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 under $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.