Hello everyone! Happy Tuesday! Sorry about being gone all last week. I was in California at the Sizzix office attending meetings. I had photos for the blog edited and planned to work on posts in the evening, but at the end of the day each day, I was just worn out! But, I am home again and back at the blogging “grind”.
Today I am sharing a tutorial for an embossed copper house number sign. I have seen several creative house number projects on Pinterest lately and was inspired to make a new number sign for our mailbox on our porch. I wanted to make something inky and wanted to use copper since our mailbox is copper.
Cut mat board to the desired size. I cut mine to 6 1/8″ wide by 4 5/8″ which is the same size as a Tim Holtz Embossing Diffuser. Trace the opening of embossing diffuser in the center of the mat board.
Mark the center of the mat board.
For copper, I used Copper Toned Aluminum Tooling Foil. It is not really copper, but looks like it on one side. It is much cheaper than copper, and because it is aluminum, it is very pliable and workable. I purchased the foil from Whimsie Studio. In place of the copper foil, you could also use the adhesive metal foil sheets from Ranger. They come in silver and now in copper.)
Cut the foil so that it is 1″ larger than the mat board. Mark the measurement with a pencil on the back side of the foil. Also mark around the edges of the mat board. (The pencil mark won’t show on the foil, but the tip will score the foil.)
Use a craft knife and a metal edge ruler to cut the foil on the pencil line.
Run the foil through a Xyron machine to apply adhesive to the back of it. If you use foil like Ranger’s that already has adhesive on the back, you can skip adding more adhesive. If you don’t have a Xyron, you can use spray adhesive or sheet adhesives.
Cut grunge paper pieces slightly larger than die numbers. This die is a thin strip die which is generally used for cutting paper, cardstock, and some thin fabrics. You can cut grunge paper with it but you will have to make several passes through the machine. I like to cut just one letter at a time and crank the machine forward and back about 10 times over the letter I am cutting.
Even after multiple passes, the number may not be completely cut through. It should be close enough though that you can punch it out.
Trim any rough or frayed edges with scissors.
Place adhesive on the back of the numbers.
Place the numbers on the center of the mat board.
Place the mat board number side down on the adhesive side of the foil. Place it so that the mat board is inside the previous scored outline.
Fold each corner of the foil down over the corner of the mat board.
Run a bone folder along the edge of the corners before folding the flaps down onto the back of the mat board.
Turn the piece back over. You will see the numbers starting to show through.
Wrap your finger in a soft dry cloth. Rub the cloth over the numbers. As you rub over it, the numbers will become more defined.
You may use a stylus to trace around the numbers to make them look really crisp. Be sure to wrap the tip of it in a cloth to keep from making any scratches or sharp impressions in the foil.
The piece looks really nice at this stage. You could stop here or you can keep going.
Place the embossing diffuser over the mat board and foil piece. Place it so that it frames the numbers. Tape the diffuser to the mat board to keep it in place.
Run the piece through the Big Shot. I used the multi-purpose platform (the one with tabs). I place the mat board with the diffuser directly on the platform on tab 2 with one cutting pad on top of the diffuser.
The diffuser will transfer the rectangle frame around the numbers. It will also transfer a subtle texture to the outer area.
The piece looks great at this point. You could stop here, but you could also add more…
Place an open Texture Fade embossing folder texture side down flat onto the mat board and foil piece. Use only the front flap of the embossing folder. Use tape to hold the flat embossing folder to the mat board and foil piece.
Place the embossing diffuser on top of the open embossing folder that is taped to the mat board and foil piece. Place it so that the opening lines up with the previous impression of the diffuser. (You could skip the first pass of just the diffuser and skip right to this step.) Tape the diffuser in place to the other pieces.
Place the assemble pieces that are taped together directly on the platform on tab 1. Place a cutting pad on top of the stack. Pass the stack through the Big Shot. Remember, this stack is using only one side of the embossing folder, it is laying flat and is not wrapped around both sides of the mat board and foil piece.
(If you are using something other than a Big Shot, you may need to add shims or make adjustments to the stack to get the correct thickness. If you are using a Vagabond, please be sure that you check your stack using the gauge keys. Do not force too thick of a stack through the machine. If I am experimenting with non-standard stacks or materials, I prefer using the Big Shot because it is way harder to feed to thick of a stack through a manual machine. If you need gauge keys for your Vagabond and need them, you can contact Sizzix at: https://www.sizzix.com/contact).
The final embossed piece. It looks really great like this… or you can add some color…
Apply desired colors of alcohol ink to an ink applicator tool with felt. In my example, I used Currant and Mushroom.
After the first application is dry, add a second application of color. On the second application of color, I used more Mushroom because I wanted to darken the color from the first application.
After the ink is dry, rub a Jet Black Archival Ink Pad directly over the raised areas of the piece. Make sure to add the majority of ink to the numbers to add emphasis to them.
The piece looks great now. I could have stopped… but I wanted some distress effects…
Use a sanding grip to skim over the raised surfaces of the pieces. Move the block in different directions to add scratches and scuffs. The sanding will knock off some of the black ink.
Because this foil is copper-colored, sanding will actually remove some of the copper color too. If you use real copper sheets, you will not get the silver coloring after sanding.
As before, you could stop at this step, it looks great now. Or you could go on…
Use a paint brush to apply a layer of Glossy Accents over the metal surface. The Glossy Accents will seal the piece and make is shiny.
Once the Glossy Accents is dry (about an hour) you can stop, or you can go on…
Use a paint brush to apply a layer of Clear Rock Candy Distress Crackle Paint over the metal surface.
Normally Distress Crackle Paint will not stick to metal, it will flake off when dry. BUT, because this metal has a coat of Glossy Accents first, the crackle will not only bond and not flake, it will actually kind of sink into the Glossy Accents. When dry, the surface will have visible cracking and will be smooth to the touch. It is seriously like magic. 😉
Once the crackle is dry, you can add magnets or what other hardware you need to hang or display the piece.
I really never get tired of how amazing the final finish of the Glossy Accents and Clear Rock Candy Crackle finish looks. It is smooth to the touch but so full of crackle. Amazing!
I created this number plate to dress up the otherwise plain front of my copper mailbox.
As I was photographing it on the mailbox, I thought it might look really cool on my front door too. It also would be really great on the table display in my foyer that has a collection of vintage items. It would be great with a vintage photo of my house… so many ways to use it, I can’t decide which to do! Maybe I will make another that says “welcome” for the door, and one that says 1923 (the year my house was built) for the foyer.
Isn’t that the great thing about crafting? I can make just what I need and want!
PS. If you love the crackle finish, you can see how I used it on jewelry here: https://www.tammytutterow.com/2010/10/tutorial-alcohol-ink-crackled-metal-pendants/.