Friday, October 2, 2009

The old-fashioned art of Tin Punch

The Colonial days of early America were filled with the hard work of building a new life, home and nation. The pleasures and comforts of life were few and far between and difficult to come by. Tin punching was easily accomplished using materials that could be found around the home. Candlelight was enhanced with tin punched shades of different shapes and sizes. Tin punched panels that would let air in but stop the insects worked beautifully as screens. The Pie Safe provided a place to store baked goods while they cooled... the decorative tin punched panel protected the food while the hot air escaped. Finished Tin Punch pieces added appeal to otherwise sparse and modestly decorated homes. The Welcome placque shown here is from a 1983 Tin Punch pattern book.

So are you ready to give this wonderful craft a try?? The tools required for tin punching are simple and you probably already have what you need around the house. You'll need a lightweight hammer, a center punch, and a piece of plywood that is at least 1/4" thick. The plywood should be the same size or a little larger than the piece you will be punching. You'll also need some tracing paper to copy your patterns onto and masking tape to fasten the traced designs to the metal. If you want a satin finish on your completed project you'll also need some 0000 steel wool and any brand of dull or matte finish plastic spray. This Colonial Couple is from a 1983 Tin Punch pattern book by Jan Way.

A variety of metals can be used: Tin, Tooling and Decorative Foil, and heavier metals (.010" to .020" in copper, brass or bronze, and aluminum).The choice of metal and material thickness will depend on the effects you'd like to achieve. Copper and Bronze or Brass will produce a rich, lustrous finish. Aluminum and Tin can be finished with various antiquing finishes (don't be afraid to experiment). Aluminum is not a traditional tin punch material, but it won't rust and can be finished with a lovely pewter effect. What appears to be quilt blocks to the left? This is just an example of some of the amazing effects you can accomplish by combining your imagination, creativity and tin punching. You'll find these patterns in a 1984 Tin Punch pattern book by Jan Way.

The thinner materials will produce a more rustic effect. The heavier metals will give a quilted effect. Whatever your choice, you'll achieve the best effects if your punch tool is not allowed to heavily pierce the metal. Practice on some small pieces until you get the hang of punching... and experiment to see what effects you like the looks of best.

So what can you make? Lampshades, Candle Shades, Picture Frames, Placques, and many other beautiful items. Locating vintage pattern books for Tin Punch designs can be difficult but I currently have several Tin Punch books available in addition to wonderful pattern books for many other crafts. Please come and browse my selection of items at Stone Hill Collectibles. And don't forget to check out the "Free with Purchase" craft patterns (no minimum purchase required).

1 comment:

  1. I love watching a candle flicker inside a punched tin candle holder.

    When my oldest was little, she made a big candle holder from a coffee tin.
    They filled them with water and froze them and then punched the holes in them with a hammer and nail.
    When they were done, they let the ice melt and painted them.

    I still have it :)

    Organically Yours,