4th grade Engraved Aluminum Musical Instruments with Painted Frames

I created this hybrid project based on two other art projects that I like – the engraved colored aluminum Incan mask project, and the collaborative concentric square painted oil pastel project.  This was my first time teaching this hybrid art project so I learned a lot along the way.  Here we go!

This project is layered – drawing from observation, engraving aluminum sheeting, painting with tempera paint, drawing patterns with oil pastel, and learning about then immediately applying color theory.


First we folded our manila drawing paper (or anything thin) into 4 drawing sections.  Then we spent a couple of weeks drawing from musical instrument posters and drawing from a real drum and real guitar.  Just use what you have or can borrow from the music teacher. 😉  I set up 7 drawing stations and students could pick their favorite instruments to draw.  We picked our favorite of those 4 drawings, and drew a background to go with our instrument.

Then (after I cut aluminum sheeting to match their drawing paper size) I showed them how to tape down their drawing onto their aluminum sheeting.  Putting a magazine under our aluminum to give us the “cushion” to get really deep engraved lines, we first we used colored pencils to trace over the drawing and drawn background, but then found out that the lines from the colored pencils weren’t deep enough.


We then switched to regular pencils to draw over our original drawings to transfer the lines onto our aluminum – much better.  We hinged our tape at the top so we could lift our original drawing up and peek to see where we were on the aluminum and check out if the lines were deep enough.

Once the lines were deep enough, we got Sharpies and covered the whole aluminum sheet.  The students had to cover all of the silver with Sharpie slowly.  I demonstrated the difference between a solid coverage and a scribble scrabble coverage that left a lot of silver peeking through.  I also noticed that some students got confused and thought that they were only supposed to Sharpie their lines and leave the rest untouched, so I reviewed the coverage.


Once the Sharpie coverage was completed, we pulled off a small piece of steel wool (about the size of a cotton ball or just a little bigger) and rubbed it slowly in circular motions.  Wax on, wax off.  🙂  We discovered that if you rub it in a straight line up and down, you remove ALL of the Sharpie – lines and background.  Boo!

When the engraved aluminum musical instrument is finished, you center it on a pre-cut piece of drawing paper.  I showed them the right way to make the straight lines of the concentric rectangles (slowly, line by line turning the paper with each line.)  The tendency was to quickly draw the rectangles all at 1 time, but that gives sloppy rectangles.  I demo’ed both.


Once drawn, we painted high contrast colors with tempera paint.  Once that dried, we drew patterns on our rectangles with oil pastels.  I showed a weak line (where the background shows through) and how to change a weak line into a strong line (push harder w the oil pastel or go over it with the oil pastel a couple of times.)


We also reviewed color theory using the color wheel for contrasting colors (opposite colors – complimentary – on the color wheel give the strongest contrast, colors next to each other – analogous – give lower contrast.)  Once their patterns were drawn, I hot-glued the completed engraved aluminum sheet to the completed concentric patterned rectangles.



I love how they came out! I also love how this project covers so much ground with color theory and then practices it right away.  I hope you and your students enjoy this!  It takes about 6-8 class periods to finish but is worth it.  The students were so proud of their work, and I was so proud of them!




One thought on “4th grade Engraved Aluminum Musical Instruments with Painted Frames

  1. Pingback: 4th grade Musical Instrument Observational Drawings with Oil Pastel and Tempera Paint frames | Wow Art Project

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