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Metals projects for kids

Hi, This is a little off subject, but I need some ideas for
metals,craftlike, projects that can be done with 11 -16 year old
boys IN THE WILDERNESS. Because I am a goldsmith, for the past 5
years I have been the designated craft guy for my 3 sons Boyscout
troop (50 scouts). Every summer in July we have a week long
summer camp in northern Wisconsin. I sit in a screened tent (no
electrical power) and do leather projects (tooled and not),
dream catchers, bead necklaces, wood carvings ect. Every year I
try to come up with a new project or two. The tent is packed with
scouts all day and night (we do have lanterns), so the projects
need to be fairly quick, maybe two hours total work time max.
quicker is better (this is the MTV generation). The projects
don’t have to be metals, but I thought that might be more up

Mark Parkinson

wire wraping tumgled or rough stones might be something to try.


I have been mentoring a 13 year old for the past few months. She
just finished a pin that was a shadow figure with various
sections sawed out of different metals, and riveted. The major
problem might be what tools to bring along.

Wire wrapping might make a good project- we occasionally get
bird points from clients that want to wear them as pendants.

Chasing designs in sheet metal might also work- making bracelets
out of strips, stamping a design, and forming them.

Carving waxes for later casting?

Rick Hamilton
Richard D. Hamilton, Jr

Tooling foils offer possibilities. It could be tooled using
sticks that the scouts manufacture “on site”. I admit that you’d
need to pack magazines or something to use as a pad. It could
also be twisted and squashed into different shapes as
sculptures. The theme could be changed to suit such as plant
motifs, Indian motifs, dwellings etc. Texture rubbings can be
made by embossing the foil over bark, sand,leaves etc. Of course
you can also make traditional rubbings with paper and the flat
side of crayons. I may think of more ideas latter. I have
taught grade school art so these sort of ideas pop into my head
pretty easily.I also had a friend who had her eight graders make
their own paint brushes out of yucca leaves which are easy to
find in our area. I suppose scouts could also make their own
charcole and then draw something. Marilyn Smith

I make braided wire bracelets–you could do this oput of niuckel
silver or brass; I use 24 guage twisted wire and braid it–you
could add beads–and add findings. I think the boys might find
this to be pretty cool. You can also use thicker wire and hammer

Mark, Perhaps you could try tooled copper pictures, decorated
with beads, glitter, markers,eathers, etc.The copper could have
holes punched into it for decoration, lacing with thongs, etc.
They could then be hammered onto scrap wood, which has been
either stained or colored with markers. The nails would form
decorative borders, on this makeshift frame. Spray lacquer
would preserve the shine of the copper, after a thorough cleaning
with steel wool. It would also hold the glitter, feathers and
other stuff in place. The copper can be bought in rolls from
hobby stores, but be careful!!! The edges are very sharp,
bring plenty of band-aids.


Dear Mark, There was a suggestion about forged aluminium
bracelets awhile back on either this list or Arttmetal I get
confused. A railroad tie anvil, some ball peen hammers and
explain the stretching idea and let em have at it. I’m going to
try this with my scouts and copper wire. My husband is an
electrical contractor so we have scads of scrap wire. Since
aluminium takes so long to work harden you might get away with
no annealing out there in the wilderness. Pit fired clay pots?
Air hardening clay was a big hit with the Cubs this years-self
portraits and there were some real good ones. If you’re set up
for wood carving, wood cut prints might work. I had good results
with this when I taught at the Boys CLub. Hope this helps!

How about stamped sterling silver bracelets? Stamp their
initials or series of story pictures, then hammer into shape
around a wood pole. Since silver is this season’s jewelry craze,
Mom will love this gift from her son, or her son will prize it as
a memory of this adventure. Maybe someone else has a better idea
for the type of metal you choose for kids.

Check with your craft store, lapidary or leather or bead store
for supplies, including metal strips, stamps and mallets (you may
have this last one).

Matching earrings in strips and slides or pendants for necklaces
can also get you the most raves for the shortest attention span.
For the mini-moguls who have no interest in sissy hand work,
explain how much (US$300-11,000) Steven Lagos gets for his silver
designs. (Show me the MONEY–J. McQuirre)

You may have done this before but when I was in scouts my dad
had some heavy sheet metal scrap. With that we we roughed out our
designs,anything you could dream up, with tin snips and finished
it out with a jewelers saw. Then we painted them. He started us
out with a stencil of a bird dog pointing. We then painted it
black and mounted it on a small wood block we had to smooth out
with sandpaper and stain. It made a neat shadow figure. After
learning these few simple things he then turned the designs over
to us. Anything we could dream up. It was really a lot of fun.
One thing, you will need a whole bunch of saw blades! Another
thing you can do after they learn how to use the saw is to
incorporate some punch work into their work. Not far from the
leather work. I have a very basic set of punches with Native
American designs. Simple, but many things can be made with simple
tools and cheap stuff. Michael Chapman

Are you going to pack all of your supplies in on your back or is
there going to be a supply truck? It would make a real
difference in what sort of projects you might want to do.If
weight is a problem, here are some none metal ideas.

  1. God’s Eyes…crossed sticks wound with yarns.The traditional
    ones are very symetrical but you can be “artier” than that.

  2. Wreaths made of vines such as bittersweet. Latter at a
    meeting back home it could be decorated with metal cut
    outs…maybe embossed foils which come in a varity of colors.

  3. Tell the scouts to collect small natural items that would be
    suitable for rubbings, pressing into clay to texture tiles, etc.
    Limit them to a total of say three items but allow them to
    barter and trade them with each other. This could develope into
    informal lessions about cooperation etc. Marilyn Smith

Thank you all for the wonderful ideas. I and the scouts
appreciate it greatly.

Mark Parkinson