Foil Drawings

I came across this unique idea on a great blog called Make It A Wonderful Life. It was simply too cool not to try out, and the great directions ensured everything worked out well. The end result reminds me of the old tin ceiling tiles which were popular in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, during the Victorian era. While there aren’t so many vintage ones left, there are plenty of modern versions you can view on the internet.



1. Select a piece of cardboard to use as your base. I used foam core and mat board because I happened to have scrap pieces lying around, but any cardboard will do. Avoid using corrugated cardboard, as mentioned on the blog where I found this project, because the lines may show through. Although for some designs, this may add an interesting texture. To be explored…

2. Any subject will work for this project eg. animals, faces, words, abstract designs, etc. Have children make a few sketches to explore their ideas, making sure they keep it simple. Details will be added later on. Using a pencil, make the drawing on the cardboard.

3. Glue can now be added on top of the pencil lines. The purpose of the glue is to create raised sections which will show through the foil when added on top. Aleene’s Tacky Glue was recommended because it doesn’t spread out as much a regular white glue. Again, keep any details to a minimum or it will be difficult to work the foil around them. Allow to dry completely.

4. Once the tacky glue has dried, cut a piece of foil a few inches larger than the cardboard, so you have enough to fold towards the back. Take the glue stick and apply it either to the side of the foil you will be covering the drawing with, or directly on top of the drawing. Press the foil on top and fold all four sides to the back. Using your finger, gently press the foil down so it adheres to the cardboard. It’s very important to do this gently so you don’t break through the foil…like I did!

5. Now use a cotton swab to gently press the foil around the glue lines so the shapes become more visible.

6. Once finished, use a dull pencil (too sharp and it will break through the foil) to add any extra details by pressing gently onto the cardboard. A variety of shapes such as lines, swirls and circles will add wonderful texture to the piece.

7. Finally, cover the entire surface with black shoe polish, and wipe off any excess using an old rag or paper towels. It will settle in the grooves and highlight any details you have added. It will also darken the colour of the foil. I added a link in the materials section to show the type I used because it worked very well. The sponge applicator made it easy to apply.

We were truly impressed with the results and look forward to making more. Thank you to makeitawonderfullife for sharing such a great idea.



Filed under foil

237 responses to “Foil Drawings

  1. Hi! I’m so happy to see you enjoyed our foil art project! (Thank you too, for crediting my blog post!)

  2. Awesome: thanks for sharing this on facebook

  3. This is superb! I like it..

  4. ann

    I am intrigued and now my brain is working overtime coming up with ways to use this technique! I’ve used hot glue to create texture on glass vases then covered it with decoupaged tissue, so it is similar. Love the contrast and texture on your projects!

    • Thank you for your comment! I love your idea of using hot glue on glass. Definitely sounds similar because it creates raised areas which are covered with another material. Can’t wait to try this out!

  5. Found you on Get Outta My Head, Show It Off Link Party 10.
    So doing this craft. Following your blog.

  6. This is such a fun idea, so many possibilities! Thanks for linking up at So Very Creative, I featured this today.

  7. That’s so cool! I really want to try this!

  8. this is so cool! I would love you to add this and any other posts you want to show off to my What We Wore and Made party over at

  9. Glad you like it Marissa, and thanks for the invitation!

  10. This turned out so beautiful. My buddies are too young but I want to make one for ME!

  11. Pinned this! These turned out really beautiful, I can’t wait to try.

  12. This is so cool!! And I have all the supplies on hand. Pinned! I’d love for you to share this at my very first link party.

  13. What a neat idea. This would look cool as ceiling tiles too. Great job!

    • Thanks Jen. I agree, it is a neat idea and I’m glad I came across it.

    • I was trying to figure out how to do this as ceiling tiles also , Ive always wanted to do tiles in my kitchen & there just too expensive.Im not sure how u could put this on ceiling. cool idea though thanks.

      • Anonymous

        Perhaps make photocopies of the original drawing? Then can make multiple of same design, with each slightly unique due to the paint shading. Haven’t tried this yet, but I too thinking of ceiling tile, so in theory this might work

      • Sounds like a good idea. Or just use tracing paper to copy the original drawing and to transfer the image repeatedly.

