Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Getting started- materials continued

Here are a few things that are nice to have but not imperative to starting out.

sand bag- I currently use one and have found that it helps with the noise.

painters tape- So this isn't totally necessary, but I have found that it helps a lot. You don't need the "straight tape" or anything fancy. Masking tape or blue painters tape work just fine. Helps keep lines straight and keep your piece from moving at all while on the bench block.

design stamps- Again, this will depend on what direction you are going with metal stamping. Michael's carries a few designs, and so do many of the websites I will be listing in the "Helpful Sites" tab. Etsy is also a great place to find them :) Usually they run around $8-$15 depending on size and how intricate the design is.

dapping block- This is for making your blanks domed. Something I have yet to get into :)

ball pein hammer- Used for creating texture on your metal pieces.

disc cutter- This is if you wanted to cut your own blanks from sheets of metal. Eventually I'd like to get into this, but not for awhile (will do a post on this later).

Files- Not necessary unless you are cutting your own blanks or get blanks that haven't been deburred. Deburring is the process in which the rough edges of the blank are removed either by hand or with a machine. For beginners I recommend that you purchase deburred blanks.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Getting started- materials

So now that you've decided to try your hand at metal stamping...what now? Honestly, the first thing I did was Google, "metal stamping". It brings up a little bit of everything and takes some sorting. First thing, materials. You can either buy everything individually or a lot of places put together starter kits, which can save you some money. After looking around, I decided to purchase all of my supplies individually, so I could spread out the costs. I think in the end I actually spent more money, but over the course of about 8 weeks. My suggestion, if you can afford $120-$200 all at once for a kit, go for it. It will save you money in the long run and save you time, so your not driving all over to find the proper supplies. has a kit that has everything except for your bench block and hammer. There are plenty of sellers on Etsy that offer stamped metal kits as well. Here is a list and explanation of things you will need:

bench block- I tried a small anvil before and didn't care for it, so I use a 4"x 4" block. They also make a 2"x 2" sized block, I just liked having the extra space, but that size is fine for beginners. You will also see bench blocks that is both steel and rubber. The steel block sits inside a rubber base, so you can hammer softer metal without damaging it. You don't need it. *Note that if you do end up choosing one like this, take the metal block out of the rubber base before stamping or it will create too much bounce/movement and you'll end up with a shadow impression.

hammer- I started with a 1/2lb hammer. Which would have been fine for stamping softer metals like sterling silver and copper. But I had decided to use nickel silver, which is significantly harder than other metals. So I was told to use a 1lb brass hammer and I have been using that ever since. I purchased mine off of to save on shipping, but usually I buy everything from Etsy when I can. To save money, you can also use just a regular hammer that your dad, uncle, husband, etc. has in their tool chest. I have not tried it personally, but have heard it works just the same.

metal blanks- This can be a little overwhelming. Blanks come in all shapes, sizes and gauges (a whole post on metal is coming soon!). First you need to know what you want to make: jewelry, pet I.D. tags, bracelets, earrings, etc. Copper is usually a good metal to start with because it's softer and therefore easier to stamp.

sheet metal- This is a must have for practicing! You don't want to start using your blanks until you've gotten a feel for the stamps and the process. Believe me, I wasted SO many blanks starting out because I didn't want to spend the "extra" money on sheet metal. Again, use Etsy, or check out "Helpful Sites" tab for more suggestions.

stamps- Don't buy anything fancy off the bat. My advice is to buy a simple, economy style font and try it out. If you still love it, then spend the money on the fonts you love. Economy stamps can run anywhere from $18 to $40 depending on the brand and size. I use 1/8in (3.2mm) for most of my pieces.

hole punch- If you are going to be attaching your blanks for jewelry, you will need a metal hole punch. There are two kinds: hole punch pliers, which are quick and easy but only work on thinner metal
and a two hole punch for thicker metals. I use the two hole punch because I typically work with thicker metal than the standard 24 gauge.

industrial Sharpie or oxidizer- This is what gives your letters or design their black color and makes them stand out. I've tried both and recommend using the Sharpie method if you're just starting out.

polishing pad- These work great. Takes a little elbow grease but it will clean up your metal after you've used the Sharpie on it or oxidized it.

These are the necessities for metal stamping. Next, we'll go into all of the extras :)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Just starting...

Hello fellow bloggers! I am so happy to be debuting this blog for my business :)  Let's get to it! First up, how I got started. I was into my Etsy shop for about 6 months. I had been selling mostly beaded bracelets and doing the occasional custom order when I hit a dry spell. I know every shop/business has their ups and downs, but after getting a few hundred dollars in sales, I was pretty bummed. So this dry spell kept up for longer than I wanted, which could only mean one thing...something needed to change. I'll be honest, my shop has a little bit of everything, style-wise, and still does, since I haven't put up any my new inventory yet. So I did some research, read some articles (Btw, Etsy puts out some great resources for improving your shop. Check out my "Helpful Sites" tab for more info!) and saw a common piece of advice...are you ready? Customization. Sounds so simple, right? Give the option for customers to customize the product and, voila! Sorta like Field of Dreams, "If you build it, they will come".  So at the moment, I'm in the process of building it and let me tell you, it is one heck of a process. I decided on metal stamping. I could easily add it to my bead-work, it didn't appear to be difficult to learn, where as some beading techniques require classes and hours of practice to master. In addition, the start up costs were doable (I'll get into that later).

So where is this going, you might ask? Well, these first few posts will be my story of the process, dos and don'ts, what worked for me (and what didn't), info on metal types/sizes/gauges, and lots of information; the kind I wish I had all in one place when I started :) I'll also be hosting giveaways periodically and a fellow blogger has some stellar (and free!) marketing tips, so check back soon!

Until next time!