Service: Hot Foil Stamping

Posted by ashley mcneill on

After lots of requests for foil, we have finally added it to our services!

In-House Colors
Gold, silver, champagne, copper, rose gold, matte white, and holographic foil (not shown). Other colors are available upon request; minimum orders will apply.
You can order your swatches here.

Colors top to bottom: matte white, silver, pearl white (translucent),
copper, gold, champagne, rose gold, oil slick. Not pictured: silver holo.

What We've Learned So Far

Using foil as an accent, pairing it with letterpress or flat-printed pieces, is the best way we can foil for you. While we've done full-foil designs before, it's super frustrating, sometimes dissatisfying, and generates a LOT of paper waste. Why?, you might be wondering. Aren't all foil machines the same? Nope. Being a tabletop press, instead of a converted Kluge or Hidelberg press, we are not only limited in size (up to 5x8) but also by pressure.

Hot foil stamping needs three things: heat, pressure, and time. All three have to be in perfect combination and, as a machine hand-fed and operated by a human, just the slightest change in timing (1 second to 1.2 seconds for example) can change the result. (Yes, it's that picky!) Plus, some designs require a lot of pressure, and more than our machine can provide.

Sometimes everything plays well and it's amazing. We did a fully designed A7 invitation with art deco borders and details, on a pearlized stock, and somehow it came out perfect. Then we get another full A7 art deco design and it's impossible to get the balance right so we had to outsource it at the last minute.

With some designs we actually print them in two parts. A venue illustration on one run, and the text on another. It helps with the balancing act but still a challenge, and twice the work!

So much shine can be overload so we think it's best used as an accent. A great letterpress impression with bits of shine really does stand out. But we understand a lot of your clients love the full shine look, so please do reach out. If it's something we believe we can take on, and do well, we'll do it!

What About Foil on Handmade Papers?

Since every card is different when it comes to handmade, you're going to get some information loss that varies card to card. It's the nature of the beast and something you and your clients need to expect. Having said that, designs with lots of white space on Porridge, Fringe, and Rag work well. With Porridge, as it's my favorite for letterpress, the Cotton color is my least favorite to foil on - it's thickness is so varied and is more noticeable on the foil. We've had shockingly good luck with matte white on Novelette, though. Shockingly good!

For envelopes, you certainly can't afford loss of a number there so handmade is not my preferred paper. Idyll has knots in the papers with really interferes with the foil, much worse than with letterpress. I've done return address on flaps before and was thankful the client ordered as many extras as she did!

Some people swear by Indian Cotton Paper and Idyll for foil. Some of my least favorite for letterpress because I can't achieve the impression I want, but for foil... not a fan of Idyll (the knots and indentations) and am still developing an opinion on ICP.


What Doesn't Work

  • Disposable face masks (fine lines won't adhere but we've had some luck with small, bold designs)
  • Fabrics (special foil will be needed)
  • Vellum (the foil flakes off and/or warps vellum); sometime it works well, sometimes it doesn't. Let's talk before you pitch it to your client!

File Prep

  • Artwork vectorized
  • Fonts outlined
  • 100%K
  • Stroke thickness .35pt+
  • .PDF


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