  14. This is the best idea I have seen in a long time! Maybe because I love art…and feel like I am running out of fun new ideas! Thanks! 🙂

  15. Wow! I wanna do this now! (To bad office work doesn’t allow it.)
    Thanks for sharing!

  16. What a neat idea! It is beautiful! Thank you for sharing it at Sharing Saturday! Have a wonderful week!

  17. ultra fascinating! i feel like doing this NOW!!!!!!! : )

  18. this is awesome! I’ll have to go look at the original bloggers as well… I want to do this but I think my daughter would enjoy doing this with me as well. Looks great!

  19. Featuring you tonight over on my blog. You were one of the top viewed links at last week’s party. Congrats!!! 🙂

    Ginger @

  20. Oh now that is beautiful! I’d love it if you would share this with my readers for Fun Stuff Fridays. Would you please link up?

  21. This is awesome!!! It was the most viewed link last week at Whatever Goes Wednesday at I am featuring it today! Grab my “featured” button.

  22. Thank you so much for linking up to Mommy Solutions last week! Your post was the #1 most clicked item linked up! Congrats and thank you so much for sharing with me and my blog readers.

    Stop over and share something else. This was a great project!


  23. I forgot to tell you that I also gave you a pin on Pinterest and I”m following you, too!

  24. This is AMAZING!!! It was my favorite link up of last week for sure!! (and I can’t wait to make this ourselves!!) I featured this at TGIF this week – – Come stop on by & grab an I was featured button & link up whatever you’ve been working on this week!! Thanks again for linking up & sharing your creativity with all of us!!!
    Beth =-)

  25. Fabulous idea. Stopping by from Sun Scholars.

  26. Wow! Those are super cool.Thank you for sharing!

  27. Thanks for linking up to Serenity Saturday
    Hope to can join us again tomorrow


  28. What a great idea! I hope you don’t mind my pinning this for future reference. 🙂

  29. Wow is that cool. I would love to feature your project on my “best of” kid’s activities for the week. May I have your permission to use one of the photos? Of course I will credit and link back to your posts!

    If you are interested I’d also be happy to add you to a group Pinterest board I organize:

    Would you email me and let me know your thoughts? 🙂 Thanks for your consideration.

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  31. Joanne

    I did not read through all the comments so I apologize if someone already suggested it but if you want to do this without waiting for glue to dry, you can use modeling clay. I’ve done a lesson like this with 6th graders. You model clay into the designs/shapes, lay them on the cardboard, and then cover it with foil. I like the shoe polish; we used ink when we did this. I’ve also had the kids color with permanent marker. Your examples are beautiful.

  32. Carmelle

    Wonderful art idea. Will make for sure!

  33. karla k

    Cute idea. I am seriously wondering if I can do this with a glue gun on my ceiling & spraying the finished work with spray varnish!? Thanks so much for sharing.

  34. SoooooOoo PRETTY!!!! Possibilities are endless!!

    I sure hope you’ll share this on The DIY Dreamer:

  35. Jen

    What a cool idea! I love how simple it is but how professional it looks! Thanks for sharing! I’m featuring these on my site today! I hope you’ll stop by to look!

  36. CJ Sebolt

    AMAZING! Can’t wait to try it with the kids this weekend! 🙂

  37. Pingback: Feature Friday! | | Scissors & Spatulas {and everything in between}Scissors & Spatulas {and everything in between}

    • Jen, just wanted to let you know I tried to leave a message on your blog, but was unable to. Hopefully you’ll see this one. Just wanted to thank you for featuring me, and that I enjoyed your blog!

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  39. This is really cool! When I saw the pictures I thought they were tin ceiling tiles! Definitely have to try this out soon. I wonder if hot glue would be easier to use than Tacky glue? I have trouble with it drying out in the bottle and then it’s so hard to squeeze.

  40. Hi! I stopped by again! About Stacy’s idea of using hot glue- I’ve done it that way, but the raised line was thicker, which led to kids tearing the foil more frequently. So glue gunners, keep that in mind! 😀

  41. Nancy Carr

    I love this idea and have been looking for an idea for a headboard to mount on the wall. I feel this would be a great idea to try.
    I cannot find how to sign up for your blog. Please email me and let me know. I love your idea. Thank you for sharing.

