Saturday, March 08, 2014

Copper Technique

Hi everyone.  A few followers have recently tried the copper technique that I use on my cards ... some had success, some not.  So I thought I'd dedicate this post to the "ins and outs" of using copper (from my experience).  The tips are at the bottom of this post for those interested.

First I'm going to share two cards that use copper in a different way than die-cuts.

Embossed copper is simply amazing.  Because it is thicker than card stock, it really embosses deeply.  Makes for a beautiful background ...

This has the heated copper embossed with a woodgrain folder.  Simple.  I added a white die-cut of leaves and a frame with simple sentiment.  I'm including a close-up of the embossed copper so you can see even more detail ...

If you wanted to have a die-cut copper object on your card, but don't have a die that will cut through the thick copper, here's an alternative.  Use your card stock card front to die-cut your image and use the negative, backed with copper.  This way you have your object in copper, but from a different perspective.

I die-cut the leaf on my main card stock panel and then glued a solid piece of heated copper behind it ... a simple alternative to a die-cut copper leaf.  I'll include a close-up so you can see the details ...

I hope this encourages those of you that have had some frustrations using copper.  As always, feel free to email me if you have any questions (link is in the right column near the top).


Copper Sheets:

My supplier for copper is in Canada ($22/roll), but they purchase it from the manufacturer in USA.


K&S Precision Metals - Chicago Illinois (click link for their website with list of retailers).
#6020 - Soft Copper (.005 thick - 36 gauge) is the copper I use and it comes in 12" x 30" rolls (find it under Craft Products).  Their copper is wonderful and turns lovely shades of orange, pink, and blue when heated.  I found out that you can purchase this copper at Hobby Lobby's on-line store (thanks for the info Nancy!).

I have also bought copper from Basic Copper - also based in Chicago, Illinois (same thickness).  Their copper is a little different.  Still works well, but when heated turns more golds and not the rainbow of colors I get from the other manufacturer.

Tips for heating Copper:

Copper sheets are heated until they start to turn color (orange, pink, blue) ... it's so pretty!

  • Use a mini torch (creme brulee torch from kitchen supply store works well).  There is an alternative!!  Jacquie follows my blog and contacted me to say that she used a heat gun (high wattage) --- thanks Jacquie!!  I hadn't even thought of giving that a try.  My heat gun is "borrowed" from hubby's workshop.  It originally was intended to strip paint, so it is high heat (1200 watts).  I tried it today - success!!  It does heat the copper slower, so I had more time to react once it starts to turn color.  It takes a little longer than the torch, but I love the control of it and will be experimenting further.  The craft heat guns do not have enough power and heat to work on copper ... at least that's what I've been told.
  • No matter what you use to heat the copper, it is easier to heat a full sheet and then die-cut / cut for your project.  You have more control because a large sheet (I usually cut them 5" x 6") heats slower than if you had a small die-cut and were trying to heat it.  This is what I do for my mini torch.  If using a craft heat tool, maybe die-cutting first and then heating a smaller piece won't take as much time - need to experiment further with that).

  • If  the copper becomes overheated, it turns a silver color.  To avoid that from happening (I always get some silver on my sheets - but not the majority), I keep my torch above the copper (about three or four inches) and moving at all times.  As soon as I see a section start to turn color, I pull the torch away ... there is a delay and the copper will continue to change for a second or two, so under-heating is the way to go until you are comfortable.

Tips for cutting (die-cutting) Copper:

Copper is soft and can be cut with scissors.  Because it is thicker than card stock, it embosses really beautifully using the embossing folders and makes wonderful backgrounds.

It can be die-cut … some dies work better than others:

  •  The original Sizzix dies (steel-rule) cut through it easily – usually with one pass.

  • Thin steel dies that are just an outline die work fairly well, although you may need to add a shim of card stock to put extra pressure.  Running it back and forth through your machine a couple of times also helps.

  • The thin wafer steel dies aren’t the best for this technique, but it depends on the brand ... so it’s a matter of experimenting (I have had success with some Cheery Lynn leaf dies only).  Again, use a shim to add more pressure if you need to.  Also, run it back and forth through your machine several times.  If it mostly cuts, but leaves little bits attached, you can use your scissors to get the tough parts, but BE CAREFUL, the edges are very sharp!  If it doesn't cut through at all, then it's not going to no matter what you do ... it will emboss the image and that's another way to use copper.

After die-cutting the pieces, running it through a die-cutting machine just between the cutting plates (no dies or shims), flattens out any sharp edges you may get during die-cutting.  A stylus works well to add shape afterwards if you don’t want it flat.

And, if you want to make the die-cuts thicker, you can die-cut the same image in card stock and glue to the back of the copper die-cut (this also helps eliminate any sharp edges).  Tombow Multi-glue works well for me, but there are probably lots of glues that will work.

Hope this helps!

