Polymer Clay Tutorial | Jones Tones Foil and Mona Lisa Gold Leaf

Polymer Clay Gold Leaf

Understanding The Differences Between Metal Foils and Metal Leafs:

Would you like to add the sparkle of metal leaf or metal foil to your polymer clay beads… but are not sure of how to use these unique products? Well this article will help to point you in the right direction.

Metal Leaf:

Metal leaf is a product made with real metals rolled into very thin sheets, about the thickness of tissue paper. Traditionally, metal leaf was made from actual gold and applied with adhesive to ornate frames in a process called gilding.

Pure gold or silver leaf is cost prohibitive for most crafting or polymer clay projects. However there are a few companies manufacturing imitation metal leaf that looks very much like the real thing, and at a reasonable cost.

These companies use metal alloys that simulate the more precious metals. For example aluminum is used instead of silver to bring the price down considerably!

The imitation metal leafs I have used, come from a company called Mona Lisa Products. When I bought the variegated red gold leaf it was in a kit with some adhesive, antiquing solution and sealer, for about $20. The kit included 6 sheets of metal leaf.

Doing a quick search on Amazon, I found the Variegated Gold Leaf – Red 6 leaves (5.5″ x 5.5″) per pack with out the extra stuff for $5.99 which is a better deal, since you don’t need the adhesive and sealer supplies for your polymer clay projects.

Metal Foil:

Metal foils such as Jones Tones Foils are a completely different product. They are plastic based rather than metal based. The shiny foil is attached to a clear plastic backing sheet which gets removed after burnishing the foil onto your polymer clay.

It is normally used with an adhesive when used in other crafts. But with polymer clay, the adhesive is unnecessary. It does however, need to be rubbed or burnished onto the clay in order to stick. Metal foils are cheaper than the metal leaf, and they come in a number of varieties such as: Variegated; Rainbow; Holographic; Glitter; and Solid Metal Tones.

A Jones Tones Foils 4 Color Set in 6″ x 12″ sheets, sells for $5.59 at Amazon. This is approximately half the price of the metal leaf product, based on the amount of metal foil you get in the package.

Crackle Effects:

After adding metal leaf OR metal foil to a conditioned sheet of polymer clay, you can create a crackled effect by rolling the polymer clay sheet even thinner. The crackling lets some of the background clay color show through for a very cool look.

Metal leaf, since it is less flexible than the foil, will crackle with larger patterns. Whereas the metal foil cracks are much finer. Both look great, depending on the look you want.

I have created a couple of tutorial videos on the differences between metal leaf and metal foil products… and how to use them to make beautiful polymer clay beads. Check out Volume-004 at the Polymer Clay Tutor Members Library. The specific titles in the Volume-004 order form are referenced as:

Included with thess Metal Leaf and Metal Foil tutorials are 3 other related videos plus 5 custom color recipe cards:

  • Vid-004-1 Differences Between Metal Leaf and Foils
  • Vid-004-2 How To Apply Metal Leaf and Metal Foils
  • Vid-004-3 Intro To The Dremel Tool For Polymer Clay
  • Vid-004-4 Using a Dremel Tool For Buffing Fimo Beads
  • Vid-004-5 Plastic Embroidery Boxes For Storing Canes
  • Recipe-004-1A Mosaic Tile
  • Recipe-004-2A Coral
  • Recipe-004-3A Olive Green
  • Recipe-004-4A Deep Bordeaux
  • Recipe-004-5A Translucent Copper

If you would like to first see preview clips of the Vid-004-1 and Vid-004-2 Metal Leaf and Metal Foil tutorial videos, you can do follow these links:

Thank you Cindy for the lesson of foil on clay. Very interesting. Can’t wait to try it. ~Pat

Thanks for all the good information- I’ve had trouble trying to get jones foils to adhere- will now give it another “shot”. Keep up the good work. ~JJ

Cindy, Thanks for the tutorials. I have only used the leaf so the other foils was good to know. ~Linda

Oh wow how cool! This was a really neat video! I for one prefer the look of the metal leaf to the Jones Tones so this was a good money saving point for me! :) ~Keri Lee

Dear Cindy: I have found all your videos to be very helpful. Your presentations are clear and you are pleasing to listen to. Thanks for helping us out with sharing your knowledge. Keep up the good work! Bless you! ~Zoe

Cindy Lietz SignaturePolymer Clay Tutor

  1. Cindy Lietz, 12 December, 2008

    When metal leafs and foils are on the surface of the clay, it is a good idea to protect them from getting tarnished and from rubbing off, by using a sealant such as Future Floor Finish or Varathane. I would not recommend using the sealers that come with the metal leaf kits since they may react poorly with the clay.

  2. Cheryl Hodges, 25 February, 2009

    hi cindy

    i checked Amazon. Are the 4 color iridiscent and 4 color rainbow the rub on foils you use with the clay?

