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Foil Imaging - A New Art Form

Foil Imaging is a revolutionary printmaking process being developed at the University of Iowa by Prof Virginia Myers and student research teams. As a member of one of her earliest teams it is my privilege to share with you some of the wondrous techniques for Foil Application.


Medium - Commercial Roll Leaf Foil
A synthetic gold leaf was created in Germany in the late 19th century to emulate the authentic and costly original gold leaf.This new imitation "gold leaf" product was designed to be applied to paper with heat and pressure, many referring to the product as "hot stamped roll leaf" or "foil". In the century following it's inception, Germany's patent rights were revoked. In the hands of other inventors the foil pallet exploded to include not only gold, but translucent, pearlescents, transparent, pigments, metallics and holographic colors as well. Today's current pallet is filled with unusual new colors with non-reflective and reflective qualities.

Foil Construction - Application
Foil is produced in rolls, as aluminum foil or cellophane would be seen, but it's make up is quite different. The foil color is chemically fabricated and floated onto a polyester carrier less than a millimeter thin. (See Foil Rolls in top photo) This color is seperated from the carrier by a wax release, allowing the foil to be transfered from the carrier to the surface it is being applied to. The basic components to this application are heat, pressure and dwell or time. This process is traditionally accomplished with commercial printing presses. But thanks to Professor Myers and some innovative engineers in Iowa, this process can now be mastered by the hands of skilled artisans such as myself.


With proper pressure and dwell most foils will adhere to a number of substrates at temperatures between 180F and 220F. These temperatures can be precisely controlled using the Iowa Foil Printer (IFP) for application. The innovative design of the IFP, which is essentially a very ingenious hot plate and hot rolling pin, enables me to control the temperature of application to the degree, the pressure applied by my hand and the dwell necessary to place the foil where I would choose. It is remarkable to view first hand.

General techniques would include, but are not limited to:

-Cutting Foil before application

-Manipulating Foil for texture before application

-Layering Foil to Create new colors

-Removing foil with steel wool after application

-Scratching surface of foil with sharp objects after application

-Using stencils to control application area

-Using polymere medium prior to foil application


Foil Imaging - A New Art Form Book

Explore the beginning of Foil Imaging through this first time publication about the Art of Foil Imaging. Available for purchase at WDG Communications



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