For the last few years, the metal stamping trend has been on the rise. Companies like ImpressArt that started out small now offer an entire line of different fonts, blanks and just about any sort of tool you can imagine. So, of course, being easily distracted, I had to try it too.
Actually, I had tried it once before with little success. No matter how hard I tried, I could not get anything (and I mean anything) to stamp correctly. If one side was nice and deep, the other side was barely stamped or even visible. I used Sharpie markers to darken in my stampings, as most blogs suggested, but the results were mixed and I was extremely unhappy with the jewelry I was making. And forget about any kind of complicated design. They looked awful. So I stopped doing it. Because I won’t sell anything if I’m not happy with the way it looks. I was also tired of crushing my thumb with a heavy hammer. After all, a poor, mangled digit can only be expected to endure so much.
Then, at BeadFest Spring 2016, I had a chance to watch part of a demo given by ImpressArt. They were debuting a new, single-strike hammer. Perfectly weighted and designed, the hammer was supposed to provide good results each and every time. I didn’t think that was possible, but, like the sucker I am, I went home, got my Hobby Lobby coupon and bought one of these hammers, determined to give it a try. And then I didn’t.
The truth is, I was intimidated. I really didn’t think it would work. I also hated the idea of spending a fortune in blanks just to ruin them if they didn’t turn out. Because blanks, even aluminum ones, are not cheap. Then, for Christmas 2016, I received gift cards to Michael’s. Now, I’ll be honest. I don’t shop there much any longer for a number of reasons, but my local store was now carrying a small part of the ImpressArt line, and, with nothing better to spend the gift cards on, investing in the rest of what I would need for metal stamping didn’t seem like a bad idea. If it worked? Great. If not? Well, at least I hadn’t lost my own money and there really wasn’t anything better to spend those cards on.
So right after Christmas, I got my supplies, pulled out the old stamp sets, my bench block, and that hammer I had never used. I opened up a shiny, new pack of aluminum blanks and got to work. You know what? It worked! Not only was I making nice, deep stamps, I was making them consistently. Each piece, every time. And for that, I can only give credit to the single strike hammer because nothing else changed. I still hit the same way, I use the same stamps and the same bench block. The only difference is that hammer.
Emboldened, I started looking at online videos, trying to find a new way and better of darkening my stamps, too. And I did – with Vintaj’s metal patinas. I have the full collection so why I never thought of this before is beyond me. Maybe because I use patinas with the idea that that won’t come off? In any case, using the patinas gave me the deep, dark, consistent color I had been longing for without the “overflow” I always had with Sharpies or other methods.
As I grew more confident, I also started experimenting with more difficult stamps, ones with more detail that were, at least according to online blogs, harder to work with. That included ImpressArt’s “Hootie” stamp, which has been pretty popular around here.
And this weekend? My first batch of stamped bracelets goes into stores for sale. It’s a point I never thought I would reach, especially the day I wanted to just toss my hammer out the window. Now? I’m glad I tried again.