mary jane dodd
mj dodd 2016
tools seem to be constantly evolving for jewelers - there is much craft involved in each step of the process. one can buy things that are made or learn to make it themselves.
one of the things you need to ask yourself is what your vision for your work is. with more and more variety in stamps, you can differentiate your work from that of other sellers. this was very difficult to do even a couple of years ago. there were a rather limited number of design stamps and the alphabet stamps were even more restricted.
i use both alphabet and design stamps in my work. this post is going to cover alphabet stamps only. i'll do design stamps next time. design stamps are in a really interesting phase. they are being made by individuals out of rebar, nails, any steel base. and they are made one at a time.
there are alphabet/letter stamps available that range from economy, to mass produced designer fonts, to sets that are custom made. i have some of each. economy sets tend to be a basic font but are great to have.
impressart and beadsmith have started putting together sets with less basic fonts and at a higher quality than an economy set. here's a set from the website beaducation called lucida. a set is usually sold as upper or lower case.
i have an alphabet set that is custom made. to get this, i had to first purchase the rights to the font in order to have it made by infinity stamps. a very helpful company that puts out a great product.
the choices of sizes of stamps is growing as well. the standard is about 3-4mm. but there are sets that are smaller and larger. beaducation even sells single letters if you don't want to commit to a whole set.
if you want numbers, you will have to buy them separately. the impressart line offers coordinating number and alphabet sets. take juniper, for example.
they are even starting to add little decorative stamps in the sets.
i can get expensive quickly when you start to invest in these tools, so you want to take some time to look at the different fonts available to you. in etsy, i use 'alphabet metal stamps' in the search bar to find them.
to do the stamping itself, you need a brass head hammer and a steel bench block or anvil. personally, i like using an anvil. there are lots of fancy new gadgets to hold the stamps for you. made to protect your fingers (which i understand) i find they get in the way of my seeing the piece of metal i'm working on. instead, i use gorilla grip gloves for control. they are very lightweight and indispensable for keeping the stamps from slipping.
learn on copper - and try to work on 20-22 gauge. thinner metal limits the depth of the impression. look at how clean these letters look on 20 gauge copper.
like any other technique, it's a learning process. the more you practice, the better your impressions will become.