I've been wanting to try metal stamping for a long time. I've seen so many cute projects: keychains, spoon placecards, garden markers, and all sorts of jewelry. I especially love the necklaces where the artist has stamped her One Little Word.
When I started my 40 Things project, I knew I wanted metal stamping to be one of the 40. I searched for local classes but couldn't find any. I looked into buying a set of dies on various jewelry websites.... way too expensive to justify. But then I heard that Harbor Freight sells very inexpensive sets. Since we have one locally, there wouldn't be any costly shipping. I added a set of dies to my Christmas list. I was only hoping for one, but Steve and Trevor surprised me with both a 1/4 and a 1/8 inch stamping set. Cool!
Rather than just leaping in and trying the metal stamping on my own, I thought about who to ask to join me. I've been making an effort to ask a wide variety of friends to join me for my various goals. That's a huge part of what I've loved so much about my 40 Things project. I thought my friend Rebecca would really enjoy it, so we made plans to get together in my icy garage and do some metal stamping.
We started by practicing on chipboard to get the feel of the dies, to work on spacing, and to become comfortable with the process. Then we moved on to more practice on wood pieces.
Using masking tape to create a guideline really helped.
We experimented with chalking our wood shapes, which worked out pretty well. Then I discovered that you could chalk the die before striking it and get a neat effect.
As we were digging through my bin of wood shapes (left over from my teaching days), we came across a bag of animal shapes. Rebecca had a fantastic idea, inspired by a family joke. Her 1 year old niece gets people's attention by yelling "BAH!" as loud as she can. Now everyone in the family does the same thing, cracking up whenever they do. She stamped BAH on a sheep, then added other animal sounds to the rest of the menagerie.
I found a rabbit shape.
Eventually, I moved on to metal stamping. I'd dug through the garage and the scraproom to find some interesting metal surfaces. After a variety of trials (and errors), I successfully stamped some metal tags.
Following the instructions on this extremely helpful metal stamping tutorial, I colored the letters with a Sharpie, wet a rag with rubbing alcohol, then gently wiped off the excess Sharpie. At that point, I learned that most of my letters weren't deep enough for the effect to work. Oh well!
As I continued to struggle with the metal, Rebecca came up with another brilliant idea for the wood shapes. Here is an apple to give to her daughter's teacher.
I think the next step in my adventures with metal stamping is going to be buying some proper jewelry blanks. The various tags, washers, and other metal items we had on hand weren't intended for metal stamping. I suspect I'll have more luck stamping on items meant for that purpose.
Thanks to Rebecca for joining me for a fun creative day, and thanks to Steve and Trevor for the dies. Goal #38 completed!