Vale: The Embellisher’s John Rushgrove

The Embellisher director John Rushgrove has passed on in his mid-60s after a two-year battle with cancer, leaving behind a legacy in foiling and embellishing.

Rushgrove was known in the industry as one of the best foilers in Melbourne, with many in the industry calling him the Leonardo da Vinci of foiling for his talents.

Born in 1953, he started his career in the printing industry at 15 years of age when he started his apprenticeship in letterpress printing at Regency Greeting Cards. He spent seven years with the business.

After being out of the industry for a few years, he returned to printing. He worked for a couple of companies including Hallmark Cards and Avon Graphics, before establishing his own business with his wife, Lee Rushgrove.

They first set up Foilmasters in 1989 in their garage before growing it into a business and selling it to Colorpak in 1999. They went on to establish Redback Finishing, which was taken over by Avon Graphics in 2008, but closed soon after.

They set up Superior Foil Printing in the Melbourne suburb of Hallam in 2011 along with their partner Andrew Tunstall. In this business, Rushgrove entered work showing techniques using old Heidelberg platens and letterpress machinery in the 2011 awards of the US Foil and Specialty Effects Association (FSEA).

He also chalked up a number of medals in past ceremonies with company Silverhaze Graphics.

Superior Foil Printing was later renamed to Blue Honey Press, which is now known as The Embellisher.

One of the works from his cars project

“His passion was always for foiling and embossing and his ultimate goal was to go as deep as he could with embossing, which he did do. He was recognised for his work like his award-winning cars project, as well as seven passes of foil and emboss, among others,” Lee said.

“Once diagnosed with cancer, he particularly wanted to see his current projects through – Noah’s Ark and The Life of the Embellisher: John Rushgrove’s Story (his autobiography), which offers a glimpse of his life and work.

“His autobiography most recently won the Gold Leaf Award with the FSEA in the US for some of his foiling and embossing work.”

Some of Rushgrove’s work that went into his autobiography









Rushgrove took out two awards in the 22nd annual FSEA Gold Leaf Awards. He won gold in the client promotion category for the best use of foil and embossing with the Macedon Lodge Real Estate Book. He also received a bronze award in the announcement and invitation: creative use of foil and embossing category for his Mazda 2 Invites.

Unfortunately, Rushgrove passed on before he could receive the awards.

With Rushgrove’s passing, Lee has now taken over as director of The Embellisher.

“I will be continuing on with The Embellisher business, as John wanted, along with Matt Moran who is an excellent operator, who loves the challenges foil and embossing presents as John did.  It can’t be the same without John’s incredible passion and his amazing sense of fun that he brought to his work and relationships,” Lee said.

“John is so very missed by me and our son, Mace, whom John was so proud of, his daughter-in-law Jen, and our three wonderful granddaughters.”

Kosdown director Derek Downie, who has worked with Rushgrove, said the latter pushed the boundaries in what was achievable with foiling and embossing.

The immaculate details in Rushgrove’s work

“Embossing is usually done in 3mm in depth; John was doing embossing in 10 mm depths. He would create work purely out of foil and his work was amazing and very detailed. The quality of what he was producing acknowledges the craftsman that he was,” Downie said.

“He decided to work on his book not long after he was diagnosed with cancer and when I heard of it, I helped him produce it as I could see that it was very important for him to get that book completed.

“He then entered it into the FSEA awards, which saw him win gold in one of the categories. He would have been really proud of this achievement and should be recognised as the master of the trade that he was in. He’s irreplaceable in skills and his passing is a great loss for our industry.”


Comment below to have your say on this story.

If you have a news story or tip-off, get in touch at  

Sign up to the Sprinter newsletter

3 thoughts on “Vale: The Embellisher’s John Rushgrove

  1. Very sad to say goodbye to a true craftsman of the printing industry. John’s enthusiasm and love of the craft of printing will be missed, but his expert knowledge that he shared with us at Sovereign Press will continue on.

  2. Sad to Hear, I have one of Johns works, it is of a Black FX Holden done with the foil grill and all the trim. We lived in Cranbourne but now live in Queensland and I have in on the wall in my study, love it.

Leave a comment:

Your email address will not be published. All fields are required


Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.