Still Learning from Lexi: 7 Metalsmithing Tips for Texturing, Stamping, Doming & More
I’m only halfway through watching Lexi’s newest video and I have to stop. It’s packed with tons of information and metalsmithing tips and techniques–so much so that I can’t fit it all into one newsletter. I love that after all these years and all her metalsmithing videos, I’m still learning from Lexi! So here are seven metalsmithing tips and ideas I learned from watching just the first half of her new video, Make Open and Hollow Forms: Dapped Necklace, Native American Pot and Metal Bead. I’ll share even more expert metalsmithing tips from the second half soon!
- You probably know about imprinting texture on metal with brass texture plates, but did you know you can imprint texture on copper and silver metal sheet by running it through a rolling mill with bathroom tissue, paper towels, or facial tissues like Kleenex? Lexi says that tissue imprints a beautiful soft, matte texture on the metal, or you can wad it up to create a more noticeable texture in one area. I’m amazed that something so soft can imprint texture on something as hard as metal. Remember not to use tissues that have lotion or aloe on them. You can also use Japanese rice paper and other handmade papers, lace, and other fabrics. Lexi says plastic items don’t work well, so avoid those.
- You don’t need a lot of expensive texturing hammers or a rolling mill to create beautiful, unique textures on metal. In her video, Lexi shares how popular Lexi’s Front Porch Texture has been through the years. Simply place your metal on a concrete patio, driveway or sidewalk, hammer it with a rawhide or rubber mallet, and voila! Lexi’s Front Porch Texture to use in your jewelry designs. Don’t use a metal hammer for this technique; it’s too harsh for hammering on the concrete.
- Use a 1- to 2-pound brass hammer for metal stamping. The weight helps create a good impression, and the brass won’t harm your stamps. Using Jeff Fulkerson’s Steady Stamp tool will help you hold stamps more securely, cutting down on the risk of blurred or double impressions–and mashed fingers.
- When layering metal, consider the busy-ness of heavily textured metals on heavily textured metal, vs heavily textured metal on matte or slightly textured metal and vice versa. Layering a heavily textured piece on another heavily textured piece will limit the visual effect of the top piece and cause it to “fight for attention” to stand out. Keep the background layer in a subtle texture if the overlay layer is heavily textured for a more visually appealing design.
- To get perfectly flat, well-finished edges on dapped/domed metal pieces (called hemispheres), Lexi has a brilliant idea. Use double-sided tape to secure sandpaper (she uses 30-micron Finishing Film from 3M) to your work surface. Simply press and swirl the hemisphere on the paper awhile, rubbing the edge across the grit of the finishing film to sand it down perfectly flat. Brilliant!
- When soldering a hollow form like two domed hemispheres together, you need to create a hole in at least one of the pieces to allow the gases that build up inside it during heating to escape. Otherwise, you run the risk of it exploding, which can destroy your piece and be dangerous. Use a hole punch, a flex shaft, or a drill to create a clean hole before soldering. Bonus: If you have a hole in both sides, Lexi shows how you can use a T-pin stuck through the holes and into your soldering brick to help the two pieces stay properly aligned while soldering.
- You can practically double your wire solder, and also be less likely to use too much, if you roll it through a rolling mill. This stretches the wire, nearly doubling the amount you have, and it also makes it thinner, making it easier to use just enough but not too much solder in your projects.
In Lexi’s video, you’ll also learn ways to cut out a perfect circle, every time. I can’t let that cat out of the bag, though–you’ll have to watch and learn that priceless bit of info from Lexi. She also shows how to work with decorative metal stamps to create Native American and other designs on metal, how to make metal “cabochons,” how to easily and quickly solder two domed hemispheres from the inside as well as overlay soldering, tips for storing and using bezel wire and wire solder, how to create tiny silver pots or vases (and larger ones, if you want), how to make a gorgeous necklace with multiple iconic designs, and so much more.
That’s all bonus information, on top of the tasks at hand: how to create open and hollow forms in metal. Order Lexi’s expert metalsmithing DVD, Make Open and Hollow Forms: Dapped Necklace, Native American Pot and Metal Bead or instantly download the video to skip the shipping cost and wait time!