Printing Methods: Foil Stamping

First things first, I have a (now) funny story to share with you! I met Courtney of Pizzazzerie.com back in 2012 at the first ever Amber Housley Inspired workshop. Shortly after the workshop Courtney reached out to me and asked if I could turn three of the southern sayin' note cards I provided for the swag bags into gold foil prints. "Sure", I thought! If Pizzazzerie asks you to do something, you say yes! At this time I had never had gold foil prints done and I honestly had no clue what I had gotten myself into. I emailed a couple of print shops I had heard of and I literally cried when I read the quotes coming in. They were in the thousands! At this time my shop was still a side gig and I had never invested in product like this before. I asked around to some local industry friends and was introduced to who I work with now and while the process was going to cost me much more than I ever expected, it was less than $1,000 for all three prints. It was definitely scary, but I'm so glad I said yes and that I was able to figure out a way that worked for me!

The second most asked question I get is probably, "Where do you get your gold foil prints made?". I've even had someone call me to ask where I have them printed. I don't know what it is, but foil stamping has had a lot of designers stumped. So, to try and take the fear out of the process, and prevent you from having a mini-meltdown like I did, I'm going to share a little information with you! Let's get started.

What is foil stamping?

Foil stamping is a specialty printing method that uses heat and pressure to literally stamp foil into paper. To do this, a metal die (plate) is created of your design, it's heated and then used to stamp, making the foil adhere to the surface leaving the design of the die on the paper. The metal dies can cost you anywhere from $100-$400 depending on the size of your design. There are thousands of foil options to choose from, though many print shops have their "in house" foils they like to use so be sure to ask for some samples to help you select the right one for your project.

Tips & Advice

The trick to having a healthy profit margin for foil prints is to order a larger quantity. I get requests all the time for custom foil prints and the customer only wants to purchase ONE print. I would have to charge them around $500 for it, which I'm guessing is not the price point they were hoping for! I usually purchase our prints in quantities of 200-400 to make sure we are getting a great price per print. I honestly should have more than that printed so I don't have to place new orders so frequently, but I'm still a little scared to have such large quantities in stock. Also, keep in mind that even though your first run will include the cost of the metal die, it's something you can use over and over so it's considered an asset.

I use McGraphics Inc., a company located in Nashville, TN, for most of my foil stamping projects. If you head over to their website, please don't judge the book by it's cover! For some reason printing companies usually have pretty awful websites, but I am so pleased with their quality of work and have really enjoyed working with them. They don't do any flat (digital) or screen printing so they do a lot of work for printing shops around town. Since I do mainly foil only prints, I cut out the middleman and work exclusively with McGraphics! They will ship to you if you're not local, which they will be doing for me starting in December since I'm moving! If you're interested in working with them, I work with Fred (fred@mcgraphicsinc.com) and you can shoot him an email. Please tell him I sent you!

Do you have any questions about foil stamping? If so, just leave them in the comments!


7 comments

  • Hi Stephanie,

    This is slightly unrelated – but I was wondering if you had a thermography printer that you used locally and liked? Is that something McGraphics does as well? (I didn’t see it listed on their site).

    Thanks so much!

    Ryann
  • Hi Amanda! I actually do not work with inDesign at all. I have the program but have probably opened it a total of 2 times the entire 8 years I’ve worked with Creative Suite. I’m an Illustrator girl all the way so I’ll try and answer your question the best way I can. If you have any other questions, just let me know!

    When I’m working with McGraphics I am producing a foil only print so I send them a file with my design as a black vector. Make sure you change any fonts to outlines because more than likely they won’t have the same selection as you do. If I’m making an 8″ × 10″ print I create and 11″ × 14″ file with trim marks so the final size will be 8″ × 10″. I send them a PDF and that’s about it! Your printer may require a specific file type or set up and so it’s always good to talk to them ahead of time. McGraphics makes it super easy and there really isn’t much set up involved other than the design process!

    I hope that helps! Again, if you have any other questions just let me know! ;)

    Stephanie Creekmur
  • Hey Stephanie, can you explain the general process (if you are using indesign) of getting a design ready to be printed as a foil print? Thanks!

    Amanda
  • Hi April!

    I personally have never worked with them on foil stamping and I do think you’d get a better price if you reached out to a printer local to you. If you are doing gold foil on a customer’s invitation it might be a better fit but I would definitely get a couple of quotes before you make your decision!

    Another thing for everyone to keep in mind that I forgot to mention above is that the dies can be made out of different materials. McGraphics uses dies made out of copper I believe and they have a longer shelf life. I could have an acrylic die made but 1. McGraphics won’t use it so I’d have to find another printer and 2. It wouldn’t last me as long. If I was doing an invitation or something that would only be run once I might opt for the cheaper die, but for something like my Hey Y’all print that I’ve run thousands of times, it was a no brainer to go with the higher quality die!

    Stephanie Creekmur
  • Hi,
    Would you recommend Stationeryhq for gold foil/ regular product printing.
    Thx
    April

    April

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