I work with a lot of different media in my art. I love when they start informing each other!
I tend to use stamps nontraditionally anyways, amassing quite the collection for my clay sculptures. So when I had the opportunity to learn how to use those same stamps to make jewelry focals, it was a no brainer.
When you start, you have to be ready to have as many failures as successes because it's rather inexact in outcome (or at least at my skill level, which is beginner).
For this project, I chose RubberMoon stamps: David Brethauer's Leaping Girl, and Marylinn Kelly's Alter Ego (which you can see in the picture below, toward the upper right in the photo). You want mounted stamps for this project, to keep your fingers safe from the hot metal when you're stamping.
Other stamps which might work really well for this project:
I searched for simple lines - it seems that RubberMoon's David Brethauer and Marylinn Kelly designs are wonderful pieces that fit this activity perfectly!
Other supplies include:
- Copper sheeting. I've included a purchased sheet (to the left) and a piece of recyled copper (in the middle of the picture) - I prefer the recycled because it always seems to have more character, and can be cleaned up sparkly if you like with some 000 or 0000 steel wool.
- 000 or 0000 steel wool
- Lead-free Silver Solder....pricey, but you need that for jewelry. You don't have to have Silver, but you must have lead-free. Lead free can be purchased at most hardware stores.
- a micro torch and fuel for it . Mine is a Blazer Butane Micro-torch, but you can find a lot of different kinds by simply googling "jewelry micro-torch". Here's a board on Pinterest with lots of information on micro-torches
- A way to cut the copper - in this picture the blue handled tool. However, I've also found that heavy-duty kitchen scissors work just as well, depending on how thick the copper is.
- Cross-locking soldering tweezers (next to the blue handled tool). These are for picking up and/or holding hot pieces of metal. You can use regular tweezers if you already have them. Cross-locking are easier because you don't have to remember to keep the pressure on to hold the object.
- not shown: a small jewelry file or metal emery board for smoothing edges and corners of the cut copper. When you file, always file away from you, in one direction, not with a sawing motion.
- black permanent marker (can be cleaned off with fingernail polish remover or acetone)
- acrylic paint
- a heat resistant surface. Fire brick works. In my case, I use a kiln shelf with a fire brick on top.
- eye protection
- long sleeves and cotton clothing
- Trace around your stamp with your permanent market
- Cut the copper along the marker lines
- Smooth the edges and corners with your file or emery board
- Unroll a length of solder
- Light your torch
- Touch the solder to the metal and heat the metal not the solder. When the metal is hot enough, the solder will start to melt. You can direct the solder by moving it around on the copper, all the while continuing to heat the copper with the torch. The strength of your torch's flame will determine how long this takes.
- Once you have enough solder, turn off the torch, take your stamp and carefully press it into the hot solder. Hold for about 10 seconds. Remove the stamp - use your tweezers to hold the metal down as you do this. It will be hot. Do not touch with your fingers. Note: the rubber does not melt. Do not push the stamp quickly into the solder and make it splash - it is hot and will burn your skin.
- If you don't like the result, you can reheat and restamp. When you first start this, it is good to think "abstract" rather than "representational" for your stamps.
- For these pieces I used burnt sienna and black acrylic paint (not shown) to highlight the depressions and make the pictures pop. You can see that I used the MaryLinn stamp both for a large focal and a smaller focal. The David Brethauer stamp is small enough for earrings.
- Let the paint dry and then scrub with the steel wool. The higher ridges will shine up and the lower ridges will keep their color.
Now that you have several pieces, you can make the decision about how to use them. In addition to making jewelry, you can glue them onto cards, journal covers and journal pages to name a few alternatives.