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How to Use the Minc Foil Applicator + Beginner Tips

The Heidi Swapp Minc Foil Applicator makes it easy to apply foil to any art work or craft project.  This tutorial will walk you through how the machine works, how to set it up and use it, plus give you tips and and tricks on how to get the best results.

How to use the Heidi Swapp Minc Foil Applicator- Beginner tips and tricks to get the best results and avoid common mistakes!

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What is the Heidi Swapp Minc Machine?

The Heidi Swapp Minc Machine is a simple but BRILLIANT product that allows you to apply foil to artwork, craft projects or anything else you can send through a laser printer!  They come in 2 sizes, the 12 inch Minc and the 6 inch Minc.  American Crafts provided me with the 12 inch, and prefer it because I can put standard 8.5×11″ paper through it without trimming it down.

The basic idea of how it works is that with the heat and pressure of the Minc machine, you can use foil sheets to adhere anywhere you have toner on your paper.  This means that you cannot print your project on a regular ink jet printer, but need to use a laser printer.  If you don’t have one there are a few easy and inexpensive options.

  1. Print your projects off at your local office store.  I have used both Office Depot and Staples and both offer a service where you can email over your file and they will print it off and have it ready and waiting when you arrive.  To get your local store’s email, just give them a call.  When printing in black and white, which is what you need for Minc foil projects, it can be as low as $0.10 a page for printing.
  2. If you think you will be doing a lot of foil projects, you might want to get a laser printer of your own.  They are actually really affordable and sometimes even go on sale under $50!  I got this laser printer which is a bit more expensive than that, but I wanted the option to do color as well for other projects. Less expensive ones like this black and white laser printer are usually around $80 but can go on super sale for under $50 usually around the holidays.
  3. If you are super artsy and do hand lettering or doodling, you might just want to go with a toner pen!  These let you draw free hand anything you want and the machine will apply foil to your artwork.  I have seen them at Hobby Lobby, and would assume other craft stores carry them as well.

How to Set Up Your Minc Foil Applicator

How to use the Heidi Swapp Minc Foil Applicator- Beginner tips and tricks to get the best results and avoid common mistakes!

The Minc foil applicator is actually one of the simplest machines to set up I have used in the craft world.  When you open the box you will see a few things.

  1. The Minc Machine
  2. Instruction manual
  3. 1 transfer folder
  4. 1 small sheet of gold foil
  5. 3 practice tags

To set up the Minc you first need to remove the tape over the forward reverse button as shown in the photo above, and then peel back the film over the top of the Minc.  After you have removed those, simply plug the machine in.

How to Use The Minc to Apply Foil to a Project

How to use the Heidi Swapp Minc Foil Applicator- Beginner tips and tricks to get the best results and avoid common mistakes!

Now to start your foil project!

  1. Print out whatever you want to apply the foil to on a laser printer. You can print it in black and white because anywhere the toner is will be covered with foil regardless.
  2. Turn on your Minc machine and set the heat setting using the middle button.  The guide gives you some very general guidelines, but I had the most success with setting 4 for coated paper and used setting 2 on thin uncoated copy paper (see note below.)  The machine will beep at you and the indicator light will turn green when it is ready.
  3. Next cut a piece of foil slightly larger than your design, so that the part to be foiled is completely covered by your cut foil sheet.  The directions suggest 1/4″ bigger. I think this is mostly due to the fact that it can shift a little inside the transfer folder.
  4. Place the paper inside the transfer folder image up.  Place the foil on top of the paper, lined up to cover the design with the shiny side up, and gently close the top over the transfer folder over the project, being careful to keep the foil smooth and unwrinkled.  Note: the foil may have very slight ripples in it and that is okay, it will smooth out in the machine, just avoid wrinkles and large ripples or creases.
  5. Now carefully feed the folder into the machine by holding up to the rollers.  If you hold it up to them, you shouldn’t have to push, it will just grab the folder and start to feed it through.  There is no need to push or pull the folder, just let the rollers take it through the machine and retrieve it on the other side.How to use the Heidi Swapp Minc Foil Applicator- Beginner tips and tricks to get the best results and avoid common mistakes!
  6. Once the folder is completely out of the rollers on the other side of the machine, gently open the folder and then again, gently, peel back the foil from your project.  It should stick where the toner was printed onto the paper and release where there was no toner.  Magic!

Tips and Tricks to get the BEST Results with Your Minc

How to use the Heidi Swapp Minc Foil Applicator- Beginner tips and tricks to get the best results and avoid common mistakes!I am pretty new to the Minc foil applicator but played with it quite a bit since I got it and found some tips and tricks so far that have helped me get better results I wanted to share with you.

