Tuesday Tutorial: Riveted Metal 3D Stars

tammytutterow riveted stars

I am so excited about the project for this week’s tutorial! To say I love how it turned out would be an understatement.  These stars are really pretty simple to make while packing a lot of wow in the finished piece.

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The inspiration for this my stars came from a Lowes sales flyer I got in the mail.  They featured a designer challenge that had stars as the focus.  The metal star with patches of metal with nails made me think of Tim Holtz’s Industrial Faux Riveted Metal technique.  One thing I love about working with dies is that they are such a blank canvas and can easily be the start of whatever I want.  I started out thinking I would recreate the star in the flyer using the Sizzix Primitive Star die featuring Tim’s technique.  As I reached for the star die though I thought about the new 3D Star Bright die and wondered how cool it would look in metal… and just like that a very simple inspiration from a magazine turned into something similar but still totally different.

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To create my metal stars, I started with metal foil sheets by Ranger.  They come in two sizes, 6″ x 12″ and 4 1/4″ x 5 1/2″.  I only had the smaller size on hand, so my tutorial shows how to make that size work.  If using the larger size, you can skip through several of the following steps.  The foil sheets are adhesive and need to be adhered to a paper base for stability.  I wanted a very sturdy base so I used manila cardstock, which is heavier than a lot of cardstock.  For each star, you will need two pieces of manila cardstock cut to about 5 3/4″ square and one and half sheets of foil if using the small sheets (or one if using the larger size).

Although the following steps show me working with only one star, remember that for a 3D star you will need to do die cut two stars.  Do the following steps to both stars.

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Peel one corner of the foil back without removing the backing from the whole sheet.

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Match the corner of the exposed foil corner to the corner of the manila cardstock.

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Slowly peel away the remaining backing while smoothing the foil onto the cardstock with your other hand.

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If using the smaller sized of the foil sheet, a strip of cardstock will remain uncovered.

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Apply a second piece of foil to the cardstock, again, starting at the corner and smoothing wrinkles while peeling away the backing.

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Turn the cardstock over and use a craft knife to cut along the edge of the cardstock to cut away the excess foil.  Place the extra foil back on the backing sheet to use on the second piece of manila cardstock.  You can also use scissors to cut the foil if you aren’t comfortable with a craft knife.  I recommend non-stick scissors like the Tim Holtz Tonic scissors.

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Place the foil covered piece of cardstock foil side down over the Star Bright die and die cut it.  Repeat for the second piece.  It is important for assembly that both pieces of cardstock are laid on the die the same way.  With the foil, if you place it foil side up against your clear cutting pad, it can pick up some of the impressions on your clear cutting pad.  Foil down against the foam is the best choice for this project.

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After die cutting, fold the star along all the folds.  At this stage, I like to fold them all as peaks even though some will later be valleys.

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Fold the flaps on the sides of the stars to the back.

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Fold the folds that are the short lines between the star points as valleys.  Fold the folds that are the star points as peaks.  After they have all be folded as either peaks or valleys, you can pinch both sides of the peaks to help make them really sharp and pronounced.

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The star is larger than the Riveted Metal Texture Fades folder so only part of the star would be embossed if you simply put the star in the folder and embossed it.  Trying to insert the star into the folder a second time to match the design would be difficult.  The solution is to emboss a sheet of the metal foil and use parts of it to embellish your star.  The small foil sheet fits perfectly inside the folder.

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Use a craft knife or non-stick scissors to cut sections of the rivet design out of the embossed sheet.  Cut the pieced out so that each piece has an outline on at least two sides.  These outlines are important to making the pieces look welded onto the surface of the star.

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Flatten the star on your work surface.  Peel the backing away from the pieces of embossed foil.  Stick the pieces onto the star.  Rub your finger over each piece to adhere it and to seal the edges.  The pieces can overlap the folds and extend off of the edges.

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Trim and pieces off that extend past the edge by turning the piece over and trimming them with a craft knife or non-stick scissors.

