Metal Tooling with Phillip Martin
Lesson Plan
Learner Outcomes: .................................................... ....................................................
Form: Appreciate that art encompasses a variety of 3-D forms using various media
Line: Appreciate line is used to represent the world around us
Space: Appreciate that positive and negative space is used to enhance aesthetics
Texture: Appreciate that texture is used to enhance realism
Appreciate that texture is used to enhance aesthetics
Materials: 25 pencils
25 sheets of aluminum tooling foil about 8" x 12"
  25 sheets of plywood 6" x 8"
  25 popsicle sticks, ink pens, India ink pens and other tools
  crock pot (or melting pot on warming plate)
  masking tape
Vocabulary: Line, Positive and Negative Space, Texture

Gentle Warning: The final result of this project is not always what students wish it would be, but they generally enjoy this process anyway. With all projects, I think it is important that the teacher first make the project. You learn SOOOOO much about the project when you actually create it yourself. With Metal Tooling, you just ABSOLUTELY MUST make the project so you can help explain it to your students.

Photocopy or print out an object for this project. It should not be too simple or too complicated. (Human faces are especially a challenge.) The object should fit into a 6" x 8" space with a bit of a border space around it.

Tape the photocopy to the foil, place the foil on a magazine or other soft surface, and trace the photocopy with a ballpoint pen. (When finished, save the photocopy for reference while tooling.) Turn the foil to the backside and "score" the foil by tracing along the inside edge of the indentation made from tracing on the other side.

The metal tooling is given three dimensions by pressing the object up from the back and pressing the background down from the front. Students may use whatever object helps them to do this. Popsicle sticks are especially useful but so are the reverse ends of ballpoint pens, compass points, reverse ends of India ink pens and a whole lot of other items in the art room.

Different areas of the metal tooling need to stand out more than other parts of the project. Begin with areas that do not need to be pressed out as far (usually background items.) Push the object out from the back, and the background down from the front, until the desired depth is attained. Use the flat surface of the Popsicle stick repeatedly to smooth out the surface of the metal getting a crisp edge between the object and the background. Then, continue pressing out areas that should stick out even deeper.

When finished with the tooling process, use the Popsicle stick to make the background surface as smooth as possible. During the process, students may accidentally tear the surface of the foil. It happens -- just have the students carefully try to close the tear as much as possible. When the metal tooling is completed, hold the art up to the light to locate the tears. Apply masking tape on the front of the metal to cover any holes.

Melted Wax: Melt wax or wax pellets on the heating plate. First try to cover over the tears with spoonfills of melted wax. Let the wax cool before continuing. Then, place the metal tooling on the wooden background with the front facing down. Fill in the tooled areas with wax. Take as much care as possible to only put wax in the filled areas and not to spill it on the background surface that should remain flat. Clean up any spilled wax on the back and front of the metal and smooth out the surface one more time.

Center the wooden sheet over the metal tooling from the back. Then, roll the edge of the wood on the table top to help fold the metal along the top and bottom of the art. Fold it down tightly around the back of the wood after checking to be sure the object is centered. Trim the corners of the folded metal slightly above the corners so that when the metal is folded on the next two sides, it won't be too thick. To do this, I cut off a small triangle of metal from each corner.

Fold the metal over the other two sides. Use masking tape to seal the entire metal edge. The corners of the project are sharp so roll them on the floor or table to dull the point. Finally, if the student wishes to have a little bit of a shadowed effect on the project, India ink may be poured onto the surface and then wiped off with newspaper or paper towel.


Copyright 2000, revised 2012 by Phillip Martin All rights reserved.

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