Home > Artist Trading Cards > Metal Artist Trading Cards

Metal Artist Trading Cards

ATC-Heavy-Metal-Peacock

I have been embossing and drawing on metal tape to make artist trading cards, and they look great!  This is another project I tried from The Artist Trading Card Workbook by Bernie Berlin.  Metal repair tape has a waxy paper backing, so it is easy to cut pieces off of a roll to work with.  I am sharing this with an online trading group and added a step.  This is the basic process.

At the least you need:

  • a roll of metal repair tape (available at hardware and home improvement stores),
  • some acrylic paint (black or a dark colour looks good). Bernie Berlin uses alcohol inks and Ranger blending solution for surface colours and acrylic paints for recessed lines.
  • a ballpoint pen (even better if it has run out of ink),
  • gloss varnish  (I have been using Americana DuraClear polyurethane gloss varnish, $2 a small bottle at craft stores),
  • a sponge brush to apply the varnish.
  • Nice to have but not necessary: a paper tooling kit or paper embossing tools (shown in the photo) and pattern embossing plates.  The meal repair tape is very soft and flexible, so it will not harm the tools made for working paper.

ATC Heavy Metal Peacock 2

You need to overlap two pieces of tape to fit on an ATC. Metal repair tape is 2″ wide (unless you can find a wider variety).  I peeled the backing away along one edge, fit two pieces of tape together lengthwise and rubbed the paper backing into place.  You can make the overlap horizontal or vertical, it does not make a big difference.  If you fit the two pieces together with a slim, even seam, the seam where the two pieces are joined will not show very much.

It helps to work on a soft surface with a little give.  I used a Styrofoam plate.  Felt, corrugated cardboard, craft foam and many other soft surfaces will help.  You want a little padding so the tape bends under your tool or pen.  Press down gently when you draw your lines, only a little pressure is needed to form lines.  Work in layers if you want to.  I made my background with an abstract feather pattern embossing plate, peeled the paper backing, placed it on a piece of recycled chip board for the core, then I stuck the drawing of the peacock (shown above) on top.  A pattern on tracing paper or using an inked rubber stamp may also give you other ways to build a design to press into the metal surface.  

You can leave your ATC totally shiny silver.  I have enjoyed black acrylic paint as a contrast.  Different browns give an antiqued look.   If you add acrylic paint, try to use a thicker, heavy bodied brand of paint and brush it on full strength.  Wrap a piece of paper towel or napkin around your finger, pulling it very flat, and gently rub away the paint on the surface, leaving paint in the lines and recessed areas.  I prefer to get most of the paint on when it is wet, then let it dry and rub away any haze or unwanted paint later.  Trying to remove all of the unwanted paint in one first step lead me to wipe away more paint than I wanted to.  If you are losing too much paint in the indented lines in the metal, try wiping off the pain in stages.

Varnish the finished ATC to help hold the paint in place.  Use at least two coats.  A clear gloss varnish also makes the metal seem brighter and sleek.  Ironically, it makes it look more like metal.  Also, having a stable, rigid card core in the center will help keep the metal from bending around and prevent the varnish from cracking.  The metal repair tape sticks to paper and drawing board surfaces really well.  I like to glue decorative papers on the back of my ATCs so the back is finished.

Store your roll of metal repair tape with care.  It dents and scratches easily.  Keep it in a box and/or a plastic bag to keep it smooth and even.  Minor blemishes can be rubbed out with your finger tips; lay the dented section flat on a table to smooth it.  If you want to distress the surface on purpose, try rough grit sandpaper, a wire brush or the tip of a nail.  The material looks best if it is shaped and textured.  I like it to look like solid metal and avoid holes or punctures, but you may like to work those into your process.

ATC Michele Lyons dobie256

The amazing ATCs above were made by Michele Lyons (@dobie256 on Swap-bot) using a combination of materials: a metal ATC blank, aluminum foil, a recycled yogurt cup foil, Modge Podge and alcohol inks!

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Categories: Artist Trading Cards
  1. February 21, 2013 at 5:51 pm

    this looks pretty cool! I might want to try this one 🙂

  2. Anne O'Donnell
    December 9, 2013 at 9:19 am

    Hi! I would LOVE to know where you got your peacock design. Did you draw it yourself or emboss it from a premade plate? If you have time, please respond to my email address. I genuinely want to know! anneodonnell41@yahoo.com

    • December 18, 2013 at 1:42 pm

      I just drew a generic somewhat abstract peacock. The background was a paper crafting texture plate for embossing. An easy way to get a design is to rubber stamp pigment ink and trace the stamp lines into the metal tape. It may also work with a photocopy of a design or art, press down through the paper to emboss the metal tape.

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