Ginger Singh-Kauldhar

Case Study | A Prestigious Collaboration: The Scarab Centenary Print


At Tomlinson’s die-makers, we’re no strangers to producing high quality foiling and embossing dies for some ambitious, unusual and prestigious projects. Nevertheless, a project comes along which is particularly exciting.

Early in 2022, Tomlinson was invited to collaborate with London’s leading luxury printer and bookbinder, Barnard & Westwood, together with artist and fashion designer, Gary James McQueen, and expert foil supplier, Foilco Ltd, in the creation of a distinguished foiled and embossed print featuring McQueen’s stunning scarab beetle-inspired brooch; a unique, high-end item of jewellery from his elite collection. The print, to mark Barnard & Westwood’s centenary, presented Tomlinson’s with an ideal opportunity to showcase all that’s possible to achieve using our bespoke foiling and embossing dies.

On sight of the remarkable solid nine carat rose gold brooch with its delicate mother-of-pearl underwings and impressive ruby centrepiece, it was clear that careful thought and planning would be needed to ascertain how to capture and accurately recreate on paper the extraordinary scarab beetle design’s beautiful details through foiling and embossing.

Here’s an overview of how we did it.

Scarab Artcam


Before a single die could be produced by our experienced production team here at Tomlinson’s, we met with Barnard & Westwood to discuss the project in detail and to find out answers to some basic but important questions, including:

Q: What paper stock would our dies be used on?

A: GF Smith 350gsm Colorplan Ebony with a smooth emboss.

Having information on the paper stock enabled us to determine the embossing die’s ideal depth; too shallow could mean that the embossed image may not be adequately sharp and defined; too deep and the stock could burst on press. In the case of the scarab beetle design, the weight of stock allowed us to produce an embossing die with sufficient depth for the emboss to impressively stand out.

Q: What machinery would our dies be used on?

A: Heidelberg Platen

This information enables us to establish the thickness (gauge) of the metal in which to manufacture the dies. Tomlinson’s produce dies in a range of metals and gauges and can cater to all requirements. In this instance dies were made in 1/4 inch or 6.35mm metal.


Q: How many foil colours are there in the scarab design?

A: There are three foil colours: a glittering red foil for the ruby centrepiece; an iridescent foil to replicate the beetle’s shimmering wings; and a flat, metallic gold foil for the beetle’s body and the rays of the sun.

Q: What is the predicted press run?

Knowing the expected length of a press run helps us to determine the type of metal in which to make the dies. For example, magnesium is a softer metal suitable for shorter press runs, whereas brass is a much harder metal and is therefore recommended for use on longer press runs.


Which die created which finish?

To enable Barnard & Westwood to produce the stunning finished scarab print, Tomlinson manufactured four sets of dies each requiring a separate machine pass:

  • A flat foiling die to apply metallic copper foil to the body of the beetle and the rays of the sun.
  • A sculptured fluted foiling die and counterforce with faceted jewel-like detail to both foil and emboss the ruby centrepiece in a single machine pass using a glittering red foil.
  • A micro-etched textured flat foiling die incorporating the fine detail of the beetle’s delicate underwings to apply an iridescent white foil to those areas.

A multi-level embossing die and counterforce

featuring rounded curves at various levels to raise the body of the beetle in a lifelike way.


The finishing process.


In order to create the superb finished print, Barnard & Westwood first applied the copper foil of the scarab beetle’s body and the rays of the sun using a flat foiling die. A second machine pass applied iridescent white foil to accent the beetle’s finely ridged wings using a textured foiling die. The third pass applied sparkling red foil to the ruby centrepiece using one of our faceted ‘combination’ or ‘fluted’ dies to foil and emboss this feature simultaneously. The fourth and final pass created the raised detail of the beetle’s body using a multi-level embossing die registering precisely with the existing foiled image.


The end result of the Scarab Centenary project is a luxurious, striking and eye-catching print which demonstrates just what’s possible to achieve using Tomlinson’s deftly manufactured dies in conjunction with an expert print finisher such as Barnard & Westwood.

While we have studied a particularly complex and ambitious design here, Tomlinson Ltd manufacture a broad spectrum of dies for all kinds of projects ranging from greeting cards and stationery to luxury packaging and labels. Our friendly and experienced team are here to answer all your questions so please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

© Tomlinson Ltd 2022