    • Thanks Nancy, and I hope everything works out with your headboard. To follow my blog, simply scroll down to the bottom of the page you are viewing, and there should be a follow button on the right hand side. Just click on that and you’ll receive emails whenever there is a new post 🙂

    • Nancy, I just made it easier to follow my blog. At the top of the side bar, there is a place where you can add your email address to receive notifications when there is a new post. Thanks for signing up!

  42. Pam

    What’s old is new again! Did this art project 35 yrs ago. Nice to see it get new life.

  43. Oh, lovely!
    I made simular but I first crumpled (dont know if it is the right word) and then flatered it out whith a rolling pin. And used black acrylicpaint. I think shoepolish make it more beautiful. Must try soon. And I used hotglue for the raised parts. I am too eager to wait for the glue to get dried.

  44. Sue Mullikin

    I’m wondering if typing/ printing a wise saying with the computer and then gluing over it, may make a new twist on this. Also, kids who have a hard time coming up with their own plan could just glue lines on top of a coloring sheet. Soon they would get the courage to draw on their own. (I have had kids cry when asked to draw.)

    • It’s true that some children feel intimidated by the thought of having to create something. The suggestions you made can at least give them the confidence to try out the technique, which is a lot of fun. Like you said, maybe next time they’ll be adventurous enough to come up with their own design. Thanks for dropping by.

  45. Phyllis Brack

    Love fun and cheap ideas to do with kids

  46. I love this idea! I think we will try it this week!

  47. I loved this idea.I Pinned.
    Love from Türkiye.

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  49. Anonymous

    can’t wait to try this, I bought a 60 yr.old home and have wanted to use tin tiles,but finances prevented me. This should work perfectly,will let you know how it turns out!

  50. Love it. Looking forward to trying it with my kids

  51. artistmum

    Love your blog! Will definitely follow you 🙂

  52. Jane Dodson

    As a former art teacher, I found that the shoe polish would sometimes peel up or not adhere very well. We figured out it was from the oils in your skin when you manipulate the foil with your fingers when pressing down and adding textures. To prevent this we simply wiped the entire surface with alcohol when finished with the texturing process and we never had a problem since. Also, when the polish was dry we used 0000 steel wool to buff off the high areas. Your samples look great!

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  54. vicki ross

    Love this. My brother was going to do his bathroom ceiling in tiles like this but to buy them was too much $. I was going to try the hot glue but I’m sure I’ll get dribbles and strings. Could I use puffy paint or string? He wanted to have copper tiles so I’m going to try spray painting instead of shoe polish. Wish me luck

    • I hope everything turns out well. I’ve only tried this with tacky glue, so I’m not sure how things will turn out with puffy paint or string. My guess is that it would work, but you’re better off testing it out and comparing the results. Good luck!

  55. Shan

    You could use paint instead of shoepolish…i’ve used acrylic (gold) …paint a little on then rub.

  56. Anonymous

    Can’t wait to do this with my granddaughter!

  57. I have to give this a go. Thanks!

  58. Heidi O.

    This is really classy. I def want to do it. Is it best to use regular foil? I thought about using heavy duty but thought some of the detail may be lost.


    • I used regular foil, and you do need to be careful using the cotton swab. I did tear the foil a couple of times, so you do have to press down gently. Why not experiment with heavy duty foil on a small piece of cardboard with glue, to see if it’s a better option. Good luck!

    • Jane Dodson

      Heidi, We always used the heavy duty foil in my art classes at the high school and it worked fine. I think the secret is the wet glue underneath allows the manipulation of the foil to give ever so slightly, however, be careful not to get you glue design to high as it will only “give” so much. The heavier foil seemed to show textures really well. Remember: After you have touched and rubbed the surface and are ready to apply your polish or ink, rub it good with rubbing alcohol to remove any oils from your hand so the polish/ink will adhere good. If a student forgot to do this it peeled up. Goodluck!

  59. Absolutely gorgeous! I was thinking the shoe polish would rub off eventually. Will it? I think this ink made for dyeing medals & foils etc. called alcohol ink by Adirondeck, found in Michaels & Hobby Lobby can be used to create a more permanent color. They come in several different colors. I was thinking of a backslash out of this project. Thanks so much & Pam was right, this has been around for quite a while. I remember doing a project like about 30 yrs ago. Thanks for bringing it back!