  1. You will get the best results with professionally printed projects.  You will notice in the pic above, I had some spots on my Utah I printed with my home laser printer that didn’t take the foil.  At first I was annoyed but once I got the foil completely off I noticed that it actually gives it a very natural distressed look and kind of loved it!  If you send your files over to the office store and get them printed you will get the most even application.  However, after playing around I was able to get rid of almost 100% of the spots with my home printer too, so keep reading!
  2. If you use a home printer:
    • PAPER MATTERS- If you want a solid foil application, do not use plain copy paper, it will give you a very distressed look with a “textured look” to the finish.  With that said, the finish on the copy paper was actually very beautiful in it’s own right, but if you are going for a smooth foil finish there is pretty much no way to make plain paper work.
    • Coated paper worked extremely well for me.  The difference between the plain paper and coated paper on the same setting is night and day.  I used double coated paper for laser printers I bought at Staples in my home printer for use with the Minc.
    • Turn the heat up!  I found the manual very ambiguous on how to choose which setting to use.  Since nothing I was using was even as heavy as cardstock, I decided to start with a setting of 2, which resulted in some spotting on the coated paper and a very distressed finish on the regular copy paper.  When I turned the heat up to setting 4, the coated paper came out nearly flawless, but the copy paper was more or less the same.
  3. Try the Toner Pen– My friend Dawn from By Dawn Nicole, tried out the toner pen and said it worked flawlessly, so that also is highly recommended for those with a talent for hand drawn art.How to use the Heidi Swapp Minc Foil Applicator- Beginner tips and tricks to get the best results and avoid common mistakes!
  4. Apply your foil on one project at a time.  After my first attempt came out so well, I decided to do the next three small projects all at once since they all fit in the folder.  I cut one solid sheet of foil to fit over them and and ran it though the machine.  BAD IDEA!  The foil shifted and wrinkled and the end result showed those wrinkles all throughout the designs.  I tried to put the projects back through the machine one at a time and layered on more foil to see if I could get it to stick to the places the wrinkles showed through.  It did not ruin the project, but it certainly did not fix it.  It was more or less the same with a little less black, or distressed look, showing through.  It also dulled the shininess of the foil a bit when I put it through the second time, although this wasn’t too noticeable.
  5. Wrinkle on purpose for texture!  Now that I knew the effect the wrinkles produce, it can actually look pretty gorgeous, so if you want that distressed look, by all means, force the foil to wrinkle, or wad it up, then smooth it out, before placing it on top of your project and through the machine to get a natural distressed look.
  6. Use multiple colors of foil.  You can cut up foil and add multiple pieces of different colors on top of your project to create a multicolor effect.  I tried the a couple of times and it works really well! All I did was lay down the first smaller pieces in the places I wanted them and then added a larger piece over the top to make sure everything was covered.
  7. Save your extras!  Any foil that is left on the sheet after you send the folder through the Minc, then peel the foil sheet off of your project, can be reused for another smaller project.  I have been cutting out any decent sized pieces and keeping them in a scrap box.
  8. Don’t try to “Reverse Foil.”  When I saw some of the negative space left on the extra foil I peeled off I loved the way the design looked and decided I wanted to try to put it back through the machine.  So I printed out a solid black Utah, then cut around the gold left over Utah lettering from the project above and placed it exactly where I wanted it on the Utah.  My thought process was that since the entire Utah was made of toner and the only gold foil left on the sheet was the wording I wanted to apply, it should work perfectly.  It did… kind of… not really.  What happened was that when it went through the machine the toner lifted off the coated paper and stuck to the transfer paper except for the circle cut around the wording.  The wording did stick well, but with the ink that pulled off, the mess left on my folder and the awkward circle that was covered by the foil paper, it definitely was not the look I was going for.  Note:  If you do end up with toner on your folder, put another clean sheet of coated paper in the folder and run it back through the Minc.  At least some of it will come off of the folder and transfer back on to the face of the extra paper.

Now that you know how to use it, go here to my friend By Dawn Nicole, to grab a free hand lettered print to make with your Minc!

Free Gold Foil Print Design for Heidi Swapp Minc

Hopefully these tips give you a great starting point for your Minc.  I really have loved playing with the foil applicator, and found it to be one of the easiest and most straight forward crafting machines I have used.  Please let me know what you learned or what questions you still have in the comments below. It makes my day to hear from readers!

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