4th Grade Engraved Aluminum Musical Instruments

The good news is that this art project is almost no fail – yay. The bad news is that it takes a long time to get the drawing you want to use, engrave it onto the aluminum, then give it the patina and dark lines – boo.

Our 1st step was the active drawing pre-drawing. I set up instruments, real when possible, but posters of instruments otherwise. Then we divide the class into several stations for active drawing, and the students trace their fingers on all the details of the posters or trace slightly in front of the real instrument.

Even the best drawing looks a little plain without a background, so we focused on making our backgrounds as exciting as our instrument drawing. We really studied types of lines and incorporated them into our backgrounds and drawings.

The 2nd step is to fold your Paper into quarters, then pick 4 instruments to draw. The goal is to get one detailed drawing you really love out of your drawings. Also, you’re learning how to look and see details more clearly and translate what you see into a drawing.

I pre-cut the aluminum sheets to fit the standard copy paper folded into quarters. Then we taped our drawing on top of the aluminum and on the 2 sides.

We put a magazine under the taped drawing on the aluminum so we could engrave deep lines. Then we re-drew our drawings once with the drawing taped on, and then one more time without the drawing – just pencil on aluminum the last time.

We painted undiluted India ink on our completed aluminum engravings, counted to 60 silently, then wiped off the India ink with a paper towel. That gives the aluminum a beautiful aged patina and makes the deeply engraved lines black. The students loved seeing the transformation from shiny aluminum to patina’ed aluminum that looked like buried treasure that was just discovered.

The last step was to glue them on cut cardboard or card stock with liquid glue.

These were a hit with the kids and adults who saw them. Enjoy!

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