Thursday, July 1, 2010

Metal Tooling: Large Chipboard H for Hannah!

I made a large "R" for Rebekah a few months ago, and I really love how it turned out. I thought I would make an "H" for Hannah's birthday! It starts by picking out five to seven words that describe a person or their activities. Once you have the list of words, it is all downhill from there!


Start by tracing the outline of the chipboard letter on a piece of paper. Then draw some bands across, with a line to mark the top and bottom of the band. I like to use curved bands. Then lightly letter a word into each band and see how they fit - you may have to erase and try again. Once you have the word layout, trace around the chipboard letter again, this time on your piece of metal. VERY LIGHTLY on the front, make marks where the bands and letters will go; make the marks as light as possible. Then turn the metal over, and on a padded surface and a ball tip, make raised lines and letters. From the front, on a glass or acrylic mat, refine the area around each letter with a teflon calf's foot tool.


Between each word band, fill in by placing metal over a pattern mold. First use a jumbo blending stump to rub the pattern into the metal, then a rounded teflon tip, finally with a fine point teflon tip.

A design like this could be pretty chaotic. There are a couple of design primciples at work that make it a very harmonious layout instead!
  1. First, there are repeating elements. The same small scale pattern is used on all four ends. Where patterns do not have an exact match, they have a match that is the same scale and character.
  2. Second, the design is well balanced. The two largest motifs, the stylized floral medallion on the left side and the stylized fleur dis lis on the upper right are diagonally opposite. The small square grid pattern is on both legs of the "H" and the same pattern is used "on point" to create diamonds, also used on both legs. A Moorish tile design on the right is balanced by a Moorish-feeling pattern on the left, so the whole cross bar is covered with similar scale and similar character patterns. The smallest motif, the grid that can be used square or on point was used on and near the ends, including being used as background on the large fleur dis lis
When the design was completely tooled, I covered the surface of the chipboard letter with Scor-Tape. I turned the metal, front side down onto a padded surface, and centered the adhesive covered chipboard letter and pressed it down firmly to the metal. A Tim Holts scissors was used to trim the metal to the edge of the chipboard, then a patterned wheel was run around the edges of the metal to give it a finished look.


Then comes the magic! My shiny tooled aluminum looks like shiny tooled aluminum. Not quite the look I was going for! I dabbed a make-up sponge into black acrylic paint and sponged the chipboard edges and the metal. Paint was sponged on the entire surface, then brushed off the high points with a clean spot on the sponge. Voila - instant pewter! The difference is amazing and it only takes a moment!

I hope you will try making a letter like this! It is fun, quick and easy and is so personal and fun! Leave me a comment, I'd love to hear what you think!

Paper: The Paper Studios - large chipboard letter; Maid O' Metal - aluminum tooling foil
Tools: Ten Seconds Studio - teflon metal tools, molds, pattern wheel, mats, paper blending stump
Miscellaneous: Black acrylic paint, Scor-Tape, Tim Holtz scissors


  1. Wow! this is wonderful Lynne! How creative and what a work of art!

  2. Wonderful metal work and great detail, I love it. Have a lovely evening, Tracy Evans x x

  3. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this!! when are you coming to La to teach me all your great techniques??
    Cheryl Ruest

  4. Lynne,
    Your word choices for Hannah are very appropriate. You could have selected 50 more since she is such a wonderful free - spirit. Dad

  5. OHMYGOODNESS - speaking of mad . . . ok maybe in a previous post - but I viewed some of the videos from Ten Seconds . . . wwwwhhhoooo hhhoooo those 2 are a HOOT!!!! but how great are those how to's - I really appreciate that!!
    Cheryl (again) :-)

  6. Way cool and you've taken metal to a whole new level!


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