Full art piece of embossed copper foil – photo by Checkthisart.com

With a busy summer and a severe case of writers block, I thought I would do a post on an art project I did myself.  It’s a 36″x12″ embossed piece of copper foil.  It’s really easy to do, pretty inexpensive compared to other art projects and makes for an interesting and original piece to hang on your walls.  So, if you are looking for something to do in a day, give this a shot.

Please note, before you critique the merits of my art talent, I have a few of disclaimers.  First, once upon a time, I considered myself an artist.  I took a ton of art classes in high school and college, and even received an art scholarship.  Those days are now long gone along with rotary phones and Betamax.  Today, my art skills have become pretty darn rusty.  So in other words, cut me some slack.   Secondly, taking a good photo of really shiny metal is difficult, so I don’t think these photos do the piece justice.  And thirdly, well…yada, yada, yada.  Okay, enough already.  On with the project.

So, if you want to create your own piece, here’s what you’ll need:

  • A piece of copper or silver foil found at your local art shop.
  • Tracing paper I found at a fabric store.
  • A large piece of foam core.
  • Embossing tools.  I used a couple different wood sculpting items used for sculpting clay.
  • Something pointed and sharp, like a pen.
  • A hammer
  • Maid-O’-Metal Plastic Luster

Close up of embossed copper salmon – Photo by Checkthisart.com

To prepare the design:

  • Sketch out your design.  This is where I usually get stuck.  Yikes, new ideas. This time I was inspired by my trip to Alaska and all the Native American art I saw.  I created my own interpretation of their animal artwork.  Since the full sheet of metal is an odd size, I had to use several pieces of paper to create the design.  The metal is pretty thin. So, if you like, cut it down to a more manageable size.  Although, I like the full size it comes in.
  • Trace over your designs onto the tracing paper.  Remember, you’ll be working in reverse.
  • Place your tracing paper on the metal and trace your design from the paper.  It doesn’t seem to stick well, but at least you’ll have a guideline to work from.

Close up embossed copper Loon and Salmon – Photo by Checkthisart.com

Now the fun part:

  • Place the foil on the foam core.  You need something soft under the metal, so that when you press on it, it will have some give to the metal.
  • Start by using something sharp to trace an outline each piece.
  • Next, press into the metal with the wooden tools.  I flipped the metal over so some parts were concaved and other convexed.  This took some thought as I went along, especially when it came to the eyes.
  • When I was done, I thought the background needed some texture.  I took a hammer and lightly pounded it.
  • Once you are finished, brush a light layer of the Plastic Luster to keep it from dulling.

That’s it!  Easy to do in a day.  If you should attempt this, send us a photo of the finished piece and we’ll show it off.

My dog in front of the copper art piece

One more note.  Besides the metal being shiny, another factor I have to deal with when taking a photo is my dog.  He always tries to get in every shot.  How can I resist not adding him? He’s such a cutie and a ham.


-See Recycled Magazine Art by Deborah


Note:  Deborah has a new blog for her artwork.  Please check it out.

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10 Responses to Embossed Copper Foil Art Project

  1. Paul Worley says:

    Google pictures of copper patina and see what a huge variety of colors, hues and effects there are – almost daunting to see how much variety is available. I remember my dad using something he called liver of sulfur to stain the whole copper picture once it was all embossed out, then the steel wool was used to softly shine up only the most projected parts of the picture, or all the embossed portions, depending on what he wanted. I hope to get a piece done soon, pretty sure I wont have time to do a patina stain due to the timing (a going away thing for my boss)but the next piece I will definitely try staining. I will post a link to it here when one or both are done if you like. regards, paul

  2. Paul Worley says:

    thanks for posting, I like the way it came out! Alaskan type art is great for this kind of media. My father used to do this kind of art years ago when we lived in AK. He experimented with some staining techniques also, finishing up with a polishing with fine steel wool – leaving even more of a distressed and dark antique look to the background or non embossed areas. He also used to use flat black paint on some backgrounds to really make the embossed shiny areas really visually pop out.

    • Deborah says:

      I love Alaska, it’s so beautiful. You’re lucky to have the opportunity to have lived there. I’ve been planning on another copper project and I will have to play with some of those techniques. I like the idea of the steel wool for the background. I wasn’t happy with hammer look that I used because it made it harder to distinguish the embossed parts, but it didn’t look finished without it. Thanks for the ideas and input.

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