How to Work with Copper Sheets for Arts and Crafts Projects

Published: 25th March 2011
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For the common person, working with metals can look like a pretty frustrating task that’ll make you grind your teeth. There are so many terms to become familiar with and so much jargon that sounds like Martian talk. So how does a budding craftsman master the beauty of this orange metal? Easy: do a little research.

First, it’s important to research and understand the different levels of a copper sheet’s thickness. An important term to keep in mind is a sheet’s mil. Mil is a unit used to measure a sheet’s thickness and is equivalent to 1/1000 of an inch.

A sheet having 1 mil of thickness is slightly thicker than kitchen foil, making it perfect for projects involving fabric. Unlike kitchen foil, it doesn’t tear as easily. This thickness is perfect for sprucing up any project, from collages, scrapbooks, greeting cards, and paintings. Compared to thicker sheets, a 1 mil sheet can be easily painted on with acrylics.

5 mil copper sheets have the ability to retain their shape. They cannot be torn by hands, but cutting them with scissors is no problem. Five mil is very pliable compared to other thicknesses. It can be easily embossed, and it is perfect for image frames and for collages. An 8 mil copper sheet is still pliable to an extent, but more pressure is required when embossing and punching. Although they’re thicker than 5 mil sheets, they can still be cut with scissors.

It’s regarded that 10 mil copper sheets are the most versatile of all the thicknesses. They’re very flexible and have a good ability of retaining their shape, making them perfect for mixed media art projects and for jewelry pieces. Their edges are very sharp, so be careful when cutting 10 mils. In addition, you can use a hammer to further smoothen their surface.

For sculptures and jewelry, the thickness of choice is 16 mil copper sheets. They’re not as easily flexible like other thicknesses, but they retain their shape better than any other sheet. Adding texture to this thickness won’t be a problem, but embossing isn’t recommended. Copper has been around for centuries, and its beauty has been apparent since then. Don’t be afraid to think out of the box in making new crafts. Have fun and who knows, you might just end up creating an epic masterpiece with this wondrous metal.

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