    • So glad you liked it! I love your idea of using a permanent ink. My only concern using this as a backsplash is the need to occasionally clean it, because the foil could eventually tear. That would be a little devastating!

    • Jane Dodson

      Brenda, you may be right. Not sure, because this was a project for high school students. If you are making it for something in your house and you used the shoe polish, you could try spraying it with a clear sealer to keep it permanent. Be sure it’s oil based and not acrylic. I think a backsplash would look great!

  60. I did these in art class back in my youth and they were super fun. Yours are WAY more awesome than I remember mine to be. 🙂

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  62. Gabby

    I saw how much everyone loved this and want to try it. I didn’t get a chance to read all of the replies so I hope I’m not repeating what’s already been asked. I don’t have shoe polish but I do have alcohol ink, do you think that would work?

    • I’ve only tried it with shoe polish. All I can suggest is that you make a small sample, and sees how it works. I’d love to know how it turns out. Good luck!

  63. Stacy

    I love this technique. I really want to make one like this, but I’m worried about how durable it is. Did you use some kind of top coat to make it stronger or can you recommend one? I move around a lot and am afraid the paper would get torn.

    If anyone has any advise for me Please contact me at

    • It is delicate because the foil can tear. Some kind of sealer or varnish will definitely strengthen it, although I haven’t actually tried that. You might just have to pack it very carefully with lots of padding when you’re moving. Good luck!

  64. I’m a teen librarian, and I’ve been searching for projects to do with the teens through Pinterest. I found this project on Pinterest, and I plan to use it at an upcoming teen art day program at The Urbana Free Library in Urbana, IL. I’d love to use one of your images to advertise the event–could I please have your permission to copy the image location, if I have a link back to your blog post? If I can have your written permission, that would be fantastic. Thanks!

    • I’m so glad to hear you’re using this idea, and hope all goes well. You do have my permission to use images, and thanks for linking back. Thanks also for asking and good luck!

  65. Heidi O.

    I take it it’s normal for the glue to take a long time to harden? I used Elmer’s Tacky glue. Obviously the thinner lines have turned clear. I’m soooo looking forward to pressing the Foil.

  66. Anonymous

    Can’t wait to try this with my bathroom ceiling. It will go perfect with the restored claw foot tub and antique sink that I have! Any ideas on how to attach the individual “tiles” to the ceiling?

    • Ooooh your bathroom is sounding lovely! I wouldn’t want to venture a guess about how to attach your tiles, because they will be in a potentially humid environment. You should probably seek advice at a good hardware store, or even research it online. Good luck!

  67. Angie

    Beautiful! Would there be a way to seal this to make it waterproof/washable? This would be a great inexpensive alternative to the tin look backsplashes!

    • The foil is delicate, so it would definitely have to be protected with a sealant of some kind. I’m just not sure what would be strong enough. You could ask for advice in hardware stores and craft stores. Then try out what they recommend, just to be sure it works. Good luck!

  68. Courtney

    I just got back from purchasing the materials to do this. Im gonna give it a try now. Wish me luck 🙂

  69. Pam

    I have everything on hand to try this. Thanks!


    beautiful, thank you for sharing this with us.
    a hug from Denmark

  71. shanitha

    This is so great! can it be painted?

    • Anything’s possible, but I’ve only tried shoe polish on the foil. I think acrylic paint would work, but you might need to add a primer underneath first. You can always test things out on a plain piece of foil and see how things go. Good luck!

  72. Anonymous

    I am really excited to try this so I got the cardboard, the glue, I drew and left the glue over night to dry but it seemed to fade? The glue will be clear or stay white? And mine was not that raised. Not sure what I did wrong ?

    • It’s normal for glue to look a little transparent once it dries. Did you use Aleene’s Tacky Glue? It was recommended by the person who originally did this project because it doesn’t spread out as much as regular white glue. You can test what you made by taking a small piece of foil and pressing it on top of the dried glue to see how well the lines show up. If they are not well defined and you did use Aleene’s, you might want to try again on another type of card board.

  73. Julie

    Thank you !!! I am useing cheap cheap board I am hoping that is the reason .

