By Denise from LoveStoneArtsStamping can be stressful, partly because it is often custom work, and we want the customer to be thrilled with their order, and partly because it requires precision. I only stamp when I'm calm and focused and even then still sometimes make mistakes.
First, I make a paper practice template with the stamps to determine size and spacing using a slab of apple wood as a block to stamp the practice piece because it allows the letters to indent.
*Don't do the actual stamping on the wood slab!
When I'm satisfied with the paper version I cut it to the finished sized and use this as the guide for laying out the cutting lines on silver sheet or whatever metal you will use. Cut your metal to size. I usually use 20 gauge.
If you want to add texture to your piece do it now on the steel bench block.
I next do the sanding, filing, and preliminary polishing as well as punching any holes where needed.
Let The Stamping Begin
I have the paper patterns, stamps, a brass mallet, my jeweler's hammer, and a rubber block laid out on the work surface next to the steel bench block. I look at the patterns but have not tried stamping through the paper (this might just work for you).
Check the position of your stamp on the metal piece and recheck until you're satisfied that the letter is right-side-up and the spacing is what you want. Breathe deeply. Take your time. I don't try to stamp with just one stroke of the brass mallet but usually take 2 or 3 firm raps while stabilizing the silver piece and the stamp with my left hand. With practice you will get a feel for keeping the stamp from bouncing.
I figured out a way to work with kids on stamping. I stabilize the metal and the stamp firmly with both my hands. I have them hold the stamp above my hands with their left hand and they whack with the mallet in their right hand as many times as I think will give them the depth they need on their lettering. It works remarkably well; so well that I think I should enlist a helper for stamping all the time!
If your piece is curling you can flatten it out by tapping it face down on the rubber block with the broad face of your jeweler's hammer. If you don't have a rubber block, you can cushion the steel block with a rubbery silicon baking sheet to protect the face of your work. Complete stamping your phrase and repeat the flattening step once you're finished stamping. I usually only stamp one side but sometimes make two sided pieces by fusing several layers together. I haven't had a problem with putting the torch to a stamped piece; seems to maintain the detail just fine.
To dome a stamped piece I use a wooden dapping set to protect the pattern and/or lettering. You can carefully use a metal dapping set but you will lose a little of the detail.
You may darken the letters with sulphur oxidizing on silver or heat oxidizing on copper. I also use an industrial indelible ink.
We would love to hear your tips for creating great stamped pieces. Please share them below and perhaps they may be featured in another post.