Metal stamping is a crafty way to express your
-Metal stamps- You can buy alpha-numeric stamps from jewelry tool suppliers or online catalogs; but Harbor Freight, a tool discounter with showrooms in many cities and an online catalog, has a simple, inexpensive set of metal stamps for 4.99 plus shipping.
-Anvil or Metal Block
-Manual hole punch or drill
-Fine line felt tip marker
-Sandpaper - 600 grit or finer (or use cushioned emery files like you find in beauty supply stores)
-Protective glasses - When stamping metal or performing any metal to metal activity, there's always a chance of a mishap. Protect your eyes with an inexpensive pair of safety glasses available at hardware stores.
-Metal blanks - These are exactly as the name suggests. They are simple blank metal pieces with room for stamping on words or textures. Some metal blanks come with one hole that makes them convenient for earrings, charms or necklaces. Others have two holes to create bracelets. Some come in decorative shapes.
You have a couple of options for metal blanks:
--Cut metal blanks yourself. If you know how to use a jeweler's saw or metal shears, create your own custom metal blanks in whatever size or shape you choose.
Order copper, brass, sterling silver or gold filled sheet from a company like Rio Grande or Indian Jewelry Supplies. A resourceful crafter may also find usable pieces of copper or brass at a local scrap yard. If you make blanks yourself, you'll need a manual hole punch or drill to add holes.
--Purchase blanks - A quick Google search turns up a number of metal blank suppliers for stamping. Rings & Things has decorative blanks in several shapes. A few Etsy shops sell handcrafted metal blanks as well.
-Optional supplies - earwires for earrings, jump rings or bails for necklaces.
-Select the metal blank of your choice, then decide what you want to say. Keep the message simple. Stamping letters on metal can be a bit tedious.
- To get the letter spacing and hammer pressure that's right for you, practice stamping a few letters on a scrap of metal.
-Remember, once you stamp a letter on your metal piece, it's pretty much permanent. You can remove it, but it will take a lot of filing, sanding and possibly hammering to correct a mistake.
Do a layout
-If you want the words you stamp to read vertically, draw a line to mark the center of your piece. (See #3)
-Mark a line where you will place each letter.
-You may also wish to write each letter where you intend to stamp it.
-For added placement precision, mark each metal stamp with a vertical line at the bottom-center-back. Match that mark to your center or placement line as you stamp each letter.
-A mark on your stamp will also help prevent accidentally stamping your metal with upside down or sideways letters.
-Lay out your letter stamps in the order you will need them.
-Once you've stamped a letter, move the stamp out of the way so you won't mistakenly pick it up and use it again.
- If you have practiced, you already know the force you need to make a good impression with a single blow.
-Hold your stamp upright as you strike it. If you hold it at even a slight angle, it may not make a complete impression.
-If you need help holding your metal blank in place as you stamp it, try taping the ends to your block or anvil.
-Don't get frustrated with stamping metal if your letters don't line up the way you expect. That's what happens when you create words one letter at a time.
-Like 'Wild Woman' in example #4, wildly placed letters actually look a bit more handcrafted, creative... and wild.
-If you want your letters lined up really neat and straight, take it slow.
Assemble your pieces
-If you made 2 metal stamped pieces, add earwires for a pair of earrings.
-Add a jump ring or bale and chain for a simple stamped necklace.
-Use jump rings to add your stamped creation to a bracelet.
Additional Metal Stamping Tips
-If you have a kiln or blowtorch, you can use heat to anneal your metal. The softening will make it easier to stamp.
-Use sandpaper to remove the guide marks you drew. They will also come off with alcohol and a cotton ball.
-If you have a tumbler or other mass finisher, use it to polish and shine your piece.
-Make your letters stand out by applying a blackening agent like liver of sulphur. Brush it on. Rinse it away after a few moments, then gently sand your piece. The blackening will remain in the recessed areas.
-For a less toxic blackening, complete the above procedure with black acrylic paint.
-In addition to alpha-numeric stamps, Rio Grande and other jewelry supply retailers offer a complete line of decorative stamps to enhance your metal stamping projects.