  3. Cindy Lietz, 25 February, 2009

    Yes Cheryl, if they are the ones made by Jones Tones then they are the kind you need to rub onto the clay. They are quite pretty aren’t they?

  4. Zuisia, 04 May, 2009

    Cindy, This question is regarding JonesTones Foils.I’ve finally managed to get the color onto my clay perfectly, but every time I bake the beads the color washes out to just silver. I lose all the pretty colors. I’ve tried lowering the temp and also lowering time baked, yet still lose all the pretty colors. What am I doing wrong? Thanks for your help.

  5. Cindy Lietz, 05 May, 2009

    Which color of Jones Tones did you use Zuisia? I have had the color shift a bit from green to turquoise for example but I haven’t had it disappear. Could it be one of the holographic ones? I am wondering if you covered it with a layer of Translucent Liquid Sculpey (TLS) 0r one of the other liquid clays if it would do the same thing?

    Has anyone else had this problem with Jones Tones Foils?

  6. Zuisia, 06 May, 2009

    Yes, it was one of the holographic ones. I didn’t have color shift changes, it all turned silver…no colors at all. I will try the TLS next time. Hopefully that might help.

    Has anyone else had this problem?

  7. Cindy Lietz, 06 May, 2009

    I was just wondering because I hadn’t tried the holographic ones yet and thought maybe that iridescent color may not be heat stable. I don’t know though… just guessing.

    Hopefully someone else will let us know. Do let me know if you find something that works.

  8. Cheryl, 24 July, 2009

    Found a site dharmatrading.com that has really good prices on the Jones tones foil. Do I have to get the glue too? Are there different types of foil? I don’t want to buy the wrong one.

  9. maxine, 07 October, 2009

    I am trying to find information and supplies in order to apply the metallic foil to plastic shapes (pins) is this what you are selling. I do not want to work with polmer clay.

  10. Cindy Lietz, 16 October, 2009

    @Cheryl: Sorry I missed your comment. No you don’t need glue if you use the foil on raw clay. The Jones Tones is a good brand to use, so buy that one.

    @Maxine: If you follow the link called ‘Jones Tones Foils’ in the article above under the heading of metal foils you can find where to buy the foils and adhesive you need.

  11. Cindy Lietz, 17 May, 2010

    NEW PHOTOS ADDED… that relate to the theme of this page… Gold Foils and Gold Leafs. Click on the link by my name for the full “Spotlight Story” featuring Marsha-G.

    Polymer Clay Mirror Project by Marsha Gustafson

  12. Maria, 26 August, 2010

    On PCD today, I saw a reference to using Jones Tones foils to wrap canes with. Has anyone in our group ever done this and what would the benefit be to using them over glad wrap?

  13. Phaedrakat, 28 August, 2010

    @Maria: Hi Maria, Jones Tones Foils are metallic-looking, and they give effects similar to gold & silver leaf. The difference is that leaf is real metal and comes in a thin, loose sheet — the foils are more like plastic, and they’re attached to a backing sheet. You rub them onto the clay and then remove the backing. The article above has more info about them, as do Cindy’s videos.

    I haven’t heard of wrapping a cane in these foils. If warmed, the foil part would come off on the outside of the cane, giving slices a thin metallic outline. But that would be the only benefit, as far as I can see. Maybe they meant using the left-over plastic backing…what’s left after burnishing the foils. It’s kind of rigid, and would need to be taped down or something to say in place. It would keep canes clean & keep them from sticking together — actually, the foil would too. Maybe it’s a ‘green’ thing so as not to waste materials. OK, I have no idea, LOL! I subscribe to PCD, too — I wonder why I didn’t see that article? I’ll have to investigate. Sorry, Maria. I wasn’t much help, so I promise not to comment on this further unless I have proper information! ;D ~Kat

  14. Linda K., 28 August, 2010

    @ Maria and Phaedraket, I saw that on PCD, too. I wish she had given more info. Maybe you’re not allowed to know the whole story until you take a class with whomever the article was about.

  15. Maria, 28 August, 2010

    Yes, a secret cane-maker’s society…

  16. Cindy Lietz, 29 August, 2010

    Maria and Others: I think Phaedrakat was on the right track when she talked about giving the cane a nice shiny outside layer. From what I can tell, most of her canes are flower petal canes which she slices and forms into flowers. The Jone Tones Foil just gives the outside of the petals some color and sparkle. (Excellent idea btw!) Because of the foil on the outside of the canes, the canes won’t stick together when they are stacked up or laying in a pile. I am guessing that it is just the side benefit and not the reason for the foil in the first place.

  17. carolyn, 31 August, 2010

    @Cindy Lietz: Who is it that wraps the flower petal canes with foil?

