What you REALLY need to Stamp Metal Jewelry
If I had to choose one thing that I have done over the years that took my business from hobby-level to full-blown 6 figure sales it would be adding personalized jewelry to my line. I started offering name and initial jewelry about six years ago. I had two friends approach me wanting name necklaces and I honestly had never even looked into it, but decided to jump in with both feet and see what I could come up with. I bought a kit from a jewelry supply shop which came with a bunch of random stuff that I didn’t need and/or was was way more expensive than buying else where. Like, I think I got some sort of plastic rubber mat that was $24 or something. So silly. Anyway, here’s how you can get started stamping for well under $100.
Sturdy tabletop: when I started it was at my kitchen table, which works just fine.
Steel bench block: you really need this. The hard bench block helps you achieve a nice deep impression on your softer metal blank. ~$14
Letter set: I recommend starting with a 3mm arial style. ~$12
1 lb ball peen hammer: nothing fancy this is just for pounding and will get all scratched up and marred. I think I bought my first one at Home Depot and I still love it. ~ $15
Blanks & Jump rings: I recommend starting out with copper because it’s nice and soft and cheap and stamping can take some practice. 24 gauge 5/8″ is a great size and weight! ~$15
Hole punching solution: one of the twist-down style is probably best for a beginner ~ $8 – $ 80
chain nose or flat nose pliers: to open and close jump rings ~$7/ea
Sharpie: Black $1
Pro-polish pads: you can also use steel wool and a jewelry polishing cloth ~$10 and should last you a few months!
Safety goggles: to protect your eyes. ~$3
Once you have collected the above you are ready to make your first piece!
- Start out with a copper circle blank on your bench block.
- Select a letter stamp. You’ll want to hold the hammer in the hand that you write with so if that’s your right hand then you want to hold the stamp in your non-dominate hand. Decide where you want to stamp the letter on the circle. (I would recommend stamping around the bottom edge when you’re starting out. Stamping across the middle of blank or circle is a little more tricky.)
- Place the letter stamp (letter side down) on the stamping blank. The letter stamp should be perpendicular to the blank. Now you will want to give it a good tap the top of the stamp with the hammer. Don’t move the stamp, but angle it slightly to 12:00 and tap again. Angle it slightly 6:00 and tap again, then 3:00 and finally 9:00. So essentially you want to give it 5 good taps in 5 directions. This will ensure that you get every side of the stamp impression evenly.
- Repeat steps 2 and 3 moving right with each letter until you complete your name, word, or phrase!
- Mark the middle of the top of the circle with a sharpie so that you know where you would like to drill for the jump ring. Drill the hole using your favorite drilling method. (If you try to drill first, before stamping, you’re going to end up with a crooked name every time!)
- (If you prefer to not darken your font you can skip this step!) Use your sharpie again and color in the letters. If you’re selling your jewelry you’ll probably want to get a more permanent solution for oxidation…but if you’re just practicing or making them for yourself or gifts the sharpie ink works fantastic and can last for years!
- Use your pro-polish pad to wipe away excess ink and shine up your charm. Alternately you can use steel wool and a jewelry polishing cloth. The polish pads are really amazing unless you get them wet, then they are just a mess.
- Add a jump ring to your blank. Viola! You have a name charm!
Now, stamp all of your friend’s names, you cat’s name, the name of your favorite actors, your teachers, your nicknames, your unborn children’s names, and anything you can think of to practice. You’ll be a pro in no time!
Tips and tricks
- If you want to stamp across the middle of a disc draw a line with your sharpie slightly below the middle to give you a guide. It will wipe right off with your polish pad.
- Each stamp set is different. Maybe the A sits higher than the rest or the B needs to be rotated clockwise to the right a few degrees. Make yourself a cheat-sheet for each stamp set you have.
- Shine up your disc before stamping so that you can see the reflection of the stamp in it get a better idea of where the impression will land.
- If you’re using a large stamp or an intricate design stamp you might want to add a tap at 1:30, 4:30, 7:30, and 10:30 in addition to the 5 taps detailed up in step 3 to give you 9 taps total.
- Don’t stamp 2 letters and assume you’ve messed up. Keep going. Sometimes things miraculously balance out!
Now that you have all you need to get started in the cheap, look at all the fun extra stuff you’ll
want need in my future post.