Saturday, September 24, 2011

Creating hand stamped jewelry

Creating metal jewelry has been my hobby for about a year now.  I have gradually accumulated tools necessary to make these unique pieces.  I take pride in using quality products and using as few pre-fabricated items as possible.  I wanted to share with you the steps I take and the tools I use to make my custom products.

Quality tools go a long way for making consistently great pieces.  After much thought and penny pinching, I purchased the Swanstrom disc cutter set from Rio Grande (can be seen at  At $265, it's not cheap but it is worth every "pinched penny."  I can make discs from 1/4 to 1 1/4 inch.  It cuts metal up to 18 gauge thickness.

Which brings me to metals.  I like to use sterling silver and copper.  I buy them by the sheet.  I prefer 20 gauge.  The biggest challenge for me is figuring out how to squeeze as many discs as possible out of each sheet.  :)  As a side note, I really wish they would have named this a "disc puncher" or a "disc hammerer" (if hammerer is a word) because there really is no "cutting" involved.  But moving on...

 Sheet metals, disc cutter with components, 2 pound brass mallet hammer, and the Bur-Life lubricant 

After you get your disc "punched" it's tumble time.  The brand I found to have consistently good reviews is the Lortone tumbler.  Apparently they found a pretty good model style back in the 70's and stuck with it.  And I'm ok with that.  There is nothing fancy about it but it does the job.  I use about 2 pounds of stainless steel shot.  See what I mean the terminology?  "Shot?"

Tumbler full of stainless steel shot and discs

Add the stainless steel shot with your discs to the tumbler with a little soap and water for an hour or two.

Lortone tumbler

 And viola!  You have buffed, shiny discs.

Buffed, shiny discs

Next is the fun and loud part....the stamping!  There are countless metal stamps out there of all sizes.  Letters, numbers, punctuations, symbols, etc.  You only have one chance to get that perfect strike.  This is the tricky part.  Getting spacing right, names straight, and a solid imprint are skills that come with practice.  And, in some cases, a lot of replacement discs!  One thing that's made it easier is my hammer.  I've fallen in love with my "small but mighty" hammer.  It fits perfectly in the palm of my hand.  I use one side to hammer out my letters.  I use the other side, with a rounded head, to create my hammered effect.

"Small but mighty" hammer, stamps, and disc
After the discs are stamped, I punch holes in the disc.  They have to have a way to dangle, right? 

Metal stamp hole punch

And finally, I get to add the finishing touches.  In this example, it happens to be a wire wrapped jewel and a necklace, pieced together by hand.  But that's for the next blog... 

Final product

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Coupon Code Collaboration, Bluegrass Style!

Ok, who doesn't love a good coupon?  I just downloaded some coupon applications on my phone to take the hit off of grocery shopping for a house with three men--2 little men, but hardy appetites nonetheless.  And I'm getting in to the idea for my shop.

And so an idea is born...Not my idea but a good one.  I am a member of the Bluegrass Etsy Street Team and one of the members suggested a GROUP coupon.  How fun?  So now you can support local Kentucky artisians and save 10% off hand crafted goodness.  So who is participating?  Glad you asked.  Here is the list:

Skye Blue
The loop designs
Earth Aria
Sweet Pea Murals
Glory Be Herbals

So go to and go to any of these pages to find jewelry, pottery, glass ware, fabrics, and more.  Then type in "BLUEGRASS10" at checkout for 10% off!  Enjoy and happy spring!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Stylish Blogger Award

Wow, I've been called a lot of things in life, but "stylish?"  I haven't heard that word since before I gave birth to my twins over 2 years ago...until a few days ago.   I was contacted by Kathleen of Lucille Jean because she gave me the Stylish Blogger Award!  She runs a cool shop on etsy, which in part, earned her the Stylish Blogger Award.  Thank you Kathleen!!  And now it is time I pass the love along.

*Stylish Blogger Award rules*
Thank the person who awarded it to you
Post 7 facts about yourself
Pass the Award to other bloggers and let them know they were chosen

1. Sometimes I go through 3 charms before I stamp it "just right."
2. I started selling jewelry after I bought all the supplies for Christmas presents.
3. I live on beautiful creek spot.  I would like to just watch the creek but now that I have two boys, I have to play in there with them and the crawdads. :)
4. I am (ridiculously) afraid of crawdads.
5. The orangutans are my favorite guys to visit at the zoo.
6. I use spellcheck...a to spell "orangutans."
7. Just like tomato and basil were made for each other, so is chocolate and...everything!

Passing the award to:
Sarah Mandile Photography
Earley Images
Tag Along Adventure
Anna Paint Me A Picture
Rhett Didn't Give A Damn
Chloe and Olive
Maefly Design

Now...go pass the love...

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Blog Love!

So for starters, I'm adding a few pictures of my latest projects (while I've got your attention)

Especially great for the silent bragging mom (like myself)


A little jeweled up...


And here is some blogging love for my fellow bloggers (to keep your attention).

That's all for now, thank you!

Business lessons

I have become a kid in the virtual candy store.  Now I want to buy a metal stamp for every person I know!  The paw print for the dog lover.  The bee for the bee keeper.  The footprints for the new mom.  The heart for the newlywed.  The list goes on and on.

I also, however, run a mental game with myself.  "If I sell a necklace today, I can buy a stamp."  I guess I learned from my husband who still owns a business but it is no longer his primary occupation.  He tells me to "put my money back into my company."  So now I'm learning business lessons.  I guess so long as I'm learning, that's a good thing right?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

For starters...

This is the final piece.  The final piece that will make me an authentic Etsy seller.  So the posts in the chat rooms say.  :)

I really hadn't given much thought to blogging because after all, what do I have to say that is so interesting?  Then I read a fellow Kentucky Etsy artisan who said, "I feel like I'm talking to myself."  I laughed because I knew that's how I would feel right now...and I do.  ha ha  But I was really interested to read her view point in all of it's honesty and genuine nature.   So I thought I would give blogging a try.  So now it's time to explore the joys and tribulations of blogging along with any other "newbie" bloggers.  (Am I officially a blogger now?)

I guess after all of this rambling a good place to start would be to tell a bit about myself?  I am a physical therapist at an outpatient clinic and my focus is the pediatric world.  All the time, really.  Because I'm also the mother to two beautiful, energetic twin boys.  Fortunately I have an amazing husband and a naughty, big white dog to round out our family portrait.

I have heard many people charge me with being "crafty" and I'm guilty for choosing to start art projects in lieu of housework.  I like to make things for my boys' room and to decorate our home and that is where Etsy began.  After I slapped an owl project started for a window valance for the boys on to a Christmas stocking, I sold it on Etsy.  And then the obsession began.  Since then I've sold hand painted towels, name art, stockings, and jewelry that I hand stamp.  I'm having a good time with it and after completing over 50 orders and close to 100 projects (with custom orders), I feel like I'm getting a good feel for how things run.  I really like the fact that I use quality material so I can feel good about what I sell.  The jewelry is my focus.  I want a mother to buy a necklace for her daughter and for it to last a really long time.  And have a really good story behind why she chose it...

Thanks for reading.