Cold Cloisonne Holiday Painting

Karen Robbins is an art teacher who works in a variety of media. She loves creating artful pieces using the cold cloisonne process. In this segment, Karen makes a lovely holiday ornament cloisonne painting.



spray adhesive
design to fit the board
cotton wrapped button thread
craft knife
heavy-duty aluminum foil
typewriter eraser or pencil style
round toothpicks
gold leaf
gold leaf adhesive (spray or brush on)
soft brush
piece of velvet
shellac sealer
pearl powders, glitter, metallic powders
Envirotex Lite epoxy resin
clear cups
tongue depressors
stiff cardboard for spreading epoxy
palette with recessed areas or small cups with lids
paint (oil paint tubes, acrylic, glass paints, enamels)
polyurethane (for oil), polycrylic (for acrylic), glass paint medium (for glass paints), thinner (for enamels)
sturdy, flat box with lid for storing final project


1. Draw picture to fit the size of the board. Use spray adhesive to apply the picture to the board. Apply spray adhesive to the entire picture. Apply thread to lines; use a craft knife to cut threads. Using a bright-colored thread like red works best.

2. At this point you can add any thing with texture to the surface, like eggshells, paper doilies, sequins, decorative threads, etc.

3. Cut heavy-duty aluminum foil about 1 inch larger than the board and spray adhesive on the shiny side of the foil, making sure to cover the entire surface of the foil.

4. Lay out foil on a clean flat surface, sticky side up, and place hardboard down onto the board facing the sticky side. Fold excess foil over the back.

5. Turn over and press down; burnish with a soft cloth until you see the thread lines stand out. Continue to burnish using a stylus against both sides of all of the lines. Burnish using the typewriter eraser and larger eraser in bigger areas until all flat surfaces around and up to the thread are burnished down.

6. Add additional texture to the foil by using the stylus; be careful not to tear the foil. You can also use leather stamping tools or any implement that applies texture to the foil. Then clean surface with a soft cloth.

7. At this point you can cover with gold leaf (many color options available). Use a gold leaf size and follow directions on adhesive can or bottle. Burnish down using a soft brush followed by rubbing with a soft velvet cloth and seal with proper sealer (shellac works well).

8. Fill in recessed areas with paint. See below for different instructions for using oil, acrylic, glass or enamel paints.

Oil Paint: Put small amounts of polyurethane in palette or small cups with lids; add small amount of oil paint from tube with toothpick. I like to make two different values of each color to have one for shading (darker); you can also add just polyurethane to the area to lighten. Metallic and pearl powders can be added to the paint or to the polyurethane for a pearl effect. Make sure that you stir and mix the paint well or you will get globs of paint. You can also add glitter to the paint or put on top of the paint. You can swirl different colors together to get great effects. Clean with odorless turpentine. For larger areas, you can use a spoon or larger stick to fill in with the paint. Keep several cotton swabs on hand to wipe up accidental drips.

Acrylic Paint: Use the same process except use polycrylic instead of the polyurethane. Clean with water.

Glass Paint: These paints work great. Combine transparent with opaque. Transparent looks great because you see the glimmer of the foil underneath. It looks good when you combine them. If you want white, use acrylic or glass paints, because the polyurethane yellows in time.

Enamels: Enamels are great for large opaque flat areas. Follow directions on container.

9. After painting, you can add embellishments (rhinestones, beads, ribbon, etc.) using a heavy-duty glue.

10. For the final finish: Use a two-part epoxy resin and follow directions on the package. It is very important to follow directions. If you don't mix equal parts properly, it may never dry. Work on a flat, level surface or the resin will follow the slant. Spread over the surface and watch for dust particles. Use a toothpick to remove any stray matter. Use your breath to exhale over the surface--exhale not blow. The carbon dioxide in your breath pops the air bubbles in the resin. Work in a well ventilated room or area. Let cure according to instructions on packaging.

11. Frame your art, mount it, put in lid of a box...the ideas are endless.


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