Explore New Looks with Stamped Metal Jewelry
Do you remember the days when the coolest thing you could wear was an ID bracelet? That really awesome metal cuff with your name on it? Stamped metal jewelry like those bracelets were the best gift you could give your best friend or your boyfriend or your sister or yourself. We all wore them back in the day. (I went to high school about the time that dinosaurs walked the earth.)
ABOVE: Deluxe Jewelry Tools Stamp Set. Photo: Jim Lawson.
But there was one problem with the ID bracelets you bought in gift shops—they hardly ever had one with my name. Oh, there might be one or two that had “Carla” with a C. But my name starts with K. I would always look through the display racks, but only found my name once or twice. (But at least I did find it. That was never the case for my sister, Teckla. Or my brothers, Otto and Brandt. Yeah, my folks gave us all unusual, old-fashioned family names.)
So what do you do if you can’t buy a personalized piece of jewelry with a particular name? Simple! Make your own. Stamped metal jewelry is a great way to make any design your own.
And you can do a lot more than just ID bracelets and other pieces with names or words. You can find stamps with an incredible range of pictures and designs. And you can do a lot more than just bracelets—although I do love stamped cuffs.
Stamped Metal Jewelry
Of course, making a cuff is probably the best way to start working with metal stamps for jewelry. You have more metal surface area to work with as you pick your stamps and refine your techniques. One of my favorite stamped cuff projects is Jeff Fulkerson’s Flower Cuff from the September/October 2013 issue of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist. It’s a basic cuff that Jeff made into stunning designs with flower stamps. You can make your own unique creation simply by choosing different stamps.
But there are so many more types of jewelry you can create with stamps. If you want to try stamped rings, consider Jeff Fulkerson’s Stamped Bezel Ring or Kieu Pham Gray’s Stacking Rings with Stamped Messages. These two stamped metal jewelry projects show how simple or complex you can make rings with stamps. Again, selecting your own words or designs will change the rings to fit your own needs or desires.
If you want to go even smaller with your stamped metal jewelry, try making earrings. Yes, even small earrings can be made special with stamps. Take a look at the delightful Tracks of My Tears earrings by Aisha Formanski. She only used one crescent-shaped stamp to create the great teardrop design.
Or you can go in the other direction and go bigger. Try a stamped necklace. One I particularly love is Erica Stice’s Sparkling Like Moonlight choker. It combines stamped metal with an awesome drusy for an elegant look.
Jewelry Tool Stamps
I’ve talked a lot about selecting the proper stamps to make your design personal and unique. But if you’re a jewelry maker (and if you’re reading this, chances are very good that you are), what better way to make it your own than with stamps of actual jewelry tools? Yep! They exist. Impress Art just came out with a line of stamps depicting some of the tools we use all the time. You can get this set of five stamps in two new exclusive collections from Interweave and ImpressArt: the Jewelry Tools Stamp Set and the 10-stamp Deluxe Jewelry Tools Stamp Set. Both collections include the stamps, downloadable projects, and lots more.
If you want to see what you can do with these new tool stamps, look at Rita Pannulla’s Charming Jewelry Tools Stamped Bracelet. Rita is the Design Director for ImpressArt, so she knows. This delightful project is coming in the November/December 2018 issue of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist. Watch for it!
Stamped Metal Jewelry Techniques and Resources
As cool and simple as metal stamps are to use, there are certain techniques you need to master. And as with any jewelry-making technique, practice makes perfect. When I first started stamping, I discovered that my hammer blows weren’t hard enough. So my impressions weren’t deep enough. And I tended to hold the stamps at a slight angle. Wrong! But I soon learned to hold and strike the stamps correctly.
I also learned how to apply ink or patina to make my stamp impressions really stand out on my pieces. I do love patinas, and there’s nothing prettier than a lovely (correctly applied) patina with stamps.
One of the best resources I’ve found for learning to use metal stamps is New Stamped Metal Jewelry, an awesome book by Lisa Niven Kelly and Taryn McCabe. It’s a sequel to Lisa’s book, Stamped Metal Jewelry, which happens to be one of the first jewelry-making books I ever got and one of my favorites. My well-thumbed copy sits in a place of honor on the bookshelf next to my workbench.
The new book talks you through all the tricks and techniques you need to know to make perfect stamped metal jewelry every time. And it brings you 23 stamped jewelry projects which combine stamping with wire and metalwork. It’s a terrific reference book, and I know my copy will soon be well-thumbed, too.
So grab your stamps, some metal, and a nice sturdy mallet. And get personal!
— Karla Rosenbusch
Managing Editor, Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist