The Skill of Combining Foil Blocking and Embossing

Downey is a bespoke creative studio and printing house with a wide range of processes, crafts and hand finishing techniques being offered in-house by their team of experts. With these resources available, it allows for great opportunity to combine techniques and processes together and make something truly beautiful.

A fine example of this is the use of foil blocking and embossing.

Large downey bevel embossing sculptured embossing gold foil embossing

So, what is foil blocking? Well simply put, foil blocking is the application of a metallic or pigment foil onto a card or paper stock (fabric can also be used in some cases). The foil is combined with an etched metal tool, this can be made from brass, magnesium or copper and depends on the material, detail and machine used for production. The tool is heated on the printing press and with the optimum, the tool is stamped into the material with a large amount of pressure. The heat & pressure allows for the foil to adhere to the surface with a slight debossing (indentation) into the card.

Foils are available in many colours but do not apply to the same structure as the Pantone shades so you will need to review the available ranges from each foil provider to make your selection.

Large downey silver foil blocking

Embossing is the process of using an etched brass or copper tool, applying a large amount of pressure whilst on machine and applying it to the material of choice. This can be applied to a substrate that has been printed or foil blocked, or on a plain sheet to achieve a ‘blind embossing’ which means emboss without ink/foil. This process allows you to create an impression and texture using the card/paper stock only. It allows for clever use of shadow and textured material to create a beautiful effect

You can choose to apply embossing with a single level of depth, or you can use a multi-depth tool to increase the effectiveness of the process to enhance the design, this is often known as multi-level, sculptured or chiselled embossing.

Small downey sothebys collectors dinner blind embossed invitation Small downey blind embossing coat of arms

Current trends are indicating the more frequent use of blind embossing. This is driven by the desire for a luxury craft process, subtle yet effective branding and a texture material that is uncoated, allowing for a user to ‘feel’ the texture and process applied. This heightens the experience and tangible interaction with the stationery or invitation.

Both above processes are often used independently for invitations, stationery or bespoke packaging for example. But when the two are combined, we can achieve some remarkably effective visuals and stylish results.

A fine example of gold foil blocking, and embossing is below. This is a favourite from our portfolio showing how we combined the processes for our own seasonal cards and applied a heavy amount of pressure to thick card stock to achieve this impressive 3D result.

Small lr downey gold foil blocking and embossing Small lr downey gold foiling scupltured emboss

To make the most of these processes and options available please reach out to us. We’re happy to share samples and offer our advice about how to make your invitations, stationery or packaging move up to another tier of luxury.