If I Had a Hammer: 5 Tips for Stamping Metal Jewelry

When people ask what I do for a living, I usually tell them I'm a beader. It always gets those silent little brain wheels turning…"Did she just say she was a beater?" My out-loud spelling, "b-e-a-D-e-r", plus a quick air-sewing gesture usually quells any concerns. But really, my journey into jewelry-making did kind of start with beating: Beating metal into submission using smithing techniques.

The beauty of having both beading and metal-smithing experience under my belt is that I often combine the two into one multimedia project. What I've found when I teach those multimedia classes is that the students, who are usually more used to needle and thread, broaden their faces and their eyes light up when I bring out the hammers. Across the board I see that most people (especially the women!) find something wonderfully cathartic about the power and sound produced when smacking metal on metal.

With this general joy of hammering in mind, I was pleased to see Lisa Niven Kelly's new book, Stamped Metal Jewelry arrive on the bookshelves. In it, Lisa describes not only the proper way to stamp metal with letters, numbers, and designs, but also how to texture, saw, punch, dap, rivet, and oxidize metal. It's a great book that's full of projects to get your hammering ghoulies exorcised.

Talking Smack

Using a hammer and metal stamp to tap designs into metal sheets or findings is a great way to personalize your designs. Here are a few tips to help you along the way:

Settle down

When I teach I can tell who has been having a bad week…they often hammer their metal sheets or findings into unrecognizable bits of rubble. If you've found you're having a week like that, it's probably best to take out your hammering aggression out on an old wooden board. Once you've calmed down, head back to the jewelry bench and channel that same power, but use a little restraint.

  Keep it straight

It's important to keep your stamp perpendicular to your metal sheet as you hammer it. This way the weight of the stamp will be equally spread and you'll get a more true impression.

Think Goldilocks

If you hit the stamp too lightly, you'll only get a light impression and it will be difficult to see, even when oxidized. A too-hard smack might register the edges of the stamp, and that's just unsightly. So while you're hitting the stamp, think Goldilocks and hit it Just Right.

Rehammering's Okay

Sometimes, you'll tap a design and it doesn't quite take. In Lisa's book she shares her "Tap and Tilt" method, where she'll hit a stamp in the middle, then, keeping it in place, tilt it slightly to the right, hit it again, tilt it slightly down, hit it again, etc., until the design fully takes.

Explore many ways of stamping metal jewelry by diving into Lisa Niven Kelly's new book, Stamped Metal Jewelry. Learn metal stamping, texturizing, and test your skills with loads of fun projects.
Are you like most of us and get a kick out of hammering? Any more tips for stamping metal? Please share your ideas on Beading Daily.

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