Reported by Heather Strenzwilk
Aside from being less messy than foil glue, my favorite feature of the pen is that to use it you must press the small white button near the tip to turn it on. You will hear a click and the red light will light to show the pen is heating. As soon as you stop pressing the button, the pen turns off. I never had to worry about leaving the pen on accidentally.
I can add foil to a project in under 30 seconds! Simply put a sheet of foil (pretty side up) over the surface to be foiled. On a smooth surface, the foil tends to slide; the manufacturer recommends taping the edges of the foil for stability. The Hot Foil Pen has a white plastic ball stylus tip. Pre-heat the pen by pressing the white power button near the tip of the pen for 5 seconds and start foiling by “writing” on the foil.
The actual process of foiling has more of a learning curve. Like a marker, the amount of pressure or surface will affect the finished line. A harder work surface such as glass or a wood yields thinner lines than a softer, self-healing craft mat. Although the pen is easy to hold (similar in size to a jumbo pencil), I had to adjust my hold to make sure I was always pressing the power button. Writing is particularly challenging because you must write slowly and apply more pressure than you would with a ball point pen. The manufacturer said that writing “abc” should take about 5 seconds- this is an exercise in patience for speedy writers.
The heat from the pen removes the foil from the sheet and imprints it on the surface below. As you foil, the sheet will have clear areas as the foil is removed. This can be helpful because you can see which areas need to be gone over again with the Hot Foil Pen. But because the foil is opaque, it is next to impossible to see where you are applying the foil. When I was writing words on scraps of cardstock it was no problem, but trying to apply a thin foil border to a digital image was impossible for me (I gave up after ruining 5 images).
As you can see from my samples, writing with this product doesn’t yield the smooth foiled look of professionally printed invitations. For my projects, I preferred to add a touch of foil for interest and this I think is where the product excels. The company website suggests adding foil to cards, scrapbooks, leather, wood and ribbon.
I had never considered foiling ribbon but it made perfect sense- how often do we see blue award ribbons with gold foil lettering? For my samples, I used satin ribbon from Offray. It took me several yards of ribbon to produce what you see here. I started using a glass cutting board as my work surface before switching to a self-healing craft mat. The ribbon moved around more than cardstock, and since it was narrower, it took some practice to get my freehand flowers near the center of the ribbon and then to get them foiled completely (by pressing hard and drawing slowly). There is a definite learning curve which I still haven’t mastered.
I also used the pen with a cheap vinyl stencil of polka dots which I put on top of the foil which was taped to some black cardstock. By placing the stencil OVER the foil, I was able to see where I was drawing. This was a lot of fun and surprisingly the heat from the pen didn’t damage the stencil at all. However, the black cardstock made it more difficult to see any places I had missed while foiling. But I loved the dramatic look of the foil on the dark background.
The manufacturer’s website suggests adding foil to wood and leather. I didn’t have any scrap leather, but I did find a wooden craft stick. The wood was very forgiving. After only one false start, I was able to write my name (lol). I can see this as a great way to add details to a wood-based project.
I purchased my Hot Foil Pen several years ago but the product remains relatively unchanged. The pen comes with several 3″x 4″ sheets of foil and sometimes bonus cardboard stencils. Refills of the acid-free gold, silver, red, blue, green and rainbow foil are also available separately. I have foil sheets from another manufacturer in my stash and I have also had success using them with the Hot Foil Pen. The manufacturer casually mentions that different colors of foil behave differently and I had to agree. I found silver rainbow (discontinued by the manufacturer and replaced by rainbow) and silver to transfer the best. The red foil was the most difficult to work with, and the results appeared a bit tarnished.
To be honest, I have probably used the Hot Foil Pen more to doodle on scrap paper more than I have on finished projects. But it is fun, it isn’t messy, and is relatively easy to use. I allowed my at the time eight-year old child to use the pen (with adult supervision) and she was able to use it as well. Then pen retails for around $12.99 and refill packs with 12 sheets of foil are around $2.99.
- Lightweight, battery-operated, and the power button must be pressed for it to generate heat so you can’t leave it on accidentally
- Available in chain craft stores, scrapbook stores, discount department stores and online
- Foil is heat-set so no messy glues or tapes are needed. After the foil is applied the project is ready to use- no drying time.
- The accompanying foil sheets are a bit short for longer lines of text
- Definite learning curve
- Heavily burnishing the foil to apply it, may cause the edges applied foil to appear ragged or uneven
I was initially purchased my Hot Foil Pen because it was on clearance for $5 and I was able to acquire a lifetime supply of foil for it for another $5. I love that it is no mess, doesn’t require set-up time and doesn’t require drying time like foil glues. The product is fairly easy to use but does have a learning curve to find which work surfaces and amount of pressure work best for various media, such as paper or ribbon. The pen requires two “AA” batteries so it is portable and it has a small footprint so storage is easy. If you are looking for the precision of professional foiled printing, this tool won’t give you that but it is a quick way to add a touch of foil and elegance to your project.
Have you tried the Hot Foil Pen by Staedtler? How do you add foil to your craft projects? Please share your comments with our readers.