Hot Foil Pen by Staedtler

Reported by Heather Strenzwilk

In the past, when I wanted to add a touch of foil to a project, my options were limited to bulky double-stick tape or messy foil glue. Then I discovered another option: the Hot Foil Pen by Staedtler. This easy-to-use product runs on two “AA” batteries, uses heat to adhere the foil, so it is neat, and doesn’t require any drying time. Hot Foil Pen + Foil + surface is all you need to foil.

Attempt #1 at writing on matte cardstock (I wrote too fast and didn’t press hard enough)

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.

Attempt #2 is better because I pressed harder and I went back and re-traced the letters

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.

Attempt #3 is getting better as I wrote really S L O W and pressed hard. For this attempt my work surface was a self healing mat which gives more than the glass I used for my other attempts

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.

It is easy to add a touch of elegance to satin 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.

Silver rainbow foil (replaced by rainbow foil) makes dramatic backgrounds

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.

I wrote my name above on wooden craft stick

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.

The foiled ribbon is distressed a bit by unraveling the ends

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.


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7 Responses to Hot Foil Pen by Staedtler

  1. Avatar
    StampinCathy December 2, 2010 at 8:53 am #

    I haven’t heard of this pen. Adding this to my must have. What a fun pen and all the projects are fabulous. I just use the 2 way glue to do foil.

  2. Avatar
    sleeplesswonder December 2, 2010 at 8:55 am #

    This is the first time I have ever seen a pen like this. I like it, it looks cool to be able to add a little foil touch to projects. With practise I am sure you could do really pretty things with this.

  3. Avatar
    TiaKeas December 2, 2010 at 11:55 am #

    Great tool, can’t wait to try it out.

  4. Avatar
    Linda December 2, 2010 at 12:34 pm #

    I didn’t know there was anything like this on the market. I do love what you did on the ribbon…very awesome look!!

  5. Avatar
    Dee in N.H. December 2, 2010 at 6:58 pm #

    Wow, had never heard of it but will be on the lookout for one. Sounds like fun!

  6. Avatar
    craftirn December 2, 2010 at 8:37 pm #

    I have been looking for this pen for 2 years. My art store is unable to order it from the manufacturer and slowly it has disappeared from eBay. I believe it has been discontinued. I really want one.

  7. Avatar
    Vina December 4, 2010 at 2:21 am #

    I’ve had this in my stash for years & completely forgot about it until now. Hmm..I agree with your comment about the learning curve. I think that is why it’s stuck in the back of a drawer somewhere. I’ll dig it out & try it again.