  18. Maria, 29 August, 2010

    Interesting theories – thanks folks! I’m going to try it…

  19. Phaedrakat, 30 August, 2010

    @Maria: Oooh, yeah! Let us know how it comes out. A pretty, sparkley-edged flower might make it ‘worth it’! Can’t wait to hear…unless you get inducted into that secret society & you’re forbidden to speak of it, of course… ;D

  20. Linda K., 30 August, 2010

    Yes, Cindy, I’m sure you’re right. The way the PCD quickie article was written was kind of misleading.

  21. Linda K., 01 September, 2010

    Carolyn, it was in the August 26 blog on polymerclaydaily. The artist is Kim Korringa. I just love her color combinations.

  22. carolyn, 01 September, 2010

    Thanks, Linda! I remembered reading about it but just couldn’t remember where. Is she also the one who makes the fish?

  23. Linda K., 02 September, 2010

    Yes, Carolyn, she does make the fish.

  24. Barb, 14 December, 2010

    I have what might be a fairly newbie question, but I can’t find Future anywhere, so I bought Pledge. Normally I’d figure this out for my self, but I need to make some Xmas presents, does anyone know if Pledge floor wax works as well?

  25. Maria, 14 December, 2010

    You have the right stuff, Barb. It’s now called Pledge with Future shine. Enjoy making your presents. Polymer really is a magical substance!

  26. Constance, 22 February, 2011

    I bought a variety pak of Jones Tones foils, and used the gold with great success, but cannot get the iridescent silver to transfer. I’ve tried it both with and without glue, to no avail. Do you have any hints for me?

  27. Silverleaf, 23 February, 2011

    @Constance: I’m afraid I can’t help with that particular brand as I’ve never used it, but I’ve found that some foils just refuse to transfer well and I’ve never been able to work out why. I got a pack of neutral colours and the cream transfers fine while the black and brown don’t (they just leave tiny little “scratch marks” of foil on the clay no matter how long I burnish). Very irritating! I also got a pack of gold where only some sheets worked.

    All I can suggest is to use a piece of cloth or tissue to burnish the foil to cut down drag from the oils on your skin, and maybe try warming the clay gently with a hairdryer on low or a heat gun (being careful not to heat enough to cure the clay – just warm).

    Hope someone else can help more than me!

  28. Constance, 23 February, 2011

    @Silverleaf: Thank you.

  29. Diane F, 11 May, 2016

    I am trying to transfer my foil to polymer clay and this time it doesn’t seem to be working. I have rubbed until I worked up a sweat and only the tiniest flakes transferred. I made sure the clay was clean (passed a wet wipe and then dried it) before starting.
    Can you tell me what the problem may be?

    Thanks a lot.

  30. Krithika P, 11 May, 2016

    Hi Diane,

    I thought I’d jump in here since I had a similar experience with some foils. I bought some Jones Tones foils a while back in different colors and none of them would stick to the clay. I burnished a lot as well. I also used a heat gun to heat the surface of the clay a little, but didn’t help.
    I found a pack of all silver and all gold Lisa Pavelka foils and had a similar bad experience with that. However I’ve not had problems with the Lisa Pavelka variety pack that are commonly available in craft stores.
    So my conclusion is that the Jones Tones foils available have a some bad batches going around and the Lisa Pavelka ones are better. So it’s not you, it’s the foil!

  31. Cindy Lietz, 11 May, 2016

    Yeah, some of the foils seem to be hit or miss these days. Some seem to release quite easily and some don’t and like Krithika has mentioned it doesn’t seem to be that consistent between brands either. It may help if your clay is stickier. Try adding a little baby oil or clay softener to the clay beforehand and see if that will help. If you don’t need the foil to be on the raw clay, then you can add it to already baked clay, by using an adhesive that stays tacky when dry. Sticky embossing powder works to I hear. I should revisit this technique with some of the new foils on the market and see what I can figure out. Don’t worry… it’s not you… it’s the foil!

  32. Tina M, 24 July, 2016

    I am another who has a lot of difficulty with the foils, wa wondering if it’s just because I have cold hands. I was wondering if you’d tried Weldbond or another water based leafing/foil size with the foils?

  33. Cindy Lietz, 25 July, 2016

    Hi Tina, foils are definitely something that is kind of hit and miss as far as ease of use. I need to test some of the leafing/foil sizes out there to see if they are compatible with polymer clay. It would make it easier if there were more options for using the stuff… easily. It sure is pretty!

  34. Diane Falvey, 13 May, 2016

    Just wanted to thank both Cindy and Krithika for helping me. Since we last spoke I tried another color and it seemed to work . Must be that roll of foil that doesn’t want to stick.

    I apologize for not placing this thank you before but as Doug kindly pointed out I was posting in the wrong place. Sorry. Let’s see if I can learn from my mistakes.

  35. Doug Lietz, 13 May, 2016

    No worries Diane… all’s well that ends well.

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