Stamps:  Sunny Sentiments (Amy R) (card 1); Many Thanks (Paper Smooches (card 2)
Paper:  White
Ink:  Early Espresso (SU!)
Accessories & Tools:  Big Shot, Fresh Foliage die (Memory Box), Meadow Leaf die (Poppy Stamps), copper sheet, mini torch (card 1), heat tool (card 2), woodgrain embossing folder (Sizzix)


  1. Wow, cool post. Love the deep lines of the embossing and of course the gorgeous colours. These cards are stunning, Loll.

  2. Thank you so mich for sharing all that Loll. I have always admired your cards where you use the copper but pictured a special set up needed so never thought anymore on it. Will have to give it a go. It is such a stunning effect, love it. Again thanks

  3. WOW love this Loll, great colours, would look fantastic for Autumn leaves. Where do you get the copper from, do most craft shops stock it?

    Love & Hugs

    Jacquie J xxx

  4. stunning Loll. Love them both and the just shine..........

  5. TFS your 2 absolutely Stunning copper cards Loll and all your amazing tips. I have only made one card with the copper you sent me, but will be making more for sure. I used my Bigz Die, which worked great.
    [url=] Here is my leaf card, which I LOVED. [/url] All because of you my friend :-)

  6. This post has such a lot of information! I played with my copper yesterday but didn't get the card finished. I'm going to have to emboss some although I don't want to use too large a piece. I love the embossed copper and behind the leaf cut is gorgeous! You have started a whole new trend my trendsetting friend!

  7. Thank you for sharing this fantastic technique. I will file it away and try it one day.

  8. Thank you for sharing this info! I was just about to ask too! Your cards are simply stunning :)

  9. Love your use of the copper on these beauties. Such a great effect. Love the different colors and looks you've achieved...stunning!

  10. Thank you so very much for doing this post, Loll!! Your cards are absolutely stunning and I'm definitely going to try this!

  11. Two amazing cards Loll and a fabulous tutorial. I adore heated copper, it holds a fascination because of the different colours and patterns that just "happen". It sounds like you buy yours in bulk. It seems very difficult to get hold of in the UK........can only get hold of the "craft" sheets which aren't very big apart from the price which is!

    Karen x

  12. Beautiful cards, Loll, and just so much wonderful information you've given us. I see that it does leave a deep embossing and I love that. The colors are just gorgeous, too. I'll have to get some copper and try it.

  13. Thanks for all the wonderful tips, Loll. I'm going to try using my heat gun to heat it. Both of your cards are gorgeous!

  14. I now must try the copper. Your tutorial is perfect. As usual, your art is inspirational and stunning. Agree with Bonnie, you are a trendsetter . . .

  15. Just an added note . . . thank you for keeping all of us inspired and working hard on new techniques.

  16. Thank you so much for posting such an in depth tutorial on working/playing with copper! Your cards are absolutely beautiful too, Loll!

  17. Awesome use of copper -- looks quite fabulous with the white!

    ps - thanks for stopping by!

  18. Thanks so much for the tutorial! I have always admired your beautiful creations with copper but thought I couldn't do it since I don't have a torch. Will try it with the heat gun!

  19. Each of these cards is just a beauty. No other words can say it! Thanks for sharing all the tips and I particularly appreciate the one about placing the copper behind the white negative cutout. I'm wondering if I tried the browns & golds on the soda can metal, if it would create a coppery look. DH says that metal doesn't react same as the copper. We'll try it again. Also thanks for the die recommendations. I had some that cut ok, some not so. Appreciate you taking the time to explain the different methods, cause this is just a super look, IMHO. You do it so well. TFS & Hugs (yes, you need to check out the alcohol inks. There's plenty of videos to show best uses. You will so love them).

  20. Hi Loll LOVE these new copper cards, brilliant! I have shared your blog with so many card making friends because you make such awesome cards. I wanted to respond about using my heat gun on the copper, yes it is a craft style mfg. by Marvey (I purchased it from Michaels a hundred years ago). For the leaf die cut, I heated it after I cut it out. I tried heating it over the flames on my cooktop, but ruined each piece. I found the copper at Hobby Lobby and it can be found on ebay too. Anyway thank you so much for all your inspiration and coaching. Jacquie

  21. I have heated mine over the hob or toaster too.

  22. That is so like you, Lolly, so generous with your tips. This took a lot of time and effort and it is very much appreciated. You are definitely the Queen of Copper in my book!! Hugs, Dolly

  23. fabulous cards and I have been playing with my copper over the last few days-thank you so much, I have a card to post today and did a TO DT card using die cuts-I just love it xx

  24. Wow Loll your cards are amazing and a technique I am going to try


  25. This is amazing :) I loved this post, thank you so much Loll for sharing in all the details of awesomeness. Hope to try my hands on copper soon :) ur cards are inspiring as ever :)

  26. Beautiful copper work! The natural colors of copper are wonderful! Thanks for sharing your details

  27. Love your use of the copper on these beauties. Such a great effect. Love the different colors and looks you've achieved...stunning! moonshine still

  28. I never get tired of looking at your beautiful cards featuring torched copper. Thank you for all the tips.


Thanks so much for leaving a comment. I love hearing from you! Loll :)