Friday, March 2, 2012

Stamping On Metal Part One

I have had a long love affair with putting words onto beads and then into jewelry. When I was working with polymer clay and making beads I created millefiori word canes. I loved being able to express myself with actual words through the clay. 

I made the transition from bead maker to jewelry designer a few years ago. Metalworking was new and fun and I eventually left the beads behind. 

When I began seeing stamped pendants showing up on Etsy I knew this was for me. Stamping on metal is just one more avenue to express yourself. There's infinite possibilities and ways of going about it. Imagery, as well as fonts can create a feeling or add emotion to a piece of metal that may not have otherwise been possible.

I love adding inspirational words to my work. The words speak to me not just literally but also on a deeper level. Words worn on my person, hanging from my key chain or even glued to a magnet on my refrigerator have lifted my spirit in times I needed it. It's always been my hope to bring that peace of spirit in any small or significant way to anyone looking for it. 

Besides being inspirational, words definitely have a place in jewelry. We want to look down at our wrists and see our children's names, the name of our best friend, family member, pet, favorite poem or verse. So many way to use stamps- the list goes on and on! 

So you want to stamp on metal. The very first thing you'll want to consider is what set to buy.  

Commercial or custom stamps? 

There are many commercially made font sets available now. And in a wide range of prices. The economy sets can run about $20. Whereas some others I've seen are $100 and up. 

Consider what your needs are. Are you just starting out and want to experiment with stamping? Have you been at this for a while and your looking for a quality set that you'll be using a lot for years to come? Are you on a budget? Do you want more than one set? Maybe a variety of fonts to choose from? 

They all stamp the same. Yes that is true to a degree. 

Some sets are not as deeply imprinted. This makes it difficult to stamp a letter without getting that little halo at the top or bottom. You might be OK with this and even think it adds charm and character. If that's the case, then go for whatever font that grabs you. 

Some economy sets I have found do not have even surfaces. This can make it difficult to get a full image or letter when stamping on metal. 

A quality made stamp will have an indentation on one end so that your thumb can tell your brain that the stamp is sitting at the correct orientation. This is important as not having that little bit of help can cause wasted materials if you are not focused. 

Even when you are focused it's easy to grab a b when you wanted a d or a c when you wanted an e. Always work when you are alert and fully awake. A lesson I have learned the hard way. Working at night when I am exhausted is a recipe for disaster.

If you use one of the economy stamps, you may just have to work a little harder at getting them straight and evenly imprinted. And that is perfectly ok. A less expensive set might be the right choice.

Higher priced, custom made stamps do have their advantages. I started out with an economy set. It was great for practicing and learning on. I am glad I have it. I'm also grateful and happy that I invested the money for custom made font sets later on. 

My custom made stamps are so much easier to stamp with.  They come in their own cases with foam inserts separating the letters. These are my favorite way to transport and travel with my fonts. We travel to the beach house every now and then and I like to bring my stamps with me to create jewelry while I am there. 

Custom made jewelry stamps will run almost $400 (including s/h) per set. That's either upper or lower case, not both. And then the number sets will run you about another $130. These sets are for someone who is serious about stamping and who is interested in a quality set.

If you want your logo made into a stamp they can do that too. When I had mine done it was $120.
 
I recently purchased a Cyrillic font set. I am glad this set was commercially available and was economically priced. I don't know how much work I will do with this font set so for me this set was a great deal even though it's not of the same quality as my custom font sets. 

Bottom line- A commercially available set is a good starting point. In my opinion cost generally dictates quality. So spend what you can and get a good set. These are some things to consider before you begin.

Next I will talk about resources and books to get you started. Please check back. I will follow up on this post as soon as I can. Thanks for reading! I welcome any comments. :)

7 comments:

  1. Your designs/creations are just gorgeous, Cindy.

    I hope you will pop by to help us bring 'angel love' for a young girl who is sick.

    Thank you.
    Have a beautiful PS weekend ~
    Marydon

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  2. what a great post, thank you! i am at that crossroads now, wanting a custom set to define my work...

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  3. That's great Maire! I can't wait to see what you do! I am a big fan of yours- as you know. :) Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I appreciate it!

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  4. They are fab, where do you get custom stamps from please? Thanks x

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  5. Great post, very informative and I know it will help a lot of jewelry makers.

    I love my custom font set too. It was worth the money, even if it was pricey, but the quality is unbeatable.

    Cheers,
    Nat :)

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  6. Do you have any suggestions of vendors to buy stamps from? I have heard that infinitystamps.com was good and beaducation.com has some stamps also. I have been wanting to try stamping for a couple of years now, but I have never been able to start, but now I am ready.

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  7. Hi there!
    Yes, I have a follow up post here: http://cindypack.blogspot.com/2012/03/stamping-on-metal-part-two.html

    Please stop by and let me know what you think. Thanks so much everyone!

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