DIY Gilding Calligraphy with Deco Foil


This post is in partnership with Therm O Web’s Deco Foil™ line. I’ve been using this stuff for a couple of months now and I figured it was high time I shared with you how I use it! It’s incredibly easy and adds SO MUCH SPARKLE to your work (calligraphy or otherwise).


In the above image I’ve applied the metallic foil (I don’t dare say gold, because it’s not real gold) in 3 different ways; (from top) laminator, bone folder and die cut machine. My favorite is probably the die cut machine, second is the bone folder because of the application. But I’ll talk about that a little later.

The foils come in a zillion different colors. I’m excited to try the watercolor foils soon because of the subtle color variation from one spot to another. Here I’ve used Pink Melon (top), Rose Gold (middle) and Copper (bottom). I use the copper one the most, it photographs better than the lighter golds do, so I prefer that. Let’s go through the materials needed for this technique and just get going, shall we?



The supplies list feels kind of long to me; but I bet if you’re anything like me, you’ll have most of these things. For the instructions, click the read more button below!


First things first, prep the “ink”. Get your Deco Foil™ Adhesive pen and pull out the nib. If it hasn’t been used before, you can just pull it out with your fingers. If you’ve used it for other projects, you may need to pull out with pliers to keep your fingers from getting sticky.


Insert the blunt end of a toothpick into the pen.


There’s a valve that you have to depress in order for the adhesive to come out. Press it with the toothpick while squeezing the pen.

If you’re having a hard time getting enough pressure on the pen, grab some pliers or just squeeze the pen tube until the adhesive comes out.

Note: if you have miniatum on-hand, you can use that instead of bleeding out the adhesive pen.


Now clean your nib with windex/dishsoap. It should help keep the adhesive from destroying the pen.


Now you’re ready to load the pen and start writing/drawing!


It’s much easier to see what you’re doing when writing on black paper. As you can see the glossy adhesive stands out nicely. If you’re using white paper, you may want to sit where light can bounce off of it. Make sure your hairlines don’t go too fine.


Here’s what it looks like while it’s still drying. The white spots aren’t ready to be foiled yet.


Now we’re ready to foil. I should mention that there’s not a specific time window where this won’t foil. You can leave it to set for a couple hours and be just fine. As long as no dust or any oils come in contact with it, you should be fine to go. If you don’t wait long enough for the adhesive to set, the foil will explode on you a little bit. Not like BOOM! and a puff of smoke, but you’ll get foil in places where you don’t want foil.


Cut your foil piece to size and put it on the embosser base. I like to put a cover sheet of card stock overtop to apply more pressure from the embosser/die cut machine.


Roll it through once or twice.

For the bonefolder method: Place the foil on top with a guard sheet overtop so nothing slides around. Apply even pressure across the foiled area, but don’t over rub or it will burnish the metal and loose a lot of its luster.

For the Laminator method: Place the foil on top of the artwork and slide into folded parchment paper. Send the artwork through the laminator folded side first on the 5ml setting.


Now admire your results!


It’s a great way to add some brightness to a Thank You note, an envelope or anything. If you’re not the artist type, just add foil to your favorite stationery. It’s wicked easy. So let’s break down the different methods below:


The Bone Folder Method

I had small areas to add gold, so I used a bone folder instead. I burnished some parts of the “Thanks”, but it gives a subtle look to it. The nice thing about using a bone folder is that no heavy equipment or electricity is required here.


The Laminator Method

The laminator works well if you don’t have other things on the paper. For some reason the foil stuck to my ink in addition to sticking to the adhesive. If you’re adding metallic details to pre-printed work, this may not be the best method.


The Die Cut/Embosser Method

I found I had the most success with this method. The only drawback is on some occasions, if I didn’t wait long enough for the adhesive to dry, the shades would explode on me because of the pressure used in order to apply the foil.

I hope you found this tutorial useful! Foiling ALL the things is just so much fun. And everyone things you’re magic. I like it when people think I’m magic (I’m not though). If you use this method, I’d love a tag on Instagram so I can admire your work!

*This tutorial is free for personal use and should not be distributed/republished without my consent. Altering any files is NOT ALLOWED. If you would like to use this freebie for commercial purposes, please email me. Thanks!
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    1. Evelyn Coup says:

      Really enjoyed how you foil, trying to learn calligraphy,but can not do such fine lines

      • Melissa says:

        I’d be happy to help you troubleshoot those fine lines! Most of the time it boils down to the tools you’re using. I teach over at – where we coach you and help you troubleshoot through all of that. :)

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