Friday, 11 April 2014

Metal Stamping tips for beginners

Recently I wrote about my foray into the world of metal stamping when I stamped some spoons to use as plant markers. Well, I haven't done too much stamping since except perhaps some stamping of the feet at times. :-) However, I have come across a few tips which might help others who would like to have a go at metal stamping and don't really know where to start.

When I first tried to stamp the spoons, I used an old shoe last which I put on some bricks and it did the job....
 ....but, as I had to bend over while stamping, it was quite uncomfortable especially for a 'senior citizen'. When one of my friends said she would like to learn the craft as well, she said she wouldn't be able to bend so I did a bit of searching on the internet to learn how others stamped and came across a great video on YouTube for beginners by Lisa Niven Kelly called Stamping on Metal. On this video she uses a bench block on the table so I then had a look around to see if they were on sale in Australia and sure enough, they were available from James's Place on eBay.

So I ordered a bench block from them which really saves a lot of bending. James's Place  is a great company to deal with as I received their products from Palmwoods the very next day and when I rang with questions about their products and about metal stamping in general, they were extremely helpful and informative. 

Unfortunately I discovered too late that, in my ignorance, I had bought products that really were a bit of a waste of money. Firstly, I had bought my metal stamps from the hardware store not realising that they are normally used for stamping tools for identification.

The stamp sets I should have invested in are made by ImpressArt or Beadsmith and they are a bit more expensive than the ones from the hardware store. They are usually used with the softer metals. However, one of the ImpressArt stamp sets called Newsprint is designed specifically to stamp on stainless steel and the harder metals. I wondered why it was easier to work with the silver spoons rather than those made out of stainless steel when I was doing the plant markers. I had to bang the stainless steel spoons a lot harder.

Also in my enthusiasm I had bought some items on eBay including stainless steel chains which should still be okay as I won't actually be stamping on them...

...and some stainless steel blanks to attach to the necklaces. These are extremely hard to stamp so I wouldn't bother with stainless steel blanks again. I didn't realise that the stamps come in different sizes so it is important to make sure that the metal stamping blanks you are ordering are large enough for the size of the letters. If my measurements are correct, the Bunning's stamps are about 5mm and the letters are too large to fit on the washer blank in the above photo. So, keep that in mind if you are thinking of ordering some blanks and check the sizes carefully.

I borrowed this book by Lisa Niven Kelly from our local library and it gives you some ideas about what you could design if you got bitten by the metal stamping bug but is a lot more advanced than her video which would be a good place to start for anyone starting out. 
I thought I would give you these tips about what 'not to do' if you are planning on buying tools for stamping as I have learned the hard way. If anyone is thinking about selling their metal stamped creations in the future, it would be well worth investing in quality stamps and blanks as they will produce a better product. 

I still have a lot of practicing to do with placement of the letters etc. but it is quite an enjoyable craft so let me know if you give it a try. Just don't buy stainless steel! :-)

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