Foils galore!

On my Simple Washi Candles Card, I used nail foils for the candle flames.  In the post, I mentioned how nail foils were cheaper than if you were to buy crafting transfer foils by Deco Foil or Minc.  Not only is it cheaper, you get a lot of different foil designs!

First of all, I should mentioned that I have never used any name brand foils before, but I have watched a few videos of other well-known crafters using Deco Foil on their projects.  Therefore, I have a good idea of what Deco Foil can do.  Secondly, I bought the nail foils from China via Ali Express, therefore I cannot give a direct link to purchase the foils since product pages change often.  If you are convinced on giving nail foils a try on your projects and want to order some, I suggest searching for ‘nail foils’ from Ali Express or similar store websites.

All 48 foil swatches!
All 48 foil swatches!

Without further ado, let’s get into the foils!

Through Ali Express, I ordered a set of nail foils for under €3 and the set contained 48 different 35x4cm sheets of foil.   There were other sets, but I chose this particular set for the price (since  I was buying it for testing) and because it contained more solid coloured foils, as opposed to patterns.  The set also contained some opaque sheets which I was interested in testing out as well.

Here is the foil cost comparison:

  • A tube of Deco Foil costs €5 for 5 sheets of 6″x12″ inches (~15×30.5cm).  Calculating the area, you are paying €5 for 2,322.5 cm² for only one foil colour.
  • Transfer Foils by Ranger costs €6 for 10 sheets of 4 11/16″x 3 9/16″ (american measurements are ridiculous, ~12x9cm).  This calculates to €6 for 1,074cm²
  • A set of 48 different foils colours/designs, each 35x4cm in size for under €3.  That is less than €3 for 6,720 cm².

So not only do you pay less, you get more for what you pay, and lots of different colours!  However, one major drawback is that each sheet is a long 4cm wide sheet, so if you want to foil large areas, you’ll have to cut the sheets and use two or more, which may cause a line on your image depending on the foil’s pattern.

Applying the foils

To apply the foils (and to make the swatch chart) I use the simplest method, which is double-sided sticky tape.  I found that the foil also works with tape runners and glue (when given some time to dry for tackiness).  The drawback of using double sided adhesive is that the foil is scratchable.  If you want your foiled bits to not be scratchable, you need to use the embossing powder and laminator method.

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The result of using the embossing method.

With the embossing powder and laminator method, it requires heat embossing a stamped image, then placing the foil on top of the embossed image and running it through a well-heated laminator.  The emboss melts a little and acts as a glue, allowing for the foil to stick to where it was embossed.  This method also worked with the nail foils, however, I noticed other areas where I did not emboss also had some foil stuck to it (see picture).  I think this is because I did not use an embossing buddy or anti-static powder tool and so there were some micro bits of embossing powder on it.  I don’t have an anti-static powder tool nor an embossing buddy, but I tested the foiling again with some baby powder (ingredient to make your DIY embossing buddy) rubbed onto the card and I noticed less random bits of foiling on areas with baby powder.

There is also another method of applying foil and that is the ink toner method (like with laser printers).  Something in the toner ink reacts with foil when it goes through a hot laminator and foil sticks to it.  However, I do not own a laser printer, but I read that I can also try using a photocopy machine (since it also uses toner ink), so I will test that out soon and write my results with the nail foils.  [Update: I tested it and you can find the test result here.  But the short answer is yes, it worked with a photocopied image!]

So far, it seems that the nail foils are working just like the other craft foils like Deco Foil.

Trial and error foiling

Shiny tape?!
Shiny tape?!

Anyway, I started making my foil swatches with the clear holographic sheets and if you look closely, that’s tape covered in clear holographic foil!  I think the clear holographic foils can best be used on coloured paper to give your project a shine as it catches the light.

As I was making the swatches, I sometimes forget to give it a rub to make sure all of the foil was stuck onto the adhesive tape.  So when I pulled the foil sheet away, the foil looked splotchy or had “holes” where there was no foil but exposed adhesive.  This tended to happen often with the metallic foils, but a tip is to remember to give it a quick rub before you peel the foil away from the adhesive.

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Seamless foiling

But if you forget like me and have unfoiled bits on your adhesive, just place another part of the foil on top again, give it a good rub and peel off!  You can see an example with the Champagne pink sparkles foil.  If you look on the foil sheet, you can see the right side of the adhesive did not catch the foil and pull it off.  So I touched the exposed adhesive with another part of the foil (the little rectangle on the right) and I got a seamless coverage on the tape.

The verdict

Overall, I think nail foils make for a great alternative to craft foils.  They seem to work just like regular craft transfer foils.  However, I wish nail foils came in larger sheets.  Also, the folds in my nail foils may pose a problem as well,  but some nail foils are sold rolled up in a small cylinder container.  Finally, I still need to test the ink toner method with apply foil, but I think it will work.

Pros Cons
  1. Very inexpensive
  2. More designs and patterns available
  3. Seems to work just like other craft foils
  1. Small sheet size
  2. Some sheets are sold folded
  3. Possibly thinner

For more (general) tips and tricks on foiling, I suggest looking at Jennifer McGuire’s blog post that also explains how the best method for foiling is with embossing powders due to it making the foils scratch resistant.  Anyway, I hope inspired you to give nail foils a try and to create some happiness today!

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