Studio Saturdays: Tin Foil Art

Who knew that your kitchen was a great source for art supplies? Contributors to Cloth Paper Scissors magazine, apparently, because they keep coming up with incredible artwork using materials from everyone’s favorite room in the house. This week’s Studio Saturday project is tin foil art inspired by Lisa Thorpe’s article in the May/June 2017 issue , “Kitchen Drawer Embellishments,” which uses heavy-duty aluminum foil to create the most beautiful dimensional adornments that are easy to make and can be used in so many different ways.

This is a great quick project, and one that can be made in stages, and in multiples—perfect for summer, when you may not want to spend long stretches in your studio or workspace. New color mediums take this technique to new levels, and the satisfaction factor is off the charts. So make sure you try this one, because you’re going to love it.

I started by gathering a bunch of relatively flat stuff with cool shapes. One thing that sets this technique apart is how it gets you to think mainly in terms of shapes as they relate to design. When I’m working on something mixed media I’m thinking about shape, but also color, texture, and pattern. This makes you focus on interesting and compelling shapes, featured alone or with other shapes. I found some dried eucalyptus leaves, some other dried round leaves, a crocheted piece, some punchinella, a few springs of tiny dried flowers, and some yarn. I also grabbed a stencil and used it to cut out an abstract flower shape in textured cardstock (I used a Crafter’s Workshop Stick Flowers stencil in 12″ x 12″.).

Items for tin foil art embossing
Items I chose for the tin foil art pieces included dried leaves and flowers, cut cardstock, and punchinella.

The shapes were glued to cut pieces of thin chipboard with glue stick (you can also use spray glue). I found it easier to apply glue to the chipboard and then arrange the items on top; the glue stick gives you a little bit of time before it sets, so you can move things around if you like to create eye-catching patterns. I did a little experimenting with this batch, so I layered one of the round leaves on top of the punchinella to see what tin foil art that would produce.

Tin foil art pieces glued to chipboard
The items were glued to pieces of thin chipboard; some were layered.

Easy so far, yes? Next, I cut pieces of heavy-duty tin foil to cover the chipboard, with about a ½” extra on all sides. More glue stick was applied to the dull side of the foil, and then the foil was smoothed over the chipboard. I just used my fingers, with one exception: I used an embossing stylus to see if I could define the stencil shape a bit more. It worked great, but you just need a light touch—the foil is very malleable. I love the way the texture from the cardstock is starting to show through.

Using a stylus to define cardstock for tin foil art
A stylus was used to get sharp edges on the cardstock shape.

Here are all the pieces with foil on them. My hunch about layering the leaf over the punchinella was a good one—I love the way this looks so far. I wasn’t sure about the yarn, and I was right about that too—it was too squishy. I should have used thick twine. I’ll try that next time.

Tin foil art pieces covered in foil
Pressing the tin foil art pieces with your fingers reveals all the texture and dimension.

Color was added next, and I experimented with this a bit too. Lisa recommends using spray paint, alcohol inks, or a permanent ink pad. It was raining the day I did this, so spray paint was no-go. I tried alcohol inks, an ink pad, and also Ranger Vintaj Patinas. The layered leaf piece gave me an opportunity to try two different colors of the patinas. I used a small paintbrush to apply the patinas and the alcohol inks, and just rubbed the pad on the foil. Because I was impatient, I used a heat tool to dry and set the color on all. The chipboard warped a tiny bit while it was being heated, but went back to being flat when cool.

Color added to tin foil art with inks and patinas.
Color was added to the tin foil art with inks and liquid patinas.

Clockwise, from top left in the photo above, here are the color mediums I used: alcohol ink, Vintaj Patina, ink pad, Vintaj Patina (two colors), and alcohol ink. The patinas offered the most opaque coverage, and the alcohol inks were incredibly vibrant and shiny. The ink pad offered a cool mottled look.

All it takes to give these tin foil art pieces a little bit of a distressed look that emphasizes the shapes and textures is some steel wool—I used 0000 super fine. I buffed it gently over all the surfaces, and here’s what I got. I fell in love with these pieces immediately. For some reason most of the ink came off of the piece I colored with an ink pad, so I went back over it with some alcohol ink in a different color, then buffed it again.

Buffed tin foil art pieces
After buffing, the foiled pieces took on even more texture and interest.

After you amass a nice stash of these, what will you make? I used one as a gift topper:

Tin foil art used as a gift topper
The crocheted piece looks great on top of a wrapped gift.

And used another for a focal image on a card:

Tin foil art used on a card
The leaf/punchinella tin foil art piece makes a great focal piece for a card.

You knew a book was going to work its way in here, didn’t you? Of course. Here’s a tiny 2 ½” x 3 ½” book. I covered a piece of chipboard with paper for the back cover, and used a piece of Rebekah Meier Designs for Therm O Web Mixed Media Art Tape for the spine, and I colored it with spray ink. This Art Tape is really fantastic—it’s flexible but sturdy, and you can color or stamp the surface in a million ways. I bound the book with a simple pamphlet stitch.

Tin foil art used as a book cover
One of tin foiled pieces became the cover of a tiny book.

Don’t miss Lisa’s article in the May/June issue of Cloth Paper Scissors—she’s got great information and tips, and you must see her tin foil art pieces incorporated into encaustic collage–you will not believe they were made with foil.

This is a perfect summer Saturday project, so head to the kitchen, grab some tin foil, and have a blast. I’m heading off to make another batch!

While your creative wheels are in full gear, get even more ideas for projects in the North Light Shop!

May/June 2017 Cloth Paper Scissors magazine
Find complete instructions for creating your own tin foil art in the May/June 2017 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine.
Art Lessons Volume 12: Spice Up Your Art by Darlene Olivia McElroy
Rain your spice cabinet and see what alchemy you can create to make art in Art Lessons Volume 12: Spice Up Your Art by Darlene Olivia McElroy.
Rae Missigman's Paint, Stencil, Stitch Kit
Play, experiment, and have fun with this new Rae Missigman’s Paint, Stencil, Stitch Kit that features new videos from Rae, plus her exclusive stamps and stencils!


Blog, Mixed-Media Techniques

2 thoughts on “Studio Saturdays: Tin Foil Art

  1. I’ve done a similar tchnique with tin foil and shoe polish. Instead of gluing objects on chipboard, I draw a design on mixed media paper (simpler is better), squeeze glue over the design, let dry completely then cover with tin foil, use a q-tip like your stylus, and finally cover the whole thing with layers of shoe polish. I’ve also used Sharpies to color the foil.


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