    • sally hartsfield

      Dumb question: which side of the foil — shiny or not shiny — is up? And for a backsplash how do you attach it to the wall?

      • Not a dumb question 🙂 I used the shiny side, but both would work. It depends on whether you prefer a shiny surface or matte. Much of it is dulled down by the shoe polish anyway. In fact, I would recommend making a small sample of each to see what you like best. To create a backsplash, you will need a strong glue, and it would be best to go to a good hardware store where they can advise you on what to use. Hope everything works out well!

  74. Emily

    Just finished this …love it! thank you so much for this…(used old puffy paints I had on hand and let dry for a few days before adding the foil instead of glue)..I thought my pattern was to detailed and wasn’t coming through the foil well until I used the pencil that really helped….what a fun easy project…Thanks again!

  75. Tracy

    This is great! Do I need to be concerned with its durability? Any suggestions on what to use to protect it? Thanks! Can’t wait to try this 🙂

    • Thanks Tracy. If you’re just making an image to display, it should be quite durable because you won’t be touching it. You could even frame it if you really want to protect it. Good luck!

    • I had the same question. I was thinking about a layer of mod podge over the top, but that would change the look I think. Maybe asking someone at a craft shop if there is some sort of top coat or sealer to use. I move a lot so I want it to be durable enough to survive being packed and unpacked. Will you post if you find something that works for making it more durable??

      • I agree with you that Mod Podge may not be the best choice.I think one of these days, when I have more time, I should probably test out a number of finishes and post the info.

      • Sarah

        I’ve actually done this… and used a spray on adhesive (glue in a can, yay!) It works beautifully, just a thin layer, sprayed gently. I’m sure you could do another couple of layers once the first has dried if you like. I was trying to find ways to seal it as i wrote a quote special to me and my girlfriend in glue, and wanted it to be easily mail-able without making a big mess.
        Sorry for the novel :/ !!!

      • Novel appreciated! I would have thought the spray adhesive would retain its tackiness. Did you find it eventually went away?

  76. Amanda

    Will this hold up to slight heat? I would love to use this as a cheap backsplash behind my stove. We are renting so i need something thats not permanent.

    • I haven’t tried that out, so you may want to test out a small one and see how it holds up. The problem might be cleaning it, since it won’t hold up to the kind of scrubbing a backsplash sometimes requires. A sealer of some kind could help.

  77. Sarah

    I love this!!! I was wondering, do you
    Think this would work on a canvas?

  78. Wow. How cool! We once did foil projects in class once like these, but the methods were so painstakingly hard and tedious. Now, with this method, I can make them more easily…and they’re more beautiful, too.

  79. Great idea, wonderful results!

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  81. Christina Gargano

    I really want to do this with my 7th & 8th graders. Can I use chip board sheets?

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  84. Rohan 7 Things

    Wow, that is beautiful! I used to love straightening out foil as a kid, sliding my finger nail over it and making all kinds of shapes. This is really cool, thanks for sharing 🙂


  85. Amber

    I was wondering if the shoe polish rubs off easy. I love the look of this and would like to ’tile’ my kitchen like this. But i need to be able to clean it.

    • The shoe polish will come off if you’re cleaning it, and I’m not sure this is something that will hold up well to repeated cleaning. It would definitely have to be sealed with something. Maybe ask at an art supply of hardware store, and see what they recommend.

  86. That is very cool – and I like the designs you created!

  87. I did something like this with a recycled material box at Christmas and I found that recycled aluminum cans and homemade alcohol ink were the best combination for me. I never considered glue or clay underneath. I love this, I was also reminded of those ceilings when I saw it. If I do another tin box this year I will link you.

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  90. Della

    I like this and was thinking of using it as a back splash is there a way to seal it?

  91. I would recommend going to an art supply store or even a hardware store, and asking them for suggestions. You can then test it out on a sample piece, and also see how it stands up to cleaning, since it will be a backsplash. Good luck!

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  93. Shannon

    I made these with my Pre-K class for our yearly Art Auction this year and at first I was really skeptical (mostly in my drawing skills) but I ended up having parent’s bidding on them who were not even in my class. We made 5 and I think 2 or 3 were purchased by other people because they were so cool, we made a ton of money to benefit babies in the NICU ;D

  94. Pingback: Top 10 Ideas for Shiny Aluminum Foil Crafts - Top Inspired

  95. Noreen Karcher

    do you have to use liquid/cream based shoe polish specifically for it to stick to the aluminum foil? I tried to use shoe polish in a small round tin that you rub on but it didn’t stick at all. Thank you!

