Creating distressed metallic elements in your art journal

Hello again Get Messians, it’s Karen here with a super fun tutorial using shoe polish, tin foil and glue. Yes I know, the main staples of your art supplies I know! Stick with me though this will turn out very cool.


So you are going to need some lightweight cardboard to make your design on. I used some cardboard from a food box. Something like a cereal packet would be perfect, let’s work some recycling into our Art too! You’ll also need some glue. The glue part is very important as this will create your raised image. You will need a thick glue like a tacky glue or fabric glue. I did try this with PVA glue but it was just too thin and watery and the design dried completely flat, no Buenos. A glue gun would be good if you’re confident enough with it. What you want to be left with is a raised line when the glue is dry.


You’ll draw some designs on the cardboard with your glue. You can draw anything at, I’d recommend sticking to some simple shapes until you’ve tried it out and keep your lines a good distance apart, you’ll see why shortly. Wait until the glue is completely dry, it needs to be totally hard for the next step.


So now you’ll need a glue stick and some tin foil. You can use either the shiny side up or down, totally depends on you. I’ve gone with shiny side down. Tear your tin foil a little larger than your design and cover one side completely with your glue stick. Don’t be shy you’ll need a good covering to get it to adhere.


Place your tin foil over your design and using a cotton bud (I know my cotton buds are way cooler than yours but don’t be too jealous ok?) trace all around the edges of your design and be firm about it. You want to mold the tin foil onto the design well and cover it totally.


Here are all of my designs, covered in tin foil and rubbed over with the cotton bud


So now you can take out the shoe polish. That’s not a sentence I use every day! Black polish works best for this technique and the cheap stuff works just fine. It’s a little smelly so keep a window open next to you if you can. I’ve an old duster we keep for polishing our shoes to rub it off afterwards but a piece of kitchen towel would work just as well.


Spread a really good layer all over your design. Don’t worry if it seems to much you’ll be rubbing it back with your cloth afterwards.


Once you’ve spread a good layer of polish over your design you can begin to slowly rub off the excess polish and push it into all the little nooks and crannies. Do this a little bit at a time so you don’t wipe it all off completely. We’re going to a kind of distressed old metal look here and it can take a little bit of trial and error. You can always add in more polish if you take too much off.


Once the polish is dried the smell goes away and you’re left with your amazing design. You can cut them and use them as I have as decorative elements on a journal page or anyway you’d like. I think some writing would look really cool as well.


Karen is an Artist. She arts like a boss and believes that you should too. Karen loves Poppies, triangles, colour and hand lettering. She’s all about the process and loves to complete pages that take days to make and ones that take minutes to make as well.


  1. Sasha Zinevych

    Cool! They look like liquid metal!

  2. Gilly Welch

    Such a great idea, thanks Karen!

  3. Vanessa Oliver-lloyd

    oh wow! This is a super fun idea!

  4. Nel Wisse

    An amazing idea !! I’ll begin to create a bouquet as soon as possible.
    Thank you so much for this fun and easy inspiration.

  5. Tanyalee Kahler

    How cool. I love it when I discover unusual tools and techniques. Thanks Karen!