A TECHNIQUE DRIVEN Blog dedicated to mastery of surface design techniques. First we dye, overdye, paint, stitch, resist, tie, fold, silk screen, stamp, thermofax, batik, bejewel, stretch, shrink, sprinkle, Smooch, fuse, slice, dice, AND then we set it on fire using a variety of heat tools.

Monday, August 26, 2013

(not so) Heavy Metal - Pt 5 cont.

Now you have your as-flat-as-possible rectangle of aluminium can.

While there are many directions to go from here, for this demo we are going to use alcohol inks.  I'm sure most of you have used these before but just for the sake of the demo I'll be giving the basic instructions.  Now....I was having so much fun I did forget to make a process photo but I think the written instructions will be clear enough when you see the results photo anyway.

can rectangle
alcohol inks
compressed air
ink applicator tool and felt

Step 1 - Dropping In

Again - you probably have your own technique for applying alcohol inks but here's what I did.  

I applied drops and sometimes short lines of the alcohol inks in the colors I chose onto the aluminium can rectangle.  After each drop (or at least before they dry) I sprayed them with the compressed air which feathers them beautifully. Do this until you get the look you want.

Step 2 - Stamping On It

I put the felt pad onto the applicator tool (the one that looks like a rubber stamp but with the velcro-like surface that holds the felt).  In just one corner I put several drops of one of the colors I am working with.  I then "stamp" this in various spots on the rectangle and let the magic happen.  Then I do the same with the other color(s). Just enough to make an interesting textured look.

And here is what it looks like

Now...you remember the copper sheet that we cut into strips to weave into the textured copper sheet?  Well since we didn't use them all....and they were still on my work island begging not to be forgotten...I grabbed some "brown" colors of alcohol ink and played with them for a bit.  I just dropped some on and then dabbed it with the applicator to mix them up and blend them.  And so I have:

And here is a close-up so you can tell a little bit more how they look.  I used the same felt pad so I had some of the blue-green ink still on there.  I love the way it added a bit of a verdigris effect!

OK so now what.  While I have not decided on a FINAL design, I did audition several of my fabrics with each of these bits and have now set aside these pieces for future creations.  

I have a piece of sun print which I did years ago (can you see the little fish shapes in the "water"?  And a piece of hand-dyed purple (of course).  Right now in my head is floating around something about a reef.....  We'll see.

And for the copper strips...I had a piece of  hand-dyed turquoise (and some other color which I have no idea what it was) along with bits of African bark cloth.  I think it has great potential!!  Keep hearing "Rift Valley" in my head......

Now one little bonus bit.....

You can also paint this can rectangle with acrylics.  One other prep step though is to lightly sand the aluminium to create a "tooth" to the surface.  I did this experiment a while ago and it will end up in something someday.  I painted the aluminium can and then cut out the shape I wanted.  ALSO...as you can see...you can stitch through it on your sewing machine with ease!!  I just suggest going a bit slower than usual as you are rubbing the thread against bare metal.  But it really was quite easy!! After sewing it on, I also painted the fabric with the same acrylics.

I hope you enjoyed your trip down "Tin Can Alley" and at least gleaned an inspiration or an idea along the way.

I'll let you play for a day or so with your cans. Then we will hit the last installment of this series.  Things are going to heat up!  

See you in a couple of days!


  1. I save my blunt needles to use for stitching metal. Sometimes you can just create a pierced pattern in the metal with an unthreaded needle and stitch into it. If you place it on a piece of felt or denim, you will protect the bed of the machine from scratches (because the piercing creates sharp edges on the other side).

    Have you got tomato puree tubes where you are? IF you cut them open after the tomato puree is squeezed out, you have a lovely copper/bronze colour metal to use. Very malleable. Strips of it are fun to weave. It is very easy to stitch into.
    Both these and the drinks tins can be embossed into with an empty bic/biro pen.

    Don't blast the tomato puree tube with heat. Or if you do, be aware that you will lose the colour. Because the colour is a coating to prevent erosion by the acid in the tomato, not the actual metal.
    Sandy in the UK

  2. Oh, boy... you really caught my attention with this one! I just emptied a can so I can try this, but first I need to find some alcohol inks. Hopefully the local craft store carries them. I love the effect you achieved with the compressed air... awesome! Time to clear the decks and get busy on this one.

  3. This was really a wonderful post and the entire month was "something new". Thanks so much...


Although this blog is no longer active, we will get your comments so please feel free to share them.