While copper sheets, also known as copper flashing, are often used in construction, you can use the same pieces of thin copper to make crafts such as home décor and jewelry. Thin copper sheeting lends itself especially well to leaf forms, since the elegant golden-red result looks like fall foliage, and you can easily manipulate the pliable copper to mimic leaves’ ridges. Make large copper leaves for elaborate art pieces or create just a couple of small leaves for a pair of stylish, inexpensive DIY earrings.
Trace around your leaves directly onto the copper sheet. Don’t worry about marking up the copper; if you use a washable marker or a dry erase marker you can just wipe away your marks after you cut out the leaves from the sheet.
Cut the leaves out of the copper sheet, following the outlines you made. You can use common household scissors to cut copper sheets, but if you don’t want to ruin your scissors, use tin snips. Cut slowly and carefully, going about ½ inch at a time.
Fold the leaves down the center slightly to mimic the appearance of the center crease of a leaf. Rub the back of the leaves with your pen’s tip to crease slightly diagonal leaf creases or to mimic leaf veins.
Sand the sharp edges of your leaves so they won’t cut you when you handle them without gloves.
A 26- to 28-gauge copper sheet is ideal for this project since you can easily cut and bend it, but it won’t easily tear, crumple or wrinkle like thinner copper foil would. If you want your copper leaves to be very sturdy, use thicker heavy duty copper sheets, such as 18- or 20-gauge. If you want very foil-like and delicate copper leaves, use 30- to 36-gauge copper.
Always wear sturdy, thick work gloves when you cut copper sheets. The sheets’ edges are very sharp.