Create Your Very Own Metal Embossed Tile

Metal Embossing

Background: Metal embossing dates back to the 12th Century. It is used in various cultures thus it has gained various names like repujado (Spanish) and repoussé (French). Students will apply their artistic abilities to create their very own metal embossed tile from a recycled material to learn the importance of recycling.

Grades: K-5

Learning Goals: Students will be able to do the following –

  • Employ a basic metalworking technique by embossing lines and textures into a soft metal
  • Design elements including line, pattern, texture, and color while considering their relationship to a 3-dimensional surface
  • Look for and recognize examples of embossed metals in historical and contemporary examples
  • Learn the similarities among all cultures who create artworks using the same technique.


  • Colorful permanent markers
  • Cookie sheets cut into 5in x 5in
  • Toothpicks or dull pencils for embossing
  • Patterns printed from website
  • Ribbon or yarn for hanging
  • Single hole punch to put string through


  • Export: something that is taken from one country and sold to another
  • Metals: a solid material that is hard, shiny, and malleable, with good electrical conductivity
  • Natural resources: useful raw materials that we get from the Earth
  • Recycling: converting waster material into reusable material
  • Settlers: a person who settles in an area that was not inhabited by anyone (newly explored)


  1. Today we will learn about South American folk art known as repujado. In English it is called metal embossing. Show them examples of metal embossing here. Repujado is an art form that dates back to the 12th Century. Repujado is the craft of pushing, working or making a relief (three dimensional) on a metal. It was brought to South America through Spanish settlers. Called repujado in Spanish and repoussé in French. Several cultures have used metal embossing in their work. For this reason, repujado is also known as repoussé in French.
  2. Show kids an example of French repousse here. Now show previous example of metal embossing. Ask them if there is a difference between the two other than their name. Ask if they can think of anything we use as money that may be embossed (pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters).
  3. Ask kids to brainstorm and think about different kinds of metals (silver, copper, gold, aluminum, etc.). If they cannot think of any, give them a hint (foil, soda cans, etc.). Tell them that copper is one of Chile’s biggest metal exports. An export is something that is taken from one country and sold to another. Ask students to find Chile on a map.  
  4. Ask why they think some metals are more expensive than others. Begin to explain to them that metals are natural resources. Natural resources are useful raw materials that we get from the Earth. They occur naturally, which means that humans cannot make natural resources. Instead, we use and modify natural resources in ways that are beneficial to us. Silver, copper, and gold are natural resources. Can you think of a way silver and gold are modified to our benefit? (jewelry)
  5. So why should we recycle? Recycling conserves our valuable natural resources! Recycling helps to conserve our natural resources. By recycling we reduce the amount of natural resources needed to make products and packaging.
  6. Now you are ready to start the activity. Before you start, demonstrate to the kids how you should trace your pattern on to the cookie sheet and how you can make a greater impact by pushing harder onto the sheet with your toothpick or pencil.


  1. Begin by measuring out and cutting 5 inch squares from each cookie sheet.  Use a ruler to measure them and mark the cookie sheet by pressing a knitting needle along the ruler, then simply cut them out with scissors. 
  2. Then take the ruler and score 1/4″ from all four sides of your square using the knitting needle.
  3. Choose your pattern and place it over the tile. Using a tooth pick or dull pencil, begin tracing your pattern pushing hard into the metal.
  4. Here the metal tile is shown with the pattern scored into it.  Keeping the tile on your working surface, use the toothpick to gently rub indentations into the metal where you want them.  The more you rub, the deeper they can be, just be careful not to use a ton of force as the aluminum is very thin metal.
  5. Once the piece is indented to your satisfaction, it is time to color it.   You can choose to color the raised parts of the metal or the lowered parts.   

What I learned/Assessment:

  1. Ask the kids to show you where Chile is.
  2. Ask the kids to tell you what kinds of metals exist and Chile’s biggest metal export.
  3. Ask the kids to tell you what the importance of recycling is.