Friday, March 11, 2011

Embossed Metal Tape ACEOs

I love the look and texture of embossed metal. I started making these ACEOs a while back and always seem to come back to them from time to time. A few people have asked how they were made, so here are step-by-step instructions. Like anything else, it is fun to try different things, so don't be afraid to come up with your own variations... that's what makes it so much fun! I hope you enjoy the instructions and making your own metal embossed ACEOs.

  • metal tape or metal sheet
  • embossing pen (or ball point pen which doesn't write anymore) - picture in step 2
  • back of a mouse pad, or piece of foam - picture in step 2
  • paper (for the back - size of an ACEO 2.5"x3.5")
  • acrylics (you can also use alcohol ink) - any color and black
  • old brush (to apply acrylics)
  • paper towels - to rub off some of the paint
  • scissors

1. Cut metal a bit larger than 2.5"x3.5" - you want to leave a border around the ACEO so that you can fold it over and hold the paper in place - I'd say at least 1/4"

Turn it over and draw your design in the back adhesive paper if you are using metal tape, or draw on tracing paper if you are using metal sheeting. You want to have a thin but strong paper so that when you trace and put pressure on it, it won't tear completely.
3. Place the metal on the foam with the design facing you. With the embossing tool, go over the lines of your design putting slight pressure, but not enough to tear your metal.

4. Turn the metal right side up and placing your ACEO on a flat surface (off of the foam) trace the outside of the embossed lines - this will flatten the background and make the embossed lines stand out more

5. Place the metal on the foam again, with the back facing you. Emboss your design details. In this ACEO I embossed the tree bark and continued all around the edges.

6. Turn over your ACEO right side up on a flat surface and go around the embossed details you just made to make them stand out more. This may be a matter of going back and forth between step 5 and 6, until you are satisfied with the results.

7. Decide on what to do with the background. On this ACEO, I decided to leave the moon alone and do hatching on the background.

8. With the acrylic color you decided on, go over the whole ACEO. Let it dry for a minute or two and then rub off any excess - be careful when rubbing off, you don't want to do it too hard or you may damage the embossing. You can also use alcohol inks instead, it will give the ACEO a different look - no rubbing off needed.

9. Let dry for a few hours. If you are impatient
and go to the next step, most of you paint will come off (I'm talking from experience :) )

10. Go over the entire piece with black acrylic paint. Let dry for a minute and then rub off with a paper towel until you are satisfied with the results. Let dry.

11. Work on any other details - I clear the moon with alcohol and a Q-tip, and lightly sand over the raised areas to make them stand out more.

12. Cut each of the corners close to the edge of your ACEO - this is so it will be easier to fold the corners.

13. Place the ACEO on the foam, right side down. Peel off the backing paper and place the ACEO backing on your embossed metal.

14. One side at a time, gently fold the metal over the ACEO paper. The foam is underneath, so you can put a bit of pressure, but not too much or you m
ay lose some of the embossed detail.

15. YOU'RE DONE! You can now display your metal ACEO :)


This Zentangle ACEO was painted with alcohol inks, then the background cleared so the zentangle would stand out more.

The background of this ACEO was cut out and the 4 pieces touching the edges were wrapped around a silver wire. The ACEO was painted with blue acrylic paint; most of it came off or was rubbed off :)

This ACEO was done very much like the instructions above, and painted with copper acrylic paint.

The background of this ACEO is very different (and a lot of work :) ). It was painted with blue acrylic paint.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Layers - with Transparencies and Vellum

I have been experimenting with transparencies and layers, and having a great time with the different results:
1. Vellum over a painted background

2. Two layers of transparencies

3. Three layers of transparencies

Here are step-by-step instruction on how to make #1 (Vellum over a painted background)
Materials: Vellum, pen and ink (or black pen), colored ink (I used copper, and two tones of green), background painted paper (I used mulberry paper painted with H2O's - shimmering watercolors)

Create your background. I wet the mulberry paper and then brushed it with shimmering watercolors (H2O's)

Cut the Vellum to the size you want, and draw your picture on it with pen and ink

Keep adding details to your picture until you're satisfied

Add color with ink or gel pens. Vellum curls when wet, so be sure to use small quantities of ink. Decide if you want to add color to the front or back side. I added the trunk color (copper) to the back so that I would not lose the details on the tree trunk, and the leaves (2 tones of green) to the front so you can see the shimmer of the ink. I then went over the outlines of the leaves once again with a black pen, so the edges were well defined.

Go over the edges of the vellum and background with permanent ink (Sharpie or ink pad) to give it a finished look.

Attach the vellum picture to the background and you're done!!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Art from Photos

Pen and Ink

A few months ago I watched a Quilting Arts TV show and ideas started popping into my head; I had to try them! Here are some of my experiments (and steps below).

Pear Tree Blossoms - Acrylic on Canvas (2 canvas 20x24" each)

Baby faces in Pen and Ink (11x14" each)


  1. Using a photo software which has "posterize" as one of the options, work on your picture so that you have lots of contrast. Posterize for 4 tones and work the contrast until you have a pleasing posterized picture.

  2. Print the result on regular printing paper the desired size

  3. Transfer your picture to your surface (paper, canvas, ...). I rub the back of the picture with pencil, then trace the shapes I want to keep so that I end up with a faint pencil mark on my surface

  4. Work on one tone at a time(see below), looking at your print out (I place it in a clear sleeve)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Hand Carved Leaves

I hand carved a block which if I print it side by side will continue a sequence of branches and leaves. I so enjoyed carving this block, printing it, and then playing with the different prints!!! Let me know what you think.

Here is the carved block (you will notice that the beginning and ending of the branches are the same distance from the edges so that they can be the continuation of the other if printed in sequence):

Here are some "papers" I printed initially but have not done anything with yet:

And here are some finished works after playing with the prints.

All of these have 3 prints of the hand-carved block in sequence as a base. Some have additional prints on top.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

How many ways are there to display ACEOs?

ACEOs are affordable and collectible miniature works of art. The only specification is the size: 3.5"x2.5" or 8.9cm x 6.4cm.

As a seller and also a collector, I've always looked for different ways to display these little pieces of art. I want to list as many different ways of displaying them, so that other collectors and potential buyers can see how fun it can be to collect and display them.

I have asked my art friends to provide their own pictures and links and hope you enjoy both the ACEOs and the different ways to display them. I will keep adding to this post rather than create new ones, so I can use one link in my listings.
My thanks to all the wonderful art friends who have been so willing to share their ideas. Clicking on the pictures will take you to the contributor's Etsy shop.

1. Display ACEOs on a tiny easel - from martaharvey

2. Create a mini ACEO galery - from readingsully2

3. Display ACEOs in a painted and distressed wooden frame - from Vintagesnapsandscrap

4. Use magnets to display your ACEOs on your refrigerator - from readingsully2
(you can buy a magnetic frame or make your own by attaching a magnet to the back of an ACEO sleeve)

5. Use a mat and frame to display multiple ACEOs - from arteest

6. Display on a windowsill - from chimeracreation

7. Frame and display on the wall with other art - from chimeracreation

8. Place the ACEOs in sleeves and pin the sleeves to a wall or corkboard - from chimeracreation

9. Display in a custom made ACEO box - from readingsully2

10. Display your collection in a binder - from laurali
(You can get 9-pocket acid-free binder sheets from comic book shops)

11. Mat and frame the ACEO in a larger frame - from MoranArtwork

12. Hang on a line with clothes pins - from LittleGreenJellyBean

13. Display in an unlined journal using photo corners - from LittleGreenJellyBean

14.  Get a mat to fit any frame and display a set of ACEOs - from MartaHarvey