Shimmering Abstract Art: Easy Ways to Add Interest with Foil

abstract art foil examples

Those of us who love creating mixed-media abstract art cannot have too many choices when it comes to materials, right? Transfer foil is something you might want to think about adding to your creative toolbox for its enchanting “wow” factor. I love the way it suggests something is a bit extra special.

Recently, I shared a technique for using transfer foil with paper clay. Here, I’ll share with you three ways you can use transfer foil on your abstract art—one with the help of heat and two without. Materials in the list below include those for all three methods so you can experiment with each and see for yourself which work best for you and your particular piece of art.

In each example, I have used Deco Foil by Therm O Web. Transfer foil is available in many colors and even a few patterns. I chose silver and a champagne color for my experiments.

transfer foil

What You Need

artwork
cardstock (or medium-weight paper)
double-sided tape (I used Scotch brand)
foil glue or clear glue that remains tacky when dry (I used iCraft deco foil liquid adhesive)
iron
release paper (I used parchment)
scissors
transfer foil

Select or Create a Work of Art

You can add transfer foil to an already existing work, or, you may want to start a work from scratch. Foil may be added at multiple stages, but obviously, it will appear differently if it’s painted over than if it remains on the top layer.

In each of my abstract art pieces, I had most of the art finished before I added foil. Afterward, I added a few fine details to finish things.

Adding Foil with Tape

foil and tape on abstract art

One of the easiest ways to get foil onto your abstract art is to use double-sided tape. Cut pieces of tape to any shape you like and adhere to your work. Place a piece of transfer foil over the tape (shiny color side up). Burnish with your fingers. Remove the foil sheet and presto! Very cool shiny bits on your artwork!

foil on art using double-sided tape

Adding Foil with Glue

foil and glue step 1

Decide where you’d like to add just a few dots of foil on your abstract art. Use the applicator tip of the foil glue and make your dots.

foil and glue step 2

Place a piece of foil, shiny color side up, over the glue dots when the glue has dried. It should be clear and tacky. I like to cut down full sheets of transfer foil to more easy-to-manage sizes.

foil and glue step 3

Lightly and briskly rub over the dots with your fingers to release the foil from the sheet.

foil and glue step 4

Ta-dah! Admire all of your “hard work.” Shiny dots are so cute, I think. Wasn’t that easy?

abstract art with foil dots

abstract art with foil dots closeup

Adding Foil with Glue and Heat

glue and foil with heat step 1

Create a mask (or two) from cardstock or medium-weight paper. Decide on placement and lightly tape them in place using a tape “doughnut.”

glue and foil with heat step 2

Squeeze out some foil glue onto the center of each mask. While the glue is wet, spread it over the mask(s) onto the artwork. (The mask should act like a reverse stencil for the glue.)

glue and foil with heat step 3

When the glue is tacky, but not wet, place a piece of transfer foil over the area. (Note: You can actually remove your mask(s) at this point. I just forgot . . . duh.)

glue and foil with heat step 4

Place a piece of release paper or parchment paper over the foil. Iron on a medium setting, for about 20 seconds. Don’t worry, you won’t melt the transfer foil sheet! “Why use heat when the foil sticks to the cold glue?” you ask? I’ve found for larger areas (anything other than thin lines or dots), heat seems to improve transfer.

Removing Unwanted Foil

foil and glue with heat step 5

Let the foil cool completely. Carefully lift the foil sheet and you should see pretty foil on your artwork! If there is an area where some foil transferred but you didn’t want it to, don’t despair. A rubber cement pickup will gently remove the unwanted foil and glue.

See? No worries; the unwanted foil came right up. I imagine this was in part due to the fact I used watercolor paper.

See? No worries; the unwanted foil came right up. (I imagine this was in part due to the fact I used watercolor paper.)

foil and glue with heat final

From here, do any remaining work on your piece. The foil will resist watercolors.

glue and foil with heat

I’ve barely scratched the surface here in terms of ways you can add a bit of shimmer to your abstracts (or any work of art!). If you’d like to learn many more ways, take a look at Shimmer and Shine Workshop by Christine Adolph (whose work is so pretty!). Christine goes into detail about the properties of transfer foil as well as ways to get the most of out each sheet.

foil art

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