Screw Portraits

Have you noticed just how many portraits are made with paints and brushes? They are, of course, great, but there are other ways! Like with …er screws and other metallic materials. Sounds strange but they look great and are easy to do!


Difficulty Level:

1.5 paintbrushes

What you need:

We have given you examples of what we used, but you can choose your own. Gather all the small metallic things you can find.


These are instructions for a cat portrait, but you can choose to do whatever you wish.

  1. Cut a piece of cardboard to use as a canvas. It can be whatever size you wish. We have made ours 20cm by 30cm.
  2. Now you can paint your canvas. Hint: If you are not using white card you might want to paint a layer of white paint, so that your colour will show up better.

    Leave this to dry then paint a layer of your metallic paint, if using. Leave this layer to dry as well.

  3. While it is drying you can start your portrait. Draw the outline of a cat on your aluminium foil using a permanent marker pen. Tip: You could do this free hand, or use the method in the Tiikat Portrait activity if you wish.
  1. Cut out the cat shape.
  2. Using a hot glue gun, or other strong glue, attach the foil cat to the cardboard canvas. Hint: Make sure the paint is completely dry first!
  3. Open up a split pin and glue it to the cat’s face in the middle. It will be the cat’s nose and whiskers. Tip: You may want to cut some more of the pointy parts of another split pin and glue these too to make additional whiskers.
  1. Add googly eyes to your cat so it can see! Hint: If you don’t have any, then you can draw some eyes onto paper and stick them on.
  2. Add some feet. We have used some ring pulls from the tops of a can, but you could choose to use anything metallic, for example screws
  3. Decorate the rest of the portrait. We have made some fish friends for the cat and added some paper clips to frame it.
  4. Using a holepunch make a hole in the top of the portrait. Now feed a paper clip through it and use this to hang the portrait.

Further Activities

You could try doing more portraits on canvases now that you have practised with one. We have made a robot and a sheep, for example, created using the same method.

  • We have used some nuts and bolts to act as buttons and screw hooks as the robot’s antennae.
  • The sheep’s legs are made of screws!

What do you think of our screw portraits? What else could you do a portrait of?