Foil Art

I was recently inspired by the colorful artwork blooming in the deserts of the Southwest. In a place where everything wants to kill you, there is an alien beauty that is as fascinating as it is dangerous.

I initially wanted to do landscapes full of cactus, but I decided to let the students create any design they were inspired to do.

The beauty of this project is that it takes full advantage of the shiny property of the foil and the translucent nature of the sharpies. I gave a little lesson on translucent (not transparent) versus opaque and then we were off!


  • sketchbooks
  • yarn
  • Elmer’s glue
  • spray adhesive
  • foil – heavy duty is preferred, but we had to make a thinner variety do
  • sharpies
  • pencils

*A note about the markers: sharpies are the best marker for this project. In testing other markers, the ink got gummy, never really dried, and easily wiped off the foil. Sharpies don’t do this and are transparent, allowing the light to pass through them and bounce off of the foil creating a beautifully luminous effect.


1.) First, draw your design. The biggest problem for my kids was making sure that no lines were closer together than a finger’s width. The more narrow the lines, the more likely the foil will rip during burnishing.

2.) Trace the design with glue.

3.) Cut the string to place along the glue.

4.) Next, spray adhesive to the paper and the back of the foil for a solid bond.

5.) Then burnished the foil with your fingers to make the lines stand out. The better you burnish, the better the results.

6.) Lastly, color!

Glowy Works of Art!

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