Embossing Metal Tips from Judy Coates Perez

It's fun and easy to make your own unique designs by embossing metal. All you need are some simple instructions and the right tools.

Judy's painted bird is framed with hand stitching
and metal frame with decorative embossing.

Mixed-media and fiber artist Judy Coates Perez has taught workshops in how to emboss metal and use embossed metal in mixed-media designs combined with stitching, paint, and ink.

She has the following tips for metal embossing and stitching craft metal:

Make patterns. It's easy to transfer a pattern onto the metal. Just put your drawing or printed image on top of the metal and trace over it lightly with a pencil or stylus. Lift the corner of the paper to be sure you have transferred all the lines before removing the paper.

Draw freehand designs. Use a stylus and other tools to make designs in the metal. Echoing the cut edge of the metal is an easy way to enhance a design, says Judy.  Draw concentric lines, impress with dots, etc.

Make an impression. Use any firm, raised pattern to transfer a design onto the metal. You can use found objects or choose professional tools like The Creative Metal Kit, which includes embossing tools to roll over the surface or stamp to make an impression on soft metal.

Cut it. You can easily cut metal with craft scissors (don't use fabric scissors, you'll ruin them) or a craft knife. Use decorative craft scissors to cut shapes with a fancy edge, such as a scallop.

metal embossing materials
To emboss metal, Judy traces her drawn pattern
onto the metal with a stylus cushioned by a piece
of foam. (Photo by Judy Perez)

Stitch by machine. Go slowly. Ease the needle into the metal by turning the sewing machine wheel by hand, then gradually acceleratebut go at a slow pace. The metal Judy uses most often is 40-gauge aluminum, because it is thin, pliable, and easy to stitch and emboss. Any sewing machine can sew aluminum. She also stitches copper, but it's a harder metal and some machines will not stitch through it comfortably.

Tip:  It is best to stitch metal before embossing, because the presser foot may flatten the embossed design while stitching.

Stitch by hand. If you're not comfortable using your sewing machine to stitch metal, try hand stitching. First, place the metal on a piece of corrugated cardboard and punch holes by pushing a thumbtack or other sharp, pointed tool through the metal. Then stitch though the holes with a needle and embroidery floss or another decorative thread.

Add color. Enhance your design by painting the metal with alcohol inks. Or, paint a design on fabric using fabric paints or Tsukineko inks and frame your design with the embossed metal.

Judy details more of the ins and outs of stitching embossed metal on the interactive eMag In Stitches, Vol. 3. On video, Judy describes the pros and cons of different kinds of metals and there is a slideshow gallery of how to incorporate embossing metal into your mixed-media artwork.

P.S. Have you created art using craft metal or by embossing metal? Share your tips on how to work with metal in mixed media below.


Blog, Mixed-Media Techniques


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