The Mexican folk art of tin painting is eye candy for little kids, such a fun medium to play with, and it’s perfect for El Dia de Los Muertos (The Day of the Dead, November 1 & 2).
I used to lead this activity when I taught art in Los Angeles elementary schools, and I’ve seen 100’s of children get sucked right into it, inevitably asking for more. I was curious to see if my 3-year-old would have the same reaction…she did!
She made 6 tin paintings before I had to cut her off. If you try this, you’ll have to let me know if you have the same experience with it. If you do a quick image search for Mexican Tin Art (or click this link), you’ll have some good inspiration for this project.
For this project you’ll need:
- Permanent Markers (like Sharpies) in multiple colors
- Pure Metal Tooling Foil. Kitchen aluminum foil is too thin to do the job, but I encourage you to try heavy duty foil it if that’s all you have. I order tooling foil from Dick Blick and it looks like you can also get it through Amazon. If you’re feeling more DIY, you could try cutting an aluminum can with tin snips as Anjie did here.
- Paper tape or electrical tape
- Blunt pencil
This is essentially an embossing project, and I think the joy in it lies in pressing into the foil to create a relief print. It’s highly rewarding, the foil is shiny and enticing, and the final product is a keepsake.
- Cut the foil to the desired size. I like this foil because you can cut it with household scissors or a paper cutter. So easy!
- Tape off the edges to avoid cutting little fingers
- Place the foil on top of a magazine and draw on it with the blunt pencil. Press down firmly to make a good, strong mark. You can experiment with both a blunt and sharp pencil to see how they work differently. The magazine (or stack of newspaper) creates a cushion that allows the embossing to happen.
- Once the drawing is complete, decorate the tin painting with permanent markers. The foil will maintain its sheen beneath the Sharpie marks.
- Display proudly.
- If you’re a teacher, you might like this lesson plan for Mexican Metal Tooling from KinderArt
- Design Motifs of Ancient Mexico is a fabulous resource that’s full of beautiful, easy-to-copy Pre-Columbian symbols and images.
- To make this really come to life, consider buying one or more Mexican Tin Ornaments as inspiration. I’ve purchased these from this company in the past, and they’re not only beautiful, but very well priced.
- Berkeley’s Heart Museum put together this nice PDF pamphlet about Mexican folk art. Scroll to page 35 for a small piece on Tin Art.