Foils Aint Foils

Foiling Stationery School

I remember the exact moment I told my little brother that Santa wasn’t real. (I know - I am a terrible human. Don’t judge me.)

It was a really, really hot day in the midst of the summer holidays, amongst a constant stream of Sunny Boys, Zooper Doopers, freshly cut grass and parents leaving you at home alone all day while they worked. We were doing that thing were you jump in the pool then get out and lie on the hot concrete until you get warm, and then jump back in the pool again. Hashtag eightieslife. Hashtag simplertimes.

We were in one of the concrete and warm up breaks (possibly without sunscreen, DEFINITLEY without rashies and hats. In fact, I don’t think rashies were even invented, or if they were they were, they were only for die hard surfies who lived down on the coast and certainly not those who lived in North Central country Victoria) and I was possibly feeling hard done by or ganged up against by my siblings so I used the one superpower I had as a 12ish year old big sister. The conversation went like this.
Me: “You know how Inspector Gadget it a cartoon and not real?”
Brother: “Yes”
Me: “Well you know that Santa is the same”
Sweet little innocent brother: “Santa’s not a cartoon.”
Meanest big sister ever: “No, he’s not a cartoon, but he’s not real either.”
End of conversation. And in one swoop I have devastated my little 8ish year old brother, destroyed his childhood and that was the end of Christmas for him forever more. And we still talk about that moment to this day, and he still hates me for it, and I still have guilt that will never leave me.

Sometimes, things aren’t always what they seem.

Santa Claus, ‘Can do no wrong' big sisters, timeshare offers, the size of objects in your rear vision mirror, instagram photos….. you get the idea.

Now lets bring this back to stationery.

Shiny foil on stationery is treatment on your invitation that will set your invitation suite apart! It's been on trend for a while now, but lets not beat around the bush, having a foiled finish on your invitation suite can be expensive! There's a reason for that. There foils and there are foils. There's the real Santa Claus, and the fake Santa Claus.

I am definitely NOT a foiling expert by any means, but I do know the difference between the two main types of foiling so let me enlighten you. 

There’s toner reactive foil (or TRF) and there’s foil stamping.


TRF is a cheaper option that even crafters at home can do if they want to. There are products on the market that are readily available so you can foil to your hearts content. TRF uses foil that will react to toner (just like a laser printer would use), heat and pressure and it works best on coated or very smooth papers. As the name suggests, it “fuses” to the toner with heat and pressure.

The results when using TRF can be inconsistent and the quality is much poorer than foil stamping. I use TRF for my samples, small tags and cupcake toppers when the order is not very large.

I never recommend TRF to my clients for their invitation suites or larger areas of foil.

Foil Sample | Emma Smith Event Stationery

I much prefer the quality of foil stamping and I use this most of the time when you see foil featured on my products. I cannot do it in my studio, so I outsource it to a printer who specialises in foil stamping.


Foil stamping uses a metal plate with a raised and reversed image of your design (these can be made of several different metals). The plate is heated and then run through a press (there are several types of press that can do this). A thin roll of foil goes between the heated plate and the paper and the pressure from the press makes it all fuse together leaving behind a stunning foiled image that is evenly and completely covered in foil.

Foil stamping will work on so many more types of paper and cardstock too, enabling you to have a higher quality, thicker cardstock. 

Foil Sample | Emma Smith Event Stationery

I guess that’s my little educational piece for the moment, which seems much more helpful than the whole Santa thing. 

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