Metal Stamping: Bring the Power of Words to Your Metal Jewelry

21 Mar 2012

I love the whimsy behind metal jewelry with inspiration stamped on it. "Dream" and "wish" and "believe" and some other encouraging words, and short Bible verses (or portions of verses, such as "Be still"), are always popular choices for meaningful stamped jewelry, reminding us to slow down, relax, leap, let go.

Metal stamping is such an easy, effective way to add personality and sentiment to your handcrafted jewelry. A few years ago, I ordered a sterling silver guitar-pick blank from Beaducation for my cousin's son for Christmas. He's an awesome musician and a super sweet boy, so I knew he'd appreciate the sentiment of having his initials stamped on one side and those of his dad (my beloved cousin, who had died a few years before) on the other side. It was a big hit with the whole family, and I know it brings him happiness whenever he uses it. I love hearing him play, and I hope it reminds him to never stop making music.

Sara's guitar-pick necklace.
Photos: Michael Richardson.
If you're new to metal stamping, you can learn how to make stamped metal jewelry with this fun little stamped-jewelry tutorial by Sara Richardson, a frequent contributor to Jewelry Making Daily and Step-by-Step Wire Jewelry magazine. Sara took a guitar class with a great group of people and wanted to make them all a personalized, meaningful (and practical) piece of guitar-pick jewelry. Here's how she did it.

Personalized Metal-Stamped Guitar-Pick Jewelry
By Sara Richardson

I wanted to attach a guitar pick to a chain, so if these nice people ever needed a pick all they needed to do was look around their neck. But how could I add that personal touch?

Add a Stamped Element
I had several sterling, copper, and brass blanks lying around my work table. I stamped the words "Guitar Guru" on one of them (for my teacher). I punched holes on the top and bottom. Then, with jump rings, I attached it first to the chain. I also punched a hole on the top of the guitar pick and attached it to the stamped element with more jump rings. I felt I had created the perfect gift!

 
Personalize Your Metal
Copper, sterling, and brass blanks are readily available, and stamping them with your own personal message or interesting designs is quite easy. All you need is a bench block, a household hammer, and a set of metal stamps. (Editor's note: You can even use hardware-store tools as metal stamps, as shown in this free stamped metal earrings project by Tim McCreight.)

First, to prevent the blank from moving around during hammering, you can tape it down with a bit of Scotch tape. Of course, it is important to hammer on a hard, stable surface. Also, to ensure you stamp in a straight line, you can tape a small, flexible ruler onto the blank with Scotch tape. Don't worry if you stamp over the tape. You can easily take it off later.

Second, make sure you hold the metal stamp with the notch against your thumb. That way, it won't stamp upside down (among other problems). Hammer directly on top of the metal stamp at least five or six times. If the letter or design didn't completely transfer, just slide the stamp back into the notch you created (you should feel it easily) and hammer it a few more times.

 
Metal-Stamping Tip: Put the stamps back after you're done using them. A lot of the letters look similar, especially when upside down and backwards. And more than once I have chosen the wrong stamp, resulting in ruined pieces. Since I started following this rule, the mistakes have drastically decreased.

 
If you want to darken in the letters, it's very easy. All you need is a thin black Sharpie marker and a polishing cloth. Trace in the stamped letters as best you can. After you're done, just wipe it off with the cloth. It'll take away any small mistakes and will help the marker settle into the stamped parts.

As you can see, it only takes a few minutes to make personalized jewelry for your family, friends, and other important people in your life!

You can incorporate these techniques for cuff bracelets, ID bracelets, and rings. You can link different shaped blanks together to form bracelets, pendants, earrings and more. Use stamped pieces as charms, or even create riveted pieces. --Sara

(See Sara's complete metal-stamping story here.)

For more versatile, easy, and fun metal stamping projects and ways to personalize your jewelry, check out Step-by-Step Wire Jewelry magazine. Back issues are on sale now in the Jewelry Making Daily Shop!


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Comments

on 19 May 2012 4:37 AM

In 2009 I started creating handstamped pet id tags. I didn't realize that there was such a high demand and my business took off like a speeding bullet. I sold to thousands of people all over the world  thru Etsy. During the first couple of months of my business, I found that I wanted different shapes for my tags but I came up empty handed. So, I drained my bank account, and created my own die system to cut out different shapes. I started with just about a dozen shapes and then that's when we thought that we would offer the shapes to others, like myself, who were wanting something different.

Not only did we have our own unique shapes but we developed a method for removing the burrs that you get with other blank makers. Since our original 12 shapes were born, we now have over 100, including a guitar pick in 2 different sizes and a guitar pick washer (very unique).

Handstamping is still BIG and we hope to continue creating new shapes in the very near future. If you are in the market for a super smooth blanks, please visit our new website at www.stampingoutloud.com