Thursday, August 7, 2008

MercArt USA

I have to admit I was very excited to be included in the MercArt USA review, but at the same time, I was a little apprehensive. Embossed metal has always intrigued me as I would gaze upon the beauty of the designs, but I always thought it was way too hard for me to accomplish such works of art.
In 2002 MercArt USA was the first company to bring the tools of embossed metal to the United States. Since that time they have been committed to teaching the art of embossed metal through monthly workshops, and now through video for beginners, intermediate, and advanced students.
As I looked through the tools and supplies I was given, my anticipation to learn this new art was peaked. In front of me I had several tools:
  • Beginners Kit (Star Wheel, Cup & Ball No. 2, Brass Brush, Refiner, Teflon D-01 Refiner)
  • Large Cup and Ball
  • Decorative Wheels Horizontal Lines1/8-inch
  • 6 x 6-inch pewter
  • 6 x 6-inch aluminum
  • 5.5 x 4-inch Suede
I quickly realized I would need some instruction before beginning so I watched Magdalena Muldoon demonstrate her metal embossing techniques on the Art Unscripted DVD by PageSage. Once I had watched Magdalena’s segment on metal embossing I decided on a floral pattern for my first project.
The pewter metal included in my kit appeared to be very rich and soft versus the aluminum so I decided to use the aluminum for my first try at metal embossing. I set all of my tools in front of me along with my metal, pattern, and the DVD. As Magdalena walked through each step I was able to easily transfer her methods to the design that I had chosen. I will admit that I am very thankful for the rewind button which gave me the opportunity to review a technique a time or two before I tried to master it myself.
Tammy_MercArt2 Tammy_MercArt3 Tammy_MercArt1

Magdalena had also suggested that the metal could be painted so I used some of my acrylic paints to add some color to the design. Once I had done this, the detail of the design seemed to be lost so I used some Antiquing Medium over the paint and when I wiped it off it also took most of the color – which I liked! The Antiquing Medium brought out the detail and took just enough color away that it gave the entire piece an old world rustic feel. I liked it!
Flower-Card
Title: Thank You For….. Everything! card
Products used: Cardstock (Prism Prismatics)
Metal (MercArt USA)
Metal Embossing Tools (MercArt USA)
Pattern (Tandy Leather)
Patterned Paper (Creative Imaginations)
Paint (Making Memories)
Antiquing Medium (Plaid)
Stamps (Inque Boutique)
Encore Silver Ink (Tsukineko)
Brown Ink (Ranger)
Embossing Powder (Stampendous)
Paper Stump (Misc)
Adhesive (Adhesive Tech, Permanent Bond Glue Runner)

I had only used a little over a fourth of the metal sheet that I made my first project from so I decided to do another – a little bigger this time. I found this really pretty corner pattern for my second project. This time I did not need to use the rewind button as much and I felt a little more confident. Following Magdalena’s clear instructions, and remembering when to use the suede and when not to, I was able to complete this piece in approximately 45 minutes.
Corner  Corner-Upclose-3 Corner-Upclose-1

Because I had tried out Magdalena’s technique of “pushing out” a certain element on this piece (the flower on this piece), I filled the back with Diamond Glaze and let it sit overnight to dry. The next day I used the same painting and antiquing technique that I had discovered with my previous piece and I completed this canvas for a friend.
Canvas-Finished
Faces have been blurred to protect identity
Title: Western Canvas
Products used: Metal Embossing Tools (MercArt USA)
Aluminum (MercArt USA)
Pattern (Tandy Leather)
Patterned Paper (Flair)
Paint (Making Memories)
Antiquing Medium (Plaid)
Instant Age Varnish(Delta)
Crackle Paint (Ranger)
Matte Gel Medium (Liquitex)
Paper Stump (Misc)
Diamond Glaze (Judikins)
Adhesive (Adhesive Tech, Permanent Bond Glue Runner)

I will have to admit that this next project was not supposed to be a part of this review. One early morning I had the thought of trying to emboss an animal. So, I gathered my tools and the scrap piece of metal left over from my other two projects and headed out to the back porch to see what I could come up with. I had used this horse pattern many times back in the days when I used to tool leather and I wanted to try it out on metal. The pattern was larger than the scrap that I had but that was okay because it was only a test piece anyway. To create the look of fine hair on the horse, I used the Brass Brush and gently swiped it across the metal in the direction of the natural hair flow and I used the Refiner to create the horse’s mane and the illusion of coarser hair. This was probably one of the easiest pieces that I had completed so far and it was all done without the aid of the DVD while I was enjoying my morning coffee on the back porch!
Horse
When my son got up he saw the piece laying on the table and he quickly grabbed it to show to his dad. I knew he liked it so I finished it off by adding some Antiquing Medium and matting it to a small notebook cover. My son decided he couldn’t live without it so it disappeared with him into the other room.
Horse-Notepad
Title: Horse Notepad
Products used: Metal Embossing Tools (MercArt USA)
Aluminum (MercArt USA)
Pattern (Tandy Leather)
Patterned Paper (Flair)
Sticker (Flair)
Notepad (Misc)
Paper Stump (Misc)
Adhesive (Adhesive Tech, Permanent Bond Glue Runner)

By now I was feeling confident in my new metal embossing skills. The rich Pewter metal was very soft to the touch and I knew I wanted to create something that would show off a lot of detail and beauty. The complexity of this design was not difficult as long as I would pay attention to the design; pushing and cleaning each small section of the design as I would go. The Pewter was much easier to work with because it was a softer metal and it closely resembles the look of real silver making it a very beautiful piece of art when it is embossed.
Notebook-Cover Notebook-Cover-upclose  Binder-Patina-upclose
While I did not “push out” any portion of the design, the flowers and leaves seemed to be embossed quite a bit from the metal so I filled some of the embossed areas on the reverse side with Diamond Glaze to prevent the design from flattening especially since this would be an item that would be handled quite a bit.
Binder
Title:Floral Binder
Products used: Cardstock Metal Embossing Tools (MercArt USA)
Pewter (MercArt USA)
Pattern (Tandy Leather)
Patterned Paper (Paper Loft)
Binder (Sarah Binder)
Closure (Basic Grey)
Diamond Glaze (Judikins)
Distress Ink (Ranger)
Adhesive (Adhesive Tech, Permanent Bond Glue Runner)

While I am by no means an expert at metal embossing, the results I achieved from Magdalena Muldoon’s instruction on the Art Unscripted DVD and the use of the MercArt USA tools, completely exceeded my expectations. The tools were very sturdy and were as comfortable to use as a writing pen or pencil. The metals were just as easy to work with, providing a beautiful canvas to work on while embossing each pattern to give you a treasured piece of art that anyone can be proud of. I also found that even though the aluminum and pewter were both durable and of high quality they were also easy to cut as well as being able to use a hand punch on the metals. After working with these products, I am definitely hooked on this form of artwork. You never know what you’re capable of when you step “out of the box” a little and try some new type of crafts.
I would highly suggest MercArt USA Metal Embossing Tools and products for all your embossing needs. Also, check out the MercArt USA website for upcoming classes and workshops that might be in your area. I know you will want to take a class in person with Magdalena Muldoon!
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