Tole paintings and the art of decoratively painting objects made of steel or iron originated in France. Tole Peinte, meaning painted iron, refers to the tradition, the process and the decorated object.
Original tole painting entailed dipping sheets of iron or steel into molten tin, which was an alloy of tin and copper. A craftsman worked the sheets into the desired shapes, usually of household objects, applied painted designs and then japanned, or varnished, the objects. French, German and Scandinavian immigrants brought separate but similar tole painting traditions to America in the 17th century. Since the 1960s, tole painting has experienced a resurgence in the United States that has continued into 2015.