Painting on Foil to Make It Stick

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Painting on foil can produce interesting effects.
Painting on foil can produce interesting effects. (Image: Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images)

Foil is made of extremely thin sheets of aluminum, which have been flattened by a machine. The rolling process produces sheets with a shiny side and a matte side. Painting on the shiny side of a sheet of foil produces a lovely, shimmery effect that can add a new dimension to your finished artwork. Because the foil is shiny and smooth, getting paint to stick to it without flaking and cracking will prove challenging. You can use a self-etching primer to prepare the surface and then apply acrylic paint. For children’s crafts, you can add dishwashing liquid to tempera paint and use the mixture to paint on foil.

Things You'll Need

  • Foil
  • Tempera paint
  • Dishwashing liquid
  • Self-etching primer
  • Acrylic paint
  • Paint brushes
  • Water
  • Pencil
  • Cardboard

Acrylic

Prepare your foil surface for painting by stretching the foil flat on the work surface or on cardboard with the shiny side up.

Draw your design on the foil with the pencil. Use gentle pressure, as the foil is quite delicate and will easily rip and tear if you draw using excessive force.

Spray self-etching primer on the areas to be painted. The primer will damage the surface of the foil, by using a chemical reaction to create holes and roughen up the foil’s shiny surface. This will create a texture that will cause the paint to stick to the foil’s surface without flaking, peeling or cracking.

Paint your design using acrylic paints. You may brush the paint on in the traditional manner or use a spray-on latex acrylic paint.

Tempera

Lay the foil flat over cardboard or on your work surface with the shiny side facing up.

Mix one or two drops of dishwashing liquid into your tempera paints and stir thoroughly. The dishwashing liquid will help the paint to better stick to the foil, without peeling, flaking and cracking.

Draw your design onto the surface of the foil using the pencil. Use gentle pressure to prevent tearing through the foil’s delicate surface.

Paint your design onto the foil’s surface using paint brushes dipped in the mixture of paint and dishwashing liquid.

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