If you follow me on Instagram, you may know my recent new interest is hand lettering of all sorts. I’ve tried brush lettering, broad-pen calligraphy, and pointed-pen calligraphy (aka modern calligraphy).
Pointed pen has turned out to be my favorite. I was able to attend an excellent two-day workshop with Melissa Esplin of Calligraphy.org here in Utah, and it was my first time ever using a pointed nib. I really like it because I can write small, as is my normal preference, and because the alphabet we learned closely resembles the cursive I learned and tried to perfect back in second and third grade.
One of the exciting things Melissa showed us is the ability of the dip pen to write with adhesive so you can foil it! You need an adhesive that is fluid enough to write with, and which will stay tacky long enough to add foil. She emptied the adhesive from a Deco Foil Adhesive Pen into a paint container, but I couldn’t find it locally and took a chance on Martha Stewart Crafts Gilding Adhesive instead, which works well for me.
Here is what you’ll need for this foiled hand lettering technique (some affiliate links):
- Calligraphy nib (I used Brause Steno)
- Calligraphy pen holder (here is the oblique holder I’m using)
- Liquid adhesive (Martha Stewart Crafts Gilding Adhesive)
- Windex, OR 1/2 soap 1/2 water mixture
- Small containers for holding the liquids (here)
- Heat reactive foil (such as Heidi Swapp Minc foil, Deco Foil, or TRW Magic Foil)
- Embossing machine (such as the Cuttlebug, Sizzix, Evolution, etc.)
- Paper – I used white Canson marker paper in my example, but it might be easier to see on solid dark paper
Here’s the process I use.
1- Fill two small containers, one with Windex or 1/2 liquid soap 1/2 water, and the other with the liquid adhesive.
2- Dip the pen nib in Windex or diluted soap first to protect the nib, then into the adhesive.
3- Write with the adhesive on paper, dipping in both again as necessary. So far I have not been able to get very controlled thick and thin lines, and maybe that will come with practice or a different nib, or perhaps it’s a drawback of this adhesive. But I’m still happy with the results.
The gilding adhesive dries fairly quickly and stays tacky. I’ve been able to apply the foil in as little as ten minutes after writing, and have waited as long as two days, still with success.
(Be sure to clean your nib thoroughly when you are done writing so the glue doesn’t dry on your nib and clog it for future use.)
4- To apply the foil, simply lay the heat-reactive foil (enough to cover all of the writing) on top of the tacky handwritten adhesive, colored side up. It only takes pressure to make it stick, so you can actually get most or all of it on by rubbing with your fingers or a burnishing tool. However, you get the best raised and glossy look by running it through a press.
I have the Cuttlebug, but there are several similar hand-crank embossing machines that do the same job (see the supply list above).
With the original Cuttlebug, use plates A, C and B, with a piece of cardstock on top of the foil and another piece of cardstock under the paper. This is partly to protect your plates from stray adhesive and foil, and it helps use an appropriate amount of total pressure for this task.
5- Roll it once in and back out in reverse. Note: I’ve found that if you reapply foil perhaps for a spot you missed and run it through again, the foiled part that went through the first time gets a dull finish, which I don’t like. Burnishing with a tool can give a dull look, as well.
6- Remove the foil sheet to expose glossy, raised and foiled handwriting.
You can see steps 4-6 in this sped-up video I made:
Thanks to Melissa Esplin who introduced me to this technique. You can read her blog post here.
This post contains affiliate links. It won’t change your price, but it helps you by getting exactly the product I used, and it helps me by giving me a little kickback to help support this blog. Win-win. 🙂