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When you have finished covering the star with the rivet pieces, re-fold the star along the score lines.  Run your fingers along the folds to create nice creases.  If any of the rivet sections pop up, simply press them back down.

Flatten the star again on a non-stick work surface.  Flattening the star again will create some extra subtle lines on the folds that will later resemble weld lines.  It seems like an extra step, but it is worth it in the end.

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Apply black acrylic paint to the surface of the star using a Ranger Adirondack Pitch Black Paint Dabber.  The paint will not absorb but will rather sit and kind of puddle on the foil surface.  (In place of paint, you could also use alcohol inks to color the metal like shown in the tutorial by Tim linked above.)

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Allow the paint to sit on the foil for a minute or so.  Use a dry cloth to blot away the excess.  (I use cloth diapers for my art towels.  They are super absorbent and washable and stand up will to all sorts of abuse!)

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Cover your fingertip with the towel and rub it over the surface to remove more paint.

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Continue removing paint until you are happy with the result.  I wanted my stars to look more silver than black so I removed most of the paint leaving it mostly around the seams and rivets.

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Use an ink blending tool with Walnut Stain Distress Ink to add a touch of brown to some areas of the star.  The brown will add a slight tarnished look.

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Use a heat tool to dry the ink on the metal.

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The ink will mainly stick in areas where there is paint or texture from the embossing folder.  You may want to use a dry cloth to lightly buff over the smooth areas to remove any excess ink so that it doesn’t come off later on your fingers.

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To add a hanging loop, cut a piece of silver bale wire to about 6″.  Create a loop in the middle of the wire and twist the ends together.  Create a knot in the bottom of the wire.

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Attach the wire to the back of one of the stars with liquid glue.  You may find adding a piece of adhesive tape over the glue helpful in keeping it in place with the glue dries and during assembly.

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Place glue on the tabs of both stars.

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Sandwich the stars together back to back.  The tabs on each star should adhere to the back of the opposite star.

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You may find it helpful to place clips around the star to help hold the sides together while the adhesive is setting.

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After the adhesive is dry, you can squeeze the star gently to pop it back out if it flattened during assembly.

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The mini star can also get the riveted look by simply placing it in the Riveted Metal Texture Fade and embossing it.

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Finish the small star with paint and ink like the larger star, left plain, or accented with Jet Black Archival Ink brushed over its surface.

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Like always, a few looks at the finished version.  I love how easily these stars adhere to one another.  The edges have a really nice finished look.


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The fold lines end up looking like welded seams that I think that really caps off the industrial metal look!

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I absolutely love the way the stars turned out and can’t wait to make more of these for my tree!



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  1. says

    WOW!!! I’ve been reading your blog through Google Reader for awhile but I think this might be the first time I’ve ever left a comment—sorry for not doing so a lot sooner because your projects are totally awesome—-just like these stars!!! And to think I’ve been on the fence about whether or not to pick up this die—-I know, can you even believe it!!! Thanks so much for these amazing photos and the tutorial!!!

  2. says

    This is fabulous Tammy! I love it! I was completely uninterested in that texture fade and die until I saw this tutorial. Now I must have the die in both sizes and the texture fade!

  3. Linda Priest says

    I saw these and immediately thought I need to make some for my daughter. She’ll love them!

  4. says

    Well there goes another wad of money at my LSS…. First the 12 Tags of Christmas and now this… well I’ll be a proud owner of a LOT of TH dies…. Can’t wait to start this project! LOVE!

  5. says

    Awesome stars! I love working with foil sheets, so far I only done cradles, <3-bag and corset bags, I must try this! Thanks for a great tutorial! :)

  6. robin swederske says

    My sons have a Star Wars themed Christmas tree and we’ve been looking for some stars to add to it. These are PERFECT! Thank you so much for a wonderful tutorial!

  7. Renee says

    Love these! I think they would be a very nice gift for some of those hard to buy for guys on our Christmas list.