Friday, June 3, 2011

Embossed Copper Book Cover

with Bonnie Julien

Instead of paper, let’s play with metal for a change. Working with pieces of 36 gauge copper foil we will create a design for front and back book covers using a ball tip stylus for dry embossing. Finishing techniques will include using a butane torch to bring out colors in the copper and using acrylic ink to add more dimension and color to the design. At the end of the workshop you will have completed covers for a book to be bound at the July workshop that will be taught by Dolores Guffey.
You will need to bring the following materials:
Ball tip stylus – available at Michaels, Jo-Ann Fabric, & Ellis Art & Engineering for about $4 or less if you use coupons.
• Cushion at least 8” square. A mouse pad or Fun Foam at least 1/4" thick.
• Illustration board. 2 pieces cut 4 1/2" x 5 3/4" grain direction does not matter.
• Pencil
• Bone folder
• Scissors – you will be cutting soft metal
Optional materials:
• Blending stumps (a 2-piece plastic set at Michaels is $1.99 and a 5-piece set made from paper is $4.99. Bonnie will have both of these sets available for use)or some similar round tip tool to aid in pushing in/out to help define the embossed design.
• Acrylic paints or ink (Bonnie will have black, walnut ink & other colors).
• Design patterns to use for your covers (no larger than 4” x 5”. Bonnie will also have design patterns available).
• Tracing paper
An RSVP by April 30 was necessary for this workshop due to the need to order the copper from an online source. Twenty people responded and should have already received an email confirmation from Bonnie as well as an email that contains the above information. Members who are not signed up for the workshop are still welcome. It is possible that there will be limited pieces of copper available either for a smaller book or at least scrap pieces to play with so please come even if you aren’t signed up.


  1. I am applying to architectural school. I am putting together a portfolio and am thinking of making a portfolio cover and back of Copper. My original thought was to have a graphic engraved by a trophy engraver on a piece of artwork that I will be producing, then to have my name water jetted into the copper. These book covers look great. I could use some help on doing mine. After the portfolio is bound, I want to put it into a clam shell case. I was thinking of having the case leather, but if I could make it out of copper, that I think could be way more cool. I have some time. I need to have the portfolio done by january 30th of 2014 and am still taking art/architecture classes now. I am building all of my artwork... let me know if someone can give me some pointers and help. I live in southern california. Dave Swann,



    1. Hi Dave,

      Your idea sounds great, but is well beyond the scope of the workshop we had or the sorts of things we do. We'd suggest that you continue to search online--there are many good tutorials out there, both written and video. Something is bound to lead lead you in the right direction.

      As a side note, have you come across Ceropegia's YouTube Channel yet? He's a bookbinder with some good tutorials, but also does copper work. He doesn't, however, use copper in his books, but perhaps there might be something there of interest? (I should add he has no connection to us--he's just one of many with bookbinding tutorials on YouTube.)

      At any rate, good luck with it!

    2. Thanks, Since doing my post I have decided to make the front and back cover of the book out of copper. I found a metal smith in San Diego that is going to do the art work on the covers. I will have it spiral bound and will use a metal coil that I will have brass plated. Should look pretty darn cool. The case of the book I am going to make out of aromatic cedar. I will have it engraved with a laser cutter on the top and bottom for the lettering and scroll work. I am also doing something special. I am going to put a sound module in the front cover. Kind of like the greeting cards, but higher end and better. I found a voice actor that does a Morgan Freeman impersonation. He is going to read my statement of purpose for me into the sound module. There will be a push button on the front/top of the case that will activate the sound module and start Morgan Freeman talking. I think it is about as good as I can do and cant wait to see it when it is done. Thanks for all of your help.

    3. "Pretty darn cool" indeed! That's going to be one impressive portfolio! Good luck on your application. And thanks for returning to let us know what you decided to do.

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