Saturday, January 25, 2020

Metal Tooling Easy & Safe Enough For FIRSTIES!

Metal tooling is usually one of those projects saved for your older students, right? I mean, sharp edges, scary tools, what was I thinking giving it to littles? Well, I figured out a way to make it super easy and super safe for any age student to be successful and have fun with metal tooling, just in time for Valentine's Day!

Start with 36 gauge metal foil. I buy mine in rolls from Dick Blick, but it's available on Amazon, too. Pre-cut your foil with regular scissors, or even your guillotine cutter, into 4" x 6" or 5" x 7" pieces, whichever you prefer, and use a metal ruler to fold back just one edge 1/4 inch.
Prepare enough of these for your whole class. Next, cut craft foam just a bit larger (5" x 7" or 6" x 8"), one per student. If you have foam shape stickers, you're golden! I didn't, so I let my kiddos choose from plain foam shapes and use glue sticks to glue them in place on the craft foam sheets to create their designs.
Next, we used masking tape to secure the metal foil to the craft foam, centered over the design. Notice, we taped only the three sharp sides of the foil. Using metal spoons, we began to gently rub over the foil to "find" our designs. After rubbing with the back of the spoon side, we used the back of the handle side of the spoon to define the design. Although this pretty well defined the designs, I went ahead and introduced plastic paper folding tools to further get into the spaces between the foam pieces. Finally, I removed the foil for each student and folded the tape back over those sharp metal edges. We flipped over the craft foam to the "blank" side, just to have a soft surface, and flipped over our foil to talk about chasing, as a part of the tooling process. The kids caught on right away, using the spoon handles first, then going back to the paper folders for details.

Finally, I folded those last three sharp edges to the back, and we called it good. With older students, you can take these further in a couple of different ways...definitely, you can go the easy route and color the foil with Sharpies. I've found that the super fat ones work best. They don't seem to leave those scratchy-looking marks, as your students go over large areas (actually scratching the color off from the first time the marker touches the foil). Even more interestingly, you can use melted crayons (I keep mini loaf pans of melted and cooled crayons ready for my electric frying pans) and old paint brushes, devoted solely to the wax, to fill in depressed areas with color. Once the wax is cool, it stays in place and looks really neat! If you're interested in more with hot wax, stay tuned for my hot wax paintings and print-making lesson. It's a true favorite!

As a bonus for the little kiddos, we can now use our craft foam to do monoprints!