Saturday, October 23, 2010

FREE Tutorial! Embossed metal flags for Art Journal pages, Altered Books, cards, scrapbooks!

Howdy and Welcome!

I'm back after a brief minor illness. Also, been working on pages in my art journals, scrapbooking and taking care of other areas of life.

This is a free tutorial.
Embossed metal flags
These embossed and painted metal 'flags' are fun and relatively easy to make. They look fabulous on art journal pages, altered book pages, greeting cards and in scrapbooks. This is not a new technique - just my way of doing it.

The metal is not archival, so if you want to use them in your acid-free archival scrapbooks, my suggestion is to seal them - with Golden soft gel medium gloss or Liquitex matte medium.


  • apron
  • Big Shot [or other die cut machine] with embossing platforms
  • bone folder [or similar burnishing tool]
  • decorative scissors [or junky pinking shears dedicated to crafts (not your good pinking shears used for sewing)]
  • dust mask
  • 'Dust Buddy' [or damp paper towels]
  • embossing folders and texture plates (Cuttlebug, Sizzix, etc)
  • latex gloves (optional) 
  • medium (optional) - Golden soft gel gloss medium or Liquitex matte medium
  • metal [aluminum repair tape (comes on a roll, from hardware store)] - this flexible, thin tape is adhesive backed and comes with protective waxpaper on the back
  • old table cloth [or large craft sheet or something to protect your work surface]
  • old mouse pad (cut to fit)  [or flexible pad included with your die cut machine]
  • page protectors (optional)
  • paints (I got best results using Ranger's Adirondack acrylic paint dabbers) or acrylic paints and 1.5" paint brush 
  • removable tape (one-sided) - otpional, for use with Big Shot
  • ruler
  • sanding block (from hardware store) [or Tim Holtz's]
  • scissors
  • various storage containers
  • wax paper
Several days, if done in 'batches'.

Test first: you can make a 'prototype' to test this process in just one day, by slightly modifying each step to just use one or two strips of metal. 

STEP 1 / DAY 1 - CUT:

Cut 5"-6" lengths from roll of aluminum repair tape using scissors. [Cut whole roll. This is a good   project to do while watching TV or a movie.] Store cut tapes until ready for next step.

Mine are stored in an old VHS tape box. Pencil boxes from Target or office supply store would also work. Or just rubber band them together. I store mine in a reused empty VHS box, because I take my ptojects on crops and when I travel.

Cut strips - ready to store

Strips stored in old VHS tape box -
a perfect fit

STEP 2 / DAY 2 - TAPE:
(optional - works with large Big Shot platforms and the larger texture plates)

Tape three metal strips together using removable tape. Tape together in two places - about 1 inch from top and 1 inch from bottom of metal strips. The purpose of this tape is to keep the metal strips stable while embossing, and also while painting. You could skip this step and emboss and paint the metal strips one-by-one, but it would take forever! Removable tape is required so it can be easily removed later.
Repeat for all remaining strips. Store taped strips. I store mine interleaved between sheets of wax paper. One sheet of wax paper is used for each 'three-pack' - that is, one sheet of wax paper for each three strips taped together.


Emboss a 'three-pack' using an embossing folders or texture plates. You might have to create a two-pack or use a single strip if the 'three-pack' is too wide in the embossing folders. Experiment. Repeat for all remaining three-packs. Store embossed three-packs.

Various embossing/texture plates and embossing folder

Metal Strip and Embossing folder

Metal strip inside embossing folder

Strip inside embossing folder -
ready to run through die cut machine

Embossed metal strips - yummy texture!

The embossed texture is so neat - I almost don't want to paint it...

Embossed metal strips stored in re-used plastic packaging -
ready to be painted  in next step
 STEP 4 / DAY 4 - PAINT:

Put on your apron, gloves and protective covering on your work surface. Using 2-3 different color paints (analagous colors that touch on color wheel or different tints of analagous colors or your fave colors), quickly paint a three-pack using long broad strokes of the dabber or your brush. I ususally paint my strokes diagonally. Set aside to dry overnight.
Repeat for all remaining three-packs. Store painted three-packs.

Note: the paintig / drying step may take a few days.
Important: paint must be completely dry before the next step, sanding.

Painted and dried embossed metal strips -
ready for next step: sanding

STEP 5 / DAY 5 - SAND:
Put on your dust mask. With your sanding block, gently sand a three-pack. Then wipe off dust using a 'dust buddy' or slightly damp paper towel. The goal is to sand off a little of the paint that's on the raised edges of the embossed metal.
Repeat for all remaining three-packs. Store sanded three-packs by color family.
That is, store cool color strips together. Store warm color strips together. I use a rubber band or large clip. Fyi, when the painted strips are stored by color family, it makes it easier to apply strips to your pages based on color.

Sanding block and 'Dust Buddy'


Pull off the removable tape from the back of the thee-pack. You now have single strips.
Repeat for all remaining three-packs.
Left side has tape on back - you can just barely see the tape

Right side is an embossed and painted three-strip
Store single strips by color family.
That is, store cool color strips together. Store warm color strips together. I use a rubber band or large clip. Fyi, when the painted strips are stored by color family, it makes it easier to apply strips to your pages, cards and altered books based on color.

Painted strips - sorted by color family,
clipped together and ready to cut in next step


Cut each strip diagonally from corner to corner using the pinking shears or a decorative scissor. I like to use the torn paper decorative scissor or pinking shears for this step.
Repeat for all remaining single strips. Store cut 'flags' by color family until ready to use on your AJ, altered book, cards or scrapbook page.

Finished Cut flags -
ready for cards, altered books, art  journals, and
scrapbook pages (seal first with gel medium for scrapbooks)


When ready to use flag, remove backing and carefully place flag in or near corner of your page. This adhesive is very sticky so don't press into place into it is in the desired position. When in desired position, press gently to adhere. Try not to smash the embossing. Burnish edges only with bone folder or similar tool.

Sit back and enjoy your artwork!

c mlh1 - M L Haynes 2010

If you try this free tutorial, please post your results on YOUR blog and then send me a link to that post via my email: I'd love to see your work based on this tutorial!

Thanks for visiting - please follow me - and stop by again soon!


P.S. My 1 year Blog-iversary is rapidly approaching!!! CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?!!! Stay tuned for my first Giveaway!


Martha Lever said...

Oh, WOW!!! The possibilities are spinning around in my head!!! Thank you so much for posting this. I MUST go get some of this metal alum. repair tape. I didn't even know it existed. It was great before your painted but after you painted it was wonderful too!

LuLu said...

Howdy Martha,

Thanks for visiting - glad you like this tutorial!

Please come back again soon!


Geri said...

Thanks for visiting my blog today - I enjoyed this tut. I've worked with the metal tape before but never tried painting it. Do you use acrylics? Does it adhere well or does it flake off? I really like the embossed effect. There are so many great online tuts about digital art - hope you'll be inspired by them as well! Happy creating. ♥

Coleen said...

The embossing is really cool on these MaryLu. I can see lots of ideas for that.

Coleen in Ukraine

Zsuzsa Karoly-Smith said...

How intriguing! Never heard of aluminum repair tape - must look it up! Those embossed surfaces look gorgeous and open a lot of possibilities - I'm thinking alcohol inks!

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