How to Use Mylar-Backed Crafting Foils

In this tutorial we’re going to learn how to use my mylar-backed foils for crafting and clay but we’ll just be showing how to apply them to conditioned polymer clay.

The foils come in sets with six colors per set. This is from the Expressions set which includes sheets of copper, splash, silver, gold, a silver-backed oil slick and the transluscent oil slick that’s called pearlidescent. This gives a mother of pearl sheen to any color of clay that you apply it to.

Another set we’ll take a look at is the Bold and Bright collection. We’re adding foils to the line all the time, new patterns and new colors. But in this collection we have green, red, blue, purple, magenta and one of my personal favorites, rainbow.

Now it doesn’t really matter which color of clay you apply these to as all of the foils except for the pearlidescent are opaque. You can’t see through them once they are applied. The foils are always applied to conditioned and flat polymer clay with the color facing up. With the pearlidescent it can be a little tricky because you can see color from both sides. The instructions that come with the product will tell you that the matte side goes face down against your clay.

What causes the foil to stick to clay is heat not pressure. But we apply the heat by using pressure. We burnish the foil on. But rather than just using our finger tips alone, we’re going to use a tool; and that is very simply any piece of scrap paper. The reason for that is as we are rubbing or burnishing we’re applying pressure. I like to use my index and my middle finger; and the flat pads of your fingers work best. Not your finger tips. We don’t want to gouge it with your nails. So hold it firmly on your work surface and apply pressure, flat even pressure as you quickly burnish. If we were to burnish with our finger tips alone the body oils in our skin and the residues from handling clay would slow this process down not giving us enough heat to get the foil to transfer.

Now hopefully as I demonstrate this you’re going to see a very common occurrence that happens when you work with the foils applying larger sections of foil to clay. So we burnish for about 30 to 60 seconds. Now if you’ve ever had your legs waxed this is a very similar process. You rip the foil off as quickly as possible. Don’t peel it. Don’t pull it. But rip it very quickly. And you also don’t pull the foil or rip it by lifting up. You pull it backwards flat against the plain of your work surface. So let’s go and see how this happens. Ready? Alright.

Now it’s very common with all the foils that small flecks of foil may not release from the mylar backing. Sometimes that’s because your foil isn’t completely flat. There might be divets, air bubbles or scratches in the surface. Oftentimes that’s not the case. If you’d like to put those pieces back in all you have to do is realign them over the top. Almost like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. If they’re really small flecks like you just saw there I usually wouldn’t bother with this step. But I want you to know how to fix it. We put them back on and we burnish for 30 to 60 seconds. Keep in mind that as you burnish and apply pressure the clay is going to spread a little bit. It’s going to round the edges giving it a bit of a bull-nose edge. So when you’re applying the clay—or the foil to clay—and you might want to roll out a little more clay than you think you’re going to use, cause you’re not going to get the foil to adhere to the very outer edges.

Now here is the important trick to remember. Again, these are in your instructions that come with each product. Rather than pulling off the foil in the same direction, we’re going to pull it from a different direction. It doesn’t have to be the opposite direction as long as it is a different direction. Most of the time you do this it will lay down all the foil back into place. One of the things I like to do with the foil is to apply texture to it. Here we’re using my Stripe-Tube Stamp, texture stamp and with our foil still on our work paper we’ll place it face down against the stamp. We don’t need a release agent because the foil will act as a release agent. Taking an acrylic brayer we’re going to make one firm pass over the back of the paper. The paper prevents the roller from sticking to the clay. Don’t roll back and forth when you do this process. And then we have a beautiful embossed texture. Alright?

Now let’s talk about what you do with little left-over scraps of foil. Just like with polymer clay there’s no waste in foil. You will eventually use your sheets until all you have left are little edges and flecks that aren’t enough to lay down larger sheets or strips. I like to use these to do a technique I call confetti foiling.

We burnish them on just a little bit differently. Very simply putting your finger down against the clay with pressure and pulling it off will lay down small flecks of foil. And you can use any color you like, mix them up from different sets and different sheets; and I call this confetti foiling because it reminds me of the look you get if you were to throw confetti in the air and let it land where it may. This is a beautiful technique for getting a folia de croate effect. You can do it of course on any color of clay you like but for foi do corona effects I think black gives the most intensity. You may decide that you want to fill up every visible area of your clay with foil or you may leave some of the background color exposed. In the case of the folia de croate effects a little bit of black showing really intensifies the foil. Just continue to fill up the area that you need to use for your project until you’re happy with the effect. See how that spot was just a little bit stubborn and my finger heat didn’t make that stick? If you have stubborn areas you can just do the burnishing trick with your scrap paper to get larger pieces to lay down. Big pieces, small pieces, but random effects is a really nice way to get confetti foiling.

Let’s take a look at some of the projects that you can do with the foil but beforehand I’d like to tell you that some of the brighter colors, those from the Bold and Bright collection may fade a bit if the heat of your oven is excessively high. You should use an oven thermometer and pre-heat. If your foil should fade, it’s very easy to intensify the colors again using brightly colored permanent markers like I have here. Don’t use the darker tones. Those won’t help. You won’t see the fading happen with things like copper and gold and silver from the Expressions set. But in this Bold and Bright piece see how easy it is for me to heighten the intensity of the colors after I bake just by going over those areas that faded just a bit. You’ll find some colors like blues and greens don’t tend to fade as much. But it’s very easy to change tonality. So that’s just how easy it is to control the outcome with your foils.

A few inspirational projects you might try are to just foil different sheets of clay and then use the embossing cutters like I did here for this dancing leaf kinetic pendant that was made using my leaf embossing set.

Another example of a fun foil technique to try is to put the pearlidescent over another color of clay. Here you see it over lavender clay. It was embossed on the Swirlique Stamp and then flat-back crystallized swarovski elements were pressed into the center of each swirl to make the back of this luggage tag.

Again here we’ve done a foil technique using the confetti foil and the paisley stamp to get this lovely heart that has been covered with Magic-Glos that makes it look like folia de croate glass.

And lastly this is a piece I’m particularly proud of. Genevieve Lang from JHB who’s an amazing graphic artist who does all the beautiful work on my packaging did this piece. This is not her first clay piece but it was her first folia de croate piece. She doesn’t have a lot of experience but you’d never know it from looking at this. This is something I would buy happily buy in any gallery or shop. It’s just beautiful and you could never tell it wasn’t folia de croate glass.

So I hope you enjoy working with the foils making beautiful creations of your own.

Celebration Foil Collection 

Price: $6.49
Fantasy Foil Collection 

Price: $6.49
Bold & Bright Foil Collection 

Price: $6.49
Expressions Foil Collection 

Price: $6.49
Jewel Tones Foil Collection 

Price: $5.90
Silver Foil Collection 

Price: $6.49
Copper Foil Collection 

Price: $6.49
Pearlisdescent Foil Collection 

Price: $6.49
Surprise! Foil Collection 

Price: $6.49
Rainbow Foil Collection 

Price: $6.49
Sunset Foil Collection 

Price: $6.49
Gold Foil Collection 

Price: $6.49

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