    • Noreen, I used a creamy formula which worked really well. There is a link to it on the post, under the materials section. I didn’t try any other types of shoe polish. It was just pure luck that I bought this one, and that it worked out well.

  96. Anonymous

    Fantastic idea. Thank you for sharing.

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  98. Cutie

    Could I use the glue gun instead of Aleene’s Tacky Glue?

  99. Jenny

    Thanks so much for sharing this. I just finished one with a link to our English focus this term at school. The glue I used was Crayola as I couldn’t get hold of Aleene’s Tacky glue. It was OK but your artworks seem to have more definition. How long did it actually take for your glue to dry? I left mine overnight but I wonder if ATGlue dries in hours.

    Having read some of the comments, I am keen to try the clay option as it should allow for the lesson to be completed in one session.

    Many thanks.

    • So glad you dropped by Jenny. I left the glue overnight, and only checked it the following morning, so i’m not sure how long it took to dry. Would love to hear how the clay option turns out!

  100. Hi! Loved the final output. I was just wondering whether the shoe polish didn’t mess up. I was thinking of doing this as my notebook cover and the shoe polish might be weird to touch and when I put it inside my bag, it may make a mess, if you get what I mean. 🙂

    • Thanks Carla. You’d definitely have to seal the shoe polish with something, to ensure it won’t rub off. Not sure if Mod Podge would work, but you could visit an art supply store and see what they would recommend, then test it out before making your notebook cover. Good luck!

  101. Veens

    So Gorgeous! This is on our list to do 🙂

  102. Thank you for visiting my site from time to time. I love coming over to your site. This year I have joined an Art League. I gave them some suggestion on things I could share with others. They asked me to teach some young people on Saturday. I have decided to show or have them make flower collage bouquet. I think the kids will enjoy creating somethings with this idea. Again it great to be able to see each other works of art. Thanks for sharing and Happy New Year!

    • Happy New Year to you too, and thank you for visiting! I like your idea for making collages. It’s always a fun technique to use with kids. Hope all goes well with the teaching. Enjoy!

  103. Christine

    Just found you via Pinterest. 🙂 When I was in 3rd grade (in the 60s) we did this on a Chinette paper platter. We cut shapes out of egg carton material and glued them down. Rubber cement held the tinfoil down, and then…. the shoe polish. I’ve been looking at Sid Dickens’ panels and remember this…. and here you are! 🙂
    I’m enjoying your blog. Thanks for sharing so much!

  104. Very cool! Thanks so much for sharing!

  105. I’m looking to do word art on several 30″ x 20″ boards and love this style! Although using a glue stick on that large a surface seems like it would take a while. Would spray mount work just as well when covering the board with foil?

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  107. nancy

    Beautifull,,, thanks FOR sharing

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  110. Nice idea. I love the old tin ceilings or backsplashes..

  111. Deb Mikulski

    This is such an economical way to show kids reposse! I like the idea of using the shoe polish as well, much easier as well. One problem I have is where to dry these. I teach in a Catholic school and my drying rack tilts backwards and will alter the designs. I might see if there is a cardboard mailbox system in storage so that they can be stacked and dried flat. With 30-38 kids to a class this is the best solution. Thank you!

  112. Pingback: Foil Drawings - AllDIYIdeas.comDIY Ideas

  113. I have done this using paints and sharpies, but the colors wouldn’t stick. I’m excited to try this with shoe polish! Beautiful picture!

  114. Jennifer Gleason

    Thank you for your complete instructions and wonderful idea! I am using this to make a medal for my friend and I used deminsional fabric paint for the lettering. The small tip on the bottle worked well!

  115. Thanks! I will try it and teach my students.

  116. Kathy Houk

    This was awesome tutorial on aluminum artwork. Very nice. Thank you for sharing.

  117. Rhona

    Lovely project. I love pewter art so will definately try this.

  118. Pingback: Activities During Quarantine: Printmaking and Foil Art | The Enrichment Alliance of Virginia

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