Sep 042010
 

I love to stamp!  Letter stamps are a fun way to add character to a piece – you can make up a silly saying, or using something that’s inspirational.

It’s the pits, however, when you start stamping and either a) can’t read the letter on the stamp because it’s small, or b) accidently misspell or jumble your letters around (ever stamped a letter sideways?  doesn’t work!).  Well, here’s a quick and easy way to mark your stamps so you’ll never have that happen again!

I took some white nail polish, put a dab on the front (side that faces me when I stamp) of the stamp handle, and when the nail polish was dry, used a Sharpie to write the corresponding letter on the stamp.  When I go to stamp a name, phrase or word, I line up my stamps in the order I’ll be using them with the label face up.  This way, I can check my spelling, AND I know my letters will be going the right direction!

When you are stamping letters, use a medium tap with a hammer.  A dead blow hammer works best (no bounce back), but especially with single line letters (like “I” or “L”), if you whack it too hard, you risk cutting thru your piece.

Have fun!

Jul 142008
 

I’m working on some items that I think will be good for the county fair next week, simple things that are relatively inexpensive. I thought I’d share some ideas – I’ll update with some photos soon.

Silver-plated chokers from Fire Mountain Gems are a hard wire that you can add a pendant to for a quick necklace. I purchased two different styles, one has a ball that you can unscrew to slide on a pendant, the other has a thin chain to clip a clasp to, and it slides through a pendant bail. The only problem I’ve got with these is that the bail opening needs to be fairly large to accommodate the size of the wire, and I want to rethink that component before making too many more. Might do some dabbling in making some soldered bails instead of simple wrapped loop dangle.

I also made a bunch of discs from some of the re-purposed copper tiling I got from Mom & Dad and stamped them with metal stamps from Beaducation…I’ll use some of them for simple charms that can be personalized (using letter stamps from Contenti) and some for a couple of charm bracelets.

The discs are more labour intensive than you’d think – clean the copper (it’s got adhesive on the back, and some kind of coating on the front), cut out the discs, drill a hole to hang from, stamp, tumble, file, hammer, stamp…whew, I’m tired just thinking about it!

I’d gotten a new “Paw” stamp from Lisa Niven-Kelly (Beaducation) and made Rex a cute little name tag that he’s test driving. I think he likes the way it jingles against his other tags, LOL.

Finally, I made 6 copper bracelets using Beaducation’s bracelet blanks. Again, more work than you’d think just looking at them! I came up with 6 different phrases to stamp on the bracelets, figured out how to best lay out the text and stamped it. Filled in some design stamps, oxidized, drilled holes to attach clasps, made the clasps, formed the bracelets using a bracelet mandrel, and attached the clasp using jump rings.

Of course, this is only the start of the busy season. Thank goodness I have all of August to recover before the big shows start up!!!

Feb 282008
 

Lucky Irish Proverb Window Hanging

February’s Ornament Thursday theme was “Luck”. My contribution? A pretty ornament that you can hang on a window, a kitchen cabinet or anywhere else that you’d like a little inspiration from a meaningful (or fun!) phrase. I had so much fun making these as Christmas tree ornaments last year that I wanted to have some to hang around the house all year long!

My Luck of the Irish window hanging uses an Irish Proverb to inspire: “A Light Heart Lives Long” along with a pretty green glass heart bead that looks light when the sun shines through it.

So grab a copper disc, your stamping materials and a hammer…and bring some luck in through your window with this project!

For this window hanging, I first found an Irish Proverb that wasn’t too long and would fit on a 2″ disc. I planned out how I was going to place my proverb – sometimes lettering will be stamped more artistically, but because I wanted the prose to flow, I stuck to a linear, centered design.

When I stamp something, I first write out what I’m going to stamp on a piece of paper. This helps me to center it (or not!) and if nothing else, it helps me spell correctly!!! You can see my scrap in the first photo (upper right corner). I knew from writing it out that I wanted the word “HEART” in the center of the disc, and the letter “A” would be the center of that word. So my “A” went in the approximate center of the disc. (You can measure out and make it exactly in the center, but I decided not to.) After the “A”, I stamped the rest of the word “HEART”, and then moved down to the next word in the phrase. As you can see in the first photo, I again started with the middle letter in the word (LIVES) to get it lined up the way I wanted it.

