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Today we are making art with an unconventional material that you probably already have in a kitchen drawer at home: aluminum foil! Create a metallic artwork by making embossed lines in the foil. This activity is inspired by the artwork Steel Star by artist Wally Dion. In this piece, he reimagines a culturally significant object, the star blanket, and transforms its meaning by making it out of shiny stainless steel in contrast to the soft, matte fabric typically used.

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Steel Star on view as part of Next Year’s Country. Remai Modern 2020. Photo Blaine Campbell
Artist Bio

Wally (Walter) Dion is a member of Yellow Quill First Nation (Salteaux) and currently resides in Upstate New York. Working in a number of media including painting, drawing and sculpture, his art is concerned with issues of identity and power, and includes both representational and abstract geometric works.

Supply List
  • Aluminum foil (heavy-duty is a bit better if you have it, but regular works too)
  • Blunt point (knitting needle/ skewer/ toothpick/ golf tee/ ballpoint pen/ embossing stylus or similar)
  • Cardboard, cardstock or thick paper
  • Scissors glue stick (optional)

Cut down a piece of cardboard or cardstock to the size you’d like your final piece to be. This will be your backing. Rip a section of aluminum foil that’s bigger than the backing. Lay down a few pieces of scrap paper on your hard drawing surface to protect it. Trace your backing onto the foil using a blunt point tool of your choice.

Cut out the foil around your traced outline. If you would like your foil to wrap around your backing, cut a couple of centimetres outside of the tracing line. If you would like a border to show your backing, cut slightly inside your traced line.

Start drawing on the aluminum foil with your blunt point. You may want to use the surroundings in your home to inspire your drawing, your imagination to draw an imaginary place, or you can simply draw patterns and designs. Older artists may wish to try crosshatching to add some shading and visual texture to their drawings.

Once complete, flip your foil over and feel the embossed lines! You may want to apply glue to your backing but this is optional. Line your backing up to the drawing and gently lay it down. If your foil is larger than the backing you can then fold the edges over the backing so that they don’t show on the front. This will also help hold the foil onto the backing.

Flip it over and admire your fantastic artwork!