A beginners tutorial

Our first Open Art session, we chose metal stamping.  

I love painting, but there's something really special about working with metal.
We choose basic zinc coated washers that you get from the hardware store.  I also had some blank dog tags and copper squares that were left over from a previous jewelry project.  The thinner squares and dog tags didn't stamp as well as the washers. 

Materials needed:

Washers of any size.  We used these.
Steel bench block
Metal stamps
double-sided tape
The metal stamps that we have in the studio are from Harbor Freight and Hobby Lobby.  They are relatively inexpensive (under $15) and come in a variety of sizes and scripts.  
they are never in alphabetical order
The bench block is important for making sure that you have a underlying surface that isn't going to "give" when you hammer on it.  In absence of a stamping block, try hammering your washer on smooth concrete.  We got our bench blocks from Hobby Lobby for around $11.00.

The double-sided tape is optional but it really helped to stabilize the washer on the block; the process was tricky enough without having to worry about the washer sliding around on the block.

The process:

Step one: Pick out your washer and secure it to the bench block using the tape.  We used our bench blocks on the floor.  I felt like the kids had a better success rate working on their knees verses sitting in a chair.  

Wider base of support and better core stability = more likely to hit the target.

Step two: Decide what you're going to spell and pick out your letters.  You can get really technical on how to space your letters and do the math to make sure that your word is perfectly centered on the washer.  

With the kids, we were just happy to get the letters stamped clearly!

getting all set up...floor, steel block, washer, letter stamp, hammer.
Step three: Hammer away.  You have to hold the post really-really-really firmly on the washer.  And then make sure it doesn't move.  And, you have to hit the stamp post squarely and with a decent amount of force.  In a perfect world, it only takes ONE strike.   Ha!
The instructors here found that our artist were most successful at striking the post if someone else was holding it.  We had them hammer it more than once in order to really make the letter "stick."  

Holding a metal post next to a metal block and giving a child a hammer sounds more dangerous than it really is.  Keep your fingertips curled under and it doesn't smart when they miss.

Really, my fingers are just fine.
one of our instructors holding the stamp for a young artist to hammer
Step four: Once you have your letters punched, use a sharpie marker