Another hint when you are stamping letters is to lay out the stamps for the word you are stamping in order. Make sure you look at the stamp very carefully before actually stamping to ensure you don’t have your letters backwards or upside down!!

After all my letters were stamped, I added some design stampings for interest. You can also see that around the bottom border of the disc, I stamped “Irish Proverb” using tiny letter stamps. When using metal stamps, be sure you have absolutely no padding between your hammer and the lowest surface you are supporting your project on. I use a steel bench block on my kitchen counter which rests on a tiled floor. Believe it or not, using the same steel on a padded card table in a room with carpet was disastrous – my letter stamps looked good, but the design stamps barely imprinted on the metal. So have plenty of OOMPH beneath your block!!

A hole was punched in the top for hanging, and the disc was domed slightly, using a doming block. I also used a small file to even up the edges.

Next step (photo 3) was to highlight the stampings. Lisa Niven-Kelly (beaducation.com) suggests using a Sharpie marker, filling in all of the lettering and designs. I let the marker dry, then used a polishing square (also available from Beaducation.com) . I’ve tried using Sunshine and other brand polishing cloths for this, but they just don’t work as well. Lisa’s squares can be used for quite a few projects before disposing of them, and the small size (about 1″ x 1″) is really easy to use.

After polishing, I added a bail (using 16g wire threaded through the hole on the top) and a hook (use the instructions for an S hook clasp, but instead of a second hook, make an open swirl). Since I decided to add the green heart on the bottom, I punched another small hole, and added the bead dangle.

Make the dangle by threading the bead on wire, create a small swirl at the bottom of the bead and bend it up toward the bead. At the top of the bead, make a wrapped loop, and then hang the dangle from the disc using another wire bail or a jump ring.

As an option, pop the entire piece in a tumbler for 30 minutes to give a brilliant shine to the metal and further harden it. Hang in the window using a clear ornament hook.

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The other talented Ornament Thursday gals who are sharing projects today are:
Art Bead Scene
Lucky ABS! We’re part 2 of Lucky Knots!
Cindy Gimbrone aka Lampwork Diva
Luck is knotted up in Part 1 of this tutorial
Earthenwood Studio Chronicles
Melanie is inspired by a lucky Leprechaun to make a fairy tale, treasure filled necklace
Jennifer Heynen of Jangles
Lucky Charms Bracelet…The name says it all. This bracelet has everything to bring you good luck.
Joolz by Lisa
As Luck Would Have It…Lucky Earrings
Katie’s Beading Blog
Make your own luck with these fun, swingy earrings!
Labyrinth O’ Luck
Hali has created a finger labyrinth journal designed after a 4-leaf clover.
Linda Augsburg at Make It Mine magazine
Lucky doesn’t begin to describe the adventure I had making this T-shirt…
Lucky

Lucky to be… based on a coin holder a friend made for me…
Melissa J. Lee – Strands of Beads
Good fortune is yours with this cookie-inspired necklace.
Snap out of it, Jean! There’s beading to be done!
You’ll “make Jean’s day ” if you check out her lucky Pendant with a Clint Eastwood eighties twist Swelldesigner
Swelldesigner gets lucky this month with some super colorful, sparkly painted bangles
The Impatient Blogger Luck starts with a wish…Margot shares a project she created for Simply Beads last August.

GREAT projects…be sure you check back for the next Ornament Thursday, March 27!

Feb 272008
 

…will be posted right here tomorrow!

The theme this month is “Luck” and I counted myself lucky in getting my project completed early so I didn’t have to rush at the end. 😉

So grab some 24g copper sheet, metal stamping supplies, wire, beads and pliers, and be on stand by for the step-by-step instructions. Plus, I’ll have links to all the other talented Ornament Thursday gals’ blog entries…the sneak peeks I’ve seen today have been fantabulous!!!