Friday, July 22, 2011

Sterling and Hammered Copper Stamped Pendant

I frequently see  women wearing sterling necklaces with one or more little charms spelling out their children's, husband's or pet's names.  I needed a baby shower gift so I thought I would give one a try.  I sure hope the mom I made this for doesn't change her mind about what she's going to name her baby girl!

My first word of advice: I am not a huge fan of filing, sanding, and polishing so unless you are a lover of all that, it would be much simpler to use pre-purchased blanks from Rio Grande,
Fusion Beads,
Rings & Things, or some other website you can find when you search.

I searched for Sterling blanks for stamping.  Rings & Things even had the washer style. The cost isn't all that great when you weight it against time spent sanding, etc.

I actually didn't have any blanks on hand so I cut one using my handy dandy punch set.

This set works pretty well.  I purchased it at my local jewelry supply store, but it looks like Harbor Freight carries the set on their online store. The only brand name on it is the name Lifetime Carbide. There is a lucite plate over a steel plate and you insert the sheet of metal in between the two layers.  I've been told it is helpful to insert another bit of metal of the same gauge back by the screws so when you pound the plug it doesn't gap and catch the blank.  I use a 3lb hammer.  You may want to remember that the flat end of the plug goes down and you hit the end that is tapered!  If you use the wrong end you may end up damaging the plug and it won't properly cut the blank.

Next I found the center of the plug.  I'm sure there are a ton of ways to find exact center, but I found that using my stencil with the center's marked, a straight-edge and a red sharpie to mark center is fast and easy.  I cut a second plug resulting in essentially...well, a washer.  Actually, I wonder if you could use these stamps on an actual hardware store washer! Give it a try and let me know how it works.  (You may have to heat those with a flame to make them soft enough)

I have an alphabet stamp set that is a pretty small font and works great for this small pendant.  Beaducation has over 50 stamp sets in different fonts.  They also have some cool videos on using their products as well. I've seen stamp sets range from $30 and run all the way up to $200 for fancy scripts.  If you search for Hand Stamped Pendants on the Internet you'll find several websites to offering to make these pendants custom for you.  They illustrate many of the fonts available.

After marking the center, I begin with the middle letter in the name and add letters to the right and left of it.  CAUTION:  Make sure your stamp is facing the correct way!  As evidence from the photo below I didn't.  Some smart person once told me to put a sharpie mark on the correct side of the stamp.  Hmm.. did I listen?  No.  Will I mark them all sometime in the future? Yes.

You could use Liver of Sulfer or stain glass patina liquid to blacken the letters.  For this piece, I simply colored them in with a sharpie.  The other two methods involve more sanding and by now you all know how I feel about that!  Anyone have feedback on whether or not that will last over time?

If your stamp bends the metal, a light pound with a rawhide mallet will flatten it nicely again.
You can punch and drill the hole for the jump ring or use this sweet little tool. As you can see I got mine from Fire Mountain Gems.  These screw punches are terrific.  One end creates a hole that is slightly smaller than the other end.  They are perfectly sized for jump rings. I use this bad boy all the time.

Okay, now for the filing, sanding, and polishing!  As you can see the cutter didn't cut this one perfectly and I needed to do a bit filing to get the excess off.  I also polish using a flex shaft with a variety of bits.  I don't ever know which one will be perfect for the job so I try several and use the one that works best.  
I tried searching and found a couple simple tutorials for polishing.  I think I'll save my comments on those for a other post!

How to Use a Dremel to Buff & Polish Jewelry

Read more: How to Use a Dremel to Buff & Polish Jewelry |

I do have one additional recommendation for working with tools and small objects that I know have saved my fingers time and time again.  These Atlas gloves protect my fingers from the heat of the metal, flying objects, and a revolving drill bit that is spinning at a very high speed.

To finish off my pendant I added a copper blank which I hammered with a ball peen hammer.  Attaching them both together make a great sound when worn together on a necklace.

Here's the disclaimer at the bottom:  I am not paid to recommend any product or websites cited above.  I also am a self taught metalsmith.  For those of you that have formal training or have tutorials available to purchase, please leave a comment if you see me doing something the hard way, the stupid way, or simply right/wrong.  I would love to learn from you.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing your experiences with metal stamping and I love your disclaimer and request for input. We learn so much from each other.