Saturday, December 19, 2009

Copper Repousse Ornament Tutorial

When I was in High School we had an Arts and Crafts class. I was far too serious (and snobby) an artist to waste a credit on such a class, but one day, I visited my exceptionally talented cuz in class and this is what they were working on:
Copper Repousse.
So now that I am an art teacher and get make all my crafting dreams come true with the projects we work on, I have finally had the chance to play with my own copper.

I bought a roll of copper for about $15 and trimmed out 3x3 inch squares. I know that you can also get kits with all the tools and precut pieces as well, but this was more cost effective.
First we drew out a design on paper, mapping out what would be convexities and concavities. We then transferred the image by placing the drawing on top of the copper and with a ball point pen traced over the lines, pressing to create a light indentation.

On a stack of newspapers for some soft give (and later I used a folded handkercheif, which I liked better), using wood styluses (or toothpicks, crochet hooks, or ends of paintbrushes) we rubbed the convexities out from the back. Turning it to the front, we pushed in the concavities, all with a light coloring motion as to not puncture the copper. Several layers of pressure achieve several ends: a smoother texture, a deeper crevass, and not-so-numb fingers. Flipping it over and over again, with many layers, the image appeared.

The last step is to antique it with India Ink. With a paint brush, paint the ink on and using a paper towel, wipe it away from the raised surfaces, leaving it in the convexities. Repeat the process as much as you wish to achieve the antiqued look you like.
In order to make these an ornament I made sure to leave a border, and trimmed out a square from the corners. I cut out a piece of felt that measures the finished size (after I've folded back the edges) and glue a little piece of ribbon to the back of the felt, then hot gluing the felt to the back of the copper.
I then folded back the edges, allowing the ribbon to stick out from the corners.
And this little creative (and financially challenged) girl gave out copper repousse ornaments to three of my most loved girls for Christmas.

I found a great lesson plan here. And if you're curious, here is a repousse artist that I like. And I love this piece on Etsy.

If I continue to be ambitious, you may find some of these in the Etsy store soon!


  1. Soo pretty! Our Christmas was great but we missed you guys, too! I'd love to plan a trip to SD soon... a good excuse for us to meet! :)

  2. LOVE THEM! I just found a new project to tackle! Thanks

  3. Oh these are lovely, Lindsey! Soooo pretty!

  4. These are awesome.

    Well done, thanks for posting :-)

  5. These are great, Lindsey! Lucky girls who got 'em.

  6. I tried the link for the lesson plan and it doesn't work. Can you repost it? I'm an art teacher too and will try this with my middle schoolers. Thanks!!


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