Friday, 23 January 2015

Adding the Midas touch: Ideas and inspiration for using gilding flakes and foil.

Hello hello.

The other day, in the final post of my 'Fortune & Geese Favour the Bold' series [a free, 7-part, altered book and collage adventure] I mentioned that I'd be rounding off the whole series with something optional ...

... something that I personally used on my collage pages but which isn't especially necessary to add to yours. Unless of course you're totally into metallics, spangle, bling, glimmer and shine; in which case it's completely essential!!!

And that something is gilding / foiling.

And it's something I've seen cropping up in commercially produced crafting products more and more recently ... I might even stick my crafty neck out [you can gild it while it's sticking out there if you like!] and say gilding is going to be a continuing trend in 2015 ... so if you want to get in with gold crowd ... keep reading!  

Already this year Jennifer Grace has shared her experiences of the Heidi Swapp 'Minc' heat-foiling machine - watch her 'unboxing and first use' video here. And just today I've noticed the Becky Higgins Project Life 'Desktop Edition' features gold foiling too.
 But ... let me share with you how I've been using it in a slightly more messy, scrappy, patchy, distressed way:
There's certainly something to be said for and aggrandising your own work with a spot of gold occasionally. And whether or not it's gen-u-ine 22ct gold or not is neither here nor there! It's the thought - and the shine - that counts!

The idea to use gilding in my Fortune & Geese Favour the Bold project came from the spine of the book I altered:
So I thought I'd simply continue the theme inside the book too.

But before we go all-out Midas I just want to make a few things clear:
  1. None of the links in this post are sponsored by a company or retailer. The supplies I mention were sent to me for use in magazine projects while ago, and I've simply been using the leftovers in my own work.
  2. Whenever I work with / think about / catch sight of gilding flakes etc ... I can't help re-stating my awful Shakespearean wordplay about 'Rosencrantz and Gildingflakes' - and in this case 'Gildingfoil'. So ... there. I've said it again!! I can't help myself .. but at least we've got it out of the way early. [It's OK, no one but my sister ever laughs at that and even then she's probably just doing her sibling duty.]
OK then, let's start with Gildenstern gilding flakes ...

Gilding flakes:
Gilding flakes come in pots, in a variety of shades, not just gold, and can be used in combination with any of your existing rubber stamps:
  • Rather than stamping the design with ink you dab your stamp with the special glue that's sold alongside the flakes [available from brands such as Indigo Blu and Cosmic Shimmer] and then stamp the image as normal. [You must wash your stamp straight away though!];
  • You then pick up a few of the flakes and pat them over the glue-stamped area;
  • Next you use your finger tips and the recommended scrubbing sponge to remove the excess and suddenly your stamped design will be revealed in its golden glory!
I found that this method tended to work best when I used stamps with a clear, bold, design; such as the heart shape [above] and the ampersand [below]:

 That said, it is possible to use them with smaller, more detailed designs such as these arrows:
 ... or these rings:

And really, the end result does depend on:
  • How sturdy the stamp is: I found that some of my more 'jelly' soft clear acrylic ones tended to 'squish' a little when pressed down ... AND ...
  • How much glue you used: too much will distorting the design while too little will mean the result is patchy. Appropriately enough the answer lies with Goldilocks: your glue needs to be 'just right'! 
Here's an example of the patchy effect .. although I actually don't mind its imperfections - it seems to sit happily with the laid back style of the pages: 
But, if you're not a stamper ... don't let that put you off using gilding flakes:
You can use the glue and the flakes without stamps; all it takes is a combination of flakes + glue ... and the glue can be applied to any surface in any way you fancy!
Take, for example, this card [made for my original Papercraft Inspirations magazine gilding 'Masterclass' last year] in which I used several different application techniques: 
The 'LOVE' sentiment was a stamp, using the method I described above, but here are a few alternatives:
  1. To gild the small wooden heart [top left] I simply used a sponge to dab glue all over it and added the flakes on top.
  2. The stripe down the edge was made by covering a strip of strong double-sided tape.
  3. For the die-cut cork heart I stencilled the glue through some sequin waste, removed the stencil, and gilded the design beneath [this is definitely something I'm going to try again with all of those masks and stencils I used to use with ink/paint].  
And if that's whetted your appetite for trying out some more 'freestyle' gilded designs then you're probably going to enjoy gilding foils ...

Gilding foil:
Unlike the flakes gilding foils come as a full sheet of gold [and other colours] but, similar to the flakes they are applied to a project using a specialist glue. 
In the case of the Tonertex range [which is the brand I have experience of] the glue is delivered via what they call the Write 'n' Rub foiling pen: 
What the pen design means is that you have the complete freedom to foil any design you fancy; you're not limited to which designs of stamp you have in your collection. If you can write, draw or scribble it [ideal for my scrappy-style pages] then you can foil it!

I'll admit that, occasionally, the pen did play tricks on me [glue coming out when I didn't want it to/not coming out when I did] but this may be due to how I'd stored it. And, to be fair, there are tips on how to avoid this on the pen itself plus there's a useful trouble-shooting page on the Tonertex website to deal with this. But that aside ... here's some ideas on how to put it to use ...
  • Once the glue is flowing you can do anything with it. This could be writing out a phrase or key word, drawing around a stencil or free-styling to highlight interesting areas on your page.
  • Here I traced around some cloud outlines on a vintage image:
  • Then leave it to dry when it will turn clear - this doesn't take long at all.
  • Next place the foil sheet over the dried glue and smooth it out with your fingers, pressing down to make sure the foil had made contact with all of the glued areas:
  • Peel off the foil sheet and that's all there is to it! You're golden [and so is your project!]
  • BTW the end result here is only patchy because that's how I wanted it:
Unlike using the gilding flakes [where you need to remove the glue from your stamps] this method of gilding doesn't involve any clean-up afterwards ... which is ideal if you're a lazy crafter like me!

And, because it was so quick and easy, I went on a small gilding spree ...
Here I used the gold lines to connect together elements from two separate images:
 And here to spruce up the stripe on these trousers:
 And I realised that if I didn't make the pen flow fully I could achieve a nice, scratchy effect:
And, finally, for both this post and my 'Fortune & Geese Favour the Bold' project ... I also used the Write 'n' Rub pen to gild my book cover:
I simply ran the pen around the indent which bordered my cover and pressed the foil sheet down into it ... and the end results were pretty close to the original gilding on the spine!
 And there we have it:
So, that's my very own book project ... how about yours?
  • Are you plotting to try out any of the ideas in the series?
  • Are you tempted to seek out some new gilding or foiling products OR, better still ...
  • are you tempted to dive into your existing crafty stash to unearth some you already have but haven't used in a while?
As always, you're welcome to send me links to your projects or simply leave a comment here or over on my Facebook page [whichever's easiest] with your ponderings on gilding and foiling.

Seriously ... how could you resist joining in what could be one of the most vital conversations of 2015??!

Julie ;-)


  1. Love that you called it 'My very own book'....I think my brother has some gold leaf sheets left over from a DIY home makeover project they were doing....I'll ask him to pop me a few in the post as you've whet my appetite!

  2. Oh oh, I just LOVE anything gold and gilded! off now to gild "my very own" book!!!! Thankyou so much Julie for all your ideas and inspiration for making Altered Books xx

  3. It must be fate. I just picked up some copper foiling supplies - for no particular reason - on my most recent crafty shopping trip. Thanks for the inspiration to actually USE it.


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