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Hand Stamping 101
Basic Hand Stamping
If hand stamped jewelry seems like a mystery to you, hang on and we'll show you just how easy and fun it is to do. With just a few tools and some helpful information, you'll be on your way to making some great hand stamped creations of your own. Follow along below as we dive right in.
*Hammer (16 oz or more)
*Letter Stamp Set
*Hole Punch Plier
*Pro Polish Pad
*Black Permanent Marker (Sharpie Brand)
These tools are available from our Etsy store:
Step 1: (see PICTURE 1)
Place your metal disc (also referred to as a blank because they now come in a variety of shapes and not just discs anymore) on your steel bench block. We recommend beginning with nickel, copper or brass blanks. They are much more affordable than sterling silver or gold filled. A 3/4" 20 gauge Nickel Silver blank has been used in this demonstration. The blank was stamped with a 3/32"/2.5mm Uppercase Letter Set from our Blue Classic Series. You can also purchase metal practice squares that will fit perfectly on your bench block. They provide a great way to practice so you can get the feel of your stamps and tools and build your confidence.
Take your letter stamp (also referred to as a letter punch) and place it about 2mm from the edge of your disc. Hold it upright and firmly in place while giving it a good and solid strike with your hammer. Most people recommend striking the stamp only once. Some will strike two or three times. Whatever style works for you is great. Practice and see what is most successful for you. The important thing to remember if you strike more than once is to keep it firmly placed on your blank so you will avoid making a double impression.
Step 2: (see PICTURE 2)
Choose the next letter stamp and again line it up 2mm from the edge of your blank. You will want to place it right next to the previous letter without leaving any gaps of space between your stamp and the letter. This is a tricky part to figure out at first! You can adjust your placement position if you prefer the letters to be closer together or a little farther apart. This is a personal preference kind of thing!
Step 3: (see PICTURES 3, 4 & 5)
Now it is time for the magic to happen! After stamping your word or design, it is time to darken the impression. Take your permanent marker and darken in the impressions you have created with your stamps. No need to be too neat with this step! Make sure all the impressions are filled in with ink.
Step 4: (see PICTURES 6 & 7)
Take a Pro Polish Pad and rub over your inked impressions using an up and down motion with a good bit of pressure. Rub over entire piece until you have removed all of the excess ink and are satisfied with the result. The Pro Polish Pad will leave your blank with a beautiful shine. Another super easy way to remove the ink is to use fine steel wool. Many stamping artisans use this option. I love to use steel wool and like the "brushed" effect it creates. You can even use the Pro Polish Pad after you use the steel wool to make it even shinier. Try both options and see what appeals to you the most. Hint: The steel wool is a little faster if you are in a hurry or have many to do. When using steel wool, wipe over your blank in one direction for a more uniform finish.
Step 5: (see PICTURE 8)
You are almost there! Now it's time to mark the spot where you want to hang your jump ring so you can slide your creation on a chain or attach to a bracelet or some other fun thing! Determine where the middle of your word/phrase/design is and place a mark up above on the top of the blank.
Step 6: (see PICTURES 9 & 10)
Take the Hole Punch Plier and line it up with the mark you have just created to insure correct alignment. Squeeze the pliers firmly until it pops through the metal. TIP: Hole Punch Pliers can sometimes mar your blank around the hole they create. To avoid this, place a piece of clear plastic over your blank before popping the hole. The clear plastic still allows you to see your mark for proper alignment but provides protection for your blank.
YOU DID IT!
Now you are ready to attach a jump ring and wear your creation with pride or give someone a wonderful gift!
There are many other tools you will want to have in your collection but I have shown you the "basics" of stamping. Many people prefer to cup their blanks slightly instead of leaving them completely flat. You can accomplish this with a Dapping Block Set. It's also fun to add texture to your blank with a trexture hammer or use a ball pein hammer to hammer around the edges. And don't forget that you can really add some fun by incorporating riveting into your creations. It's super easy to master. Just take a look at our riveting tutorial on the right side of this page. BE CREATIVE. HAVE FUN!
Riveting with Nail Head Rivets
Riveting is a quick and easy way to connect metal (and other materials!) without having to solder. It is sometimes referred to as a cold connection. It is possible to make your own rivets with wire but our nail head rivets are super handy and a huge time saver. We have rivets available in sterling silver, oxidized brass and copper. Ready, set, let’s go!! Follow along below as we dive right in. FYI - cap rivets, which are commonly used on leather, are not included in this demonstration.
A few tools and materials are required:
*Rivets (obviously!!) We will use ¼” oxidized brass nail head rivets for this demonstration.
Oxidized Brass Rivets - http://www.etsy.com/listing/80589159/14-brass-nail-head-rivets-pack-of-25
*Hole Punch Pliers – 1.5mm is the ideal size for riveting with all of our nail head rivets. However, these pliers will only punch holes in metal up to 22 gauge. They are awesome on our blanks and super easy to use. But…If you plan on riveting items to one of our bracelet blanks, you will need our Two-Hole Metal Punch. The bracelet blanks are very thick (16g and 18g) and you’ll need the power the Two-Hole Metal Punch provides.
1.5mm Hole Punch Pliers - http://www.etsy.com/listing/81986296/hole-punch-pliers-15mm-these-are-the
*Two-Hole Metal Punch – See note above. These are awesome and glide through thick metals with ease. They are not as quick and easy to use as the plier style but they are without question a MUST HAVE in my book, especially if you will be working with thick metals – an investment you’ll be glad you made! WARNING - The 1.5mm Hole Punch Pliers will NOT work on the thick metal bracelet blanks. You'll need this Two-Hole in order to put holes in our bracelet blanks.
*Two-Hole Metal Punch - https://www.etsy.com/listing/95213486/two-hole-metal-punch-160mm-and-230mm-116
***Riveting Hammer (FYI - another hammer option - some people like using the peen end of a chasing hammer to strike the wire and cause it to flare and form a mushroom).
*Flush Cutter - http://www.etsy.com/listing/83357555/flush-cutter-comfy-grips
*Steel Bench Block (Our 4" steel bench block was used in this demo.) - http://www.etsy.com/listing/76909995/steel-bench-block-4-x-4-x-34
These tools and supplies are available from our Etsy store:
5 Easy Steps
Punch the holes in the items you wish to rivet. Use the appropriate tool listed above (either the Hole Punch Pliers or Two-Hole Metal Punch).
Picture 1 shows the 1.5mm Long Reach Hole Punch Pliers punching a hole in a copper flower blank.
Picture 2 shows the Two-Hole Metal Punch being used to create a hole in our 16 gauge Brass Bracelet Blank. Use the 1.6mm side. It has a silver colored twist handle and makes the smallest of the two hole choices offered on this handy dandy tool!
Stack items to be riveted on nail head rivet.
Picture 3 shows a square brass blank that has been hand stamped and is now ready to be riveted. A brass flower will be attached to the front. The decorative flower piece has a slight domed appearance that will flatten during the riveting process. Using curved or domed pieces is okay! It will look great when we are finished!
Picture 4 shows a leather stacked design with a washer added to the back. A washer needs to be added to soft materials like leather, fabric, plastic, etc. in order for the rivet to work.
Trim away the excess wire from the rivet with your flush cutter, leaving about 1 – 1.5mm of excess wire remaining. (Note – if you are working with a soft material such as plastic, leather or fabric, add a washer before you trim away the excess wire.) See Picture 4 above.
Picture 5 shows the excess wire being trimmed away. You want to make sure you have enough wire left to make a nice "mushroom" like head. The wider your mushroom head, the better and stronger the connection.
FYI - If you are experiencing problems with your wire bending over instead of mushrooming, that may indicate you are not trimming your wire short enough. If it's left too long, it tends to bend. Practice will make perfect with this step!
Place your creation on a Bench Block and use the thin and tapered end of the Riveting Hammer to tap the remaining wire. (Note – you may want to lightly sand the wire to ensure a flat surface.) Rotate your piece about 45 degrees as you make each tap, going all the way around. You will notice the wire of your rivet begin to form a mushroom. Continue taping and rotating until the mushroom is fairly flat and tapped out.
***See note above about using a chasing hammer instead of the riveting hammer.
Picture 6 shows the excess wire as it starts to be tapped with the riveting hammer. (I left a little more excess wire than I should have! LOL But it still works well in the end!) So, if you leave a little too much wire, you can always snip a little more off. If you snip too much off to begin with, you'll have to use another rivet.
Picture 7 shows a mushroom starting to form at the tip of the excess wire.
Picture 8 shows another glimpse of the mushroom starting to appear as the wire spreads out as you tap it. Don't forget to rotate it as you tap. You can rotate your design or rotate your hammer. Just rotate it!
Picture 9 gives a glimpse of the leather flower design with the washer as the mushroom starts to form on it. Without the addition of the washer, the rivet would not hold due to the softness of the leather.
Picture 10 shows a mushroom starting to form on the end of the rivet wire on a bracelet blank project. If you are riveting a piece with a directional design on it and you don't want any movement while riveting, tape your piece down. The flower on the other side has a name stamped on it and I didn't want any movement during the riveting process so I taped it to the bracelet blank.
You can use the flat side of the Riveting Hammer to flatten and smooth the rivet head. Lightly brush your thumb across the rivet. If it feels smooth to the touch, you are done. If it is not, continue to flatten or lightly sand until it is smooth to the touch. That’s it. You are done!!
Picture 11 shows the flattened mushroom. The wire mushroomed out well and I was able to use the flat end of the Riveting Hammer to hammer it more. Sometimes I finish up by using the peen side of my chasing hammer. Don't be afraid to explore with this technique and see what works best for you. Try using a chasing hammer if you have one. Some people prefer that method but I learned with a riveting hammer and use it. Experiment and see what works! Your riveted piece should be on securely with no movement. If there is movement, do some more tapping and hammering.
Picture 12 shows the rivet after I hammered with the flat end of the Riveting Hammer.
Picture 13 shows the 3/4" brass square with a rustic looking brass 16mm Beaded Flower Washer riveted to it. It was stamped with our new "Verona" 2mm Uppercase Letter Set. So adorable!!
Picture 14 shows two leather flowers layered with our rustic looking brass 13.5mm Fairy Petals element. The leather can be dyed or painted beforehand to create a unique element to any project. This could be attached to one of our bracelet blanks for an outstanding and unique design. So many options with our products!!!