particularly fine, so getting sharp edges and corners are impossible.

Right, next.
2. Battery Operated Hot Foil Pen

This seemed good in theory. It has a rounded plastic nib, which contains a heated element, and you write directly onto the shiny side of the foil with it.

I started off by making a template, so my edges would be neat. Like this:

Then, placed the foil on the box, placed the template over it and heated up the pen.

I have to say, the results weren't so great. Firstly, you have to hold down the little button on the side of the pen whilst you're working, which is kind of awkward. Also, it turns out all colours of foil are not created equal. The gold, for example, is rubbish! It comes out all patchy, no matter how hard you rub over it with the pen. See?

The silver turned out pretty nice:

Having abandoned the gold, the silver is what I ended up using on the boxes I had to send out to customers, as with the template it looked pretty neat.

Just out of curiosity really, I tried all the different colours of foil and gold was definitely the worst.

Anyway, even though the silver turned out pretty nice, I still really wanted the keyhole to be gold.

Having given up on this foiling nonsense as too unpredictable, I purchased a sheet of shiny gold vinyl sheet, cut out my little keyhole with a scalpel, and stuck it to the front of the box, using the battery hot foil pen (switched off) to rub over it, as I liked the effect it gave with the foil of kind of embossing it into the stripes on the box. This worked perfectly and gave me the perfect little shiny keyhole I was after. Hurrah!


Purdey Singleton said...

Wow that's a lot of trail and error! I love the finished look it definitely makes the boxes that little bit more special (not sure if that is correct English but my brain is foggy from cold!) xx

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Lauren Grace said...

Thanks lovely! I do like to play around with crafty things :)