Exploration of Transformation
Designed for grades 4 & 5
Fine Art
s, English Language Arts, Reading, Science
Formal Lesson Plan and TEKS Information

Activity One: Watch and Learn

Activity Two: Embossed Metal Butterfly

For this project you will need:

  • Aluminum baking/catering pans/pie pans
  • permanent markers (black and others)
  • burnishing tool (I used an old metal spoon)
  • Scrap cardboard
  • Acrylic paints in bright colors, mod podge, paintbrushes (optional. permanent markers create a beautiful effect if you don’t have paint)
  • craft scissors (Use your worst pair of scissors. Do not use your nicest of scissors.)

Disclaimer: these pans have the potential to be really SHARP, and artists should proceed with care.


  • Each artist needs a piece of cardboard as a work surface. This will enable you to emboss the metal.

  • If you want to create a symmetrical design, fold the metal like a hamburger, and then loosely smooth it back out so you can still distinguish the two distinct halves of the work surface.

  • Draw a LARGE outline of a butterfly, utilizing the whole pan. I like to use the centerline of the pan for the location of my butterfly’s abdomen, and then I attempt to draw mirror images of the wings spreading out from the body. Add just a few interior details.

For the following steps, be sure to keep a piece of cardboard under the metal. It is essential to have a somewhat soft surface under the metal so the metal has the opportunity to stretch and bend.

  • Using a blunt tool, trace over the drawing, applying medium pressure. I used the end of the spoon handle. It takes some practice to find the right amount of pressure to use. I want to make sure I am bending the metal, without tearing it. This should produce a raised version of the drawing in the underside of the sheet.

  • Flip the sheet over and then use the curved part of the spoon to round out the butterfly wings into the desired relief shape. I have the best result when I place my thumb inside the curve of the spoon and then press down onto the metal in small, circular motions. This gradually stretches the metal and puffs it out into a nice, round curve. It is so satisfying to watch the metal change shape and start to look like a metallic balloon butterfly!


  • Flip sheet over again and use the spoon to flatten the metal on the OUTSIDE edge of the butterfly so it can lay somewhat flat on the table.

  • Use a dark sharpie to add design details.

  • Use a glaze made of 1:1 paint/mod podge mixture to add color to butterfly: the paint should not be totally opaque. The goal is for light to still reflect off the metal through the paint. If you do not have paint, then the butterflies can be colored with a permanent marker with a very beautiful effect.

  • After you have painted your butterfly, set it aside to dry. If desired, you may choose to cut out the butterfly. This would require close supervision because the aluminum pan is VERY sharp. Also, cutting aluminum will RUIN a pair of scissors, so make sure you are not your best pair!

What will you do with the butterfly now? Will you display it on your wall? Hang it from a string? Create a mobile?

What other projects can we make using what we learned about embossed metal art?

Submit Your A-Plus Work

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    The Alliance is compiling projects for an online gallery of completed projects. Share your work to inspire others! You can also email your projects to info@wichitafallsarts.org

Activity and Lesson Plan Designed by: Amber Day Scott – Program Coordinator, Wichita Falls Alliance for Arts and Culture