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Our kids really enjoyed the Copper Foil "Tooling" or "Embossing" that we did last Easter.

coopercrossThe lesson taught the students about different types of crosses. I made large examples out of cardboard, and then spray painted them and hung them from the ceiling. The crosses that the kids took home were made using "cooper" colored "tin foil" sheets (available in art supply stores and online at places like DickBlick.)

We had nine different crosses: Tao, Jerusalem, Celtic, Anchor, Maltese, etc. (Finding the crosses and their shapes/meanings is easy to do with Google).

  1. The students were directed by the teacher to draw each cross as it was discussed on a piece of paper.
  2. They were then instructed on how to work with copper metal sheets (purchased from Dick Blick).
  3. They then choose a cross that they wanted to "tool" (press into the metal).
  4. We gave them pre-cut pieces of cardboard, and they wrapped the metal around the cardboard to form a square and to keep the edges of the foil from scraping hands. (Tip: add some tape to the back to cover exposed edges.)  The cardboard acted as our soft backing into which to press the metal. You could also forgo the cardboard backing so that the kids could work both sides of the metal.
  5. By working on the back of the copper and on the front, they were able to make the image both raised and recessed. Soft pencils and wooden craft sticks were good tools.
  6. After creating the "embossing" of the cross, we gently rubbed them with steel wool to make the raised images reflect the light differently.
  7. Add additional designs or words around the raised cross by pressing into the metal.
  8. They finished the pieces by using colored sharpies to enhance the piece. We then helped them place a taped loop of wire on the back, so that they could be hung.

    I know that this has been one of the most favorite art projects, and it was a good way to talk about the cross, and how universal and important the cross is.

    There are lots of variations on metal tooling/embossing which you can show the kids or they will discover. 


Tips on working with tin-sheets

1. Edges can be sharp, prepare squares ahead of time and fold over and hammer/press the edges.

2. Have newspaper and pieces of felt to lay under the metal sheets so that they "give" when pressed.

3. You can place an object UNDER the sheet and use a tool to push the foil down around its edges. Or you can trace the object onto the back side of the sheet and press into the metal around the object to create a raised "relief" on the copper side. 

4. Use a stiff sanding block to lightly sand away the copper color on the RAISED portions of the metal sheet., or use a piece of sandpaper to while braise any area for effect. (Experiment with different techniques)

5. Use a hole punch to add a yarn hanger.

6. Use silver tin sheets then color like stained glass using permanent markers.

cooper1metal1tooling

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Last edited by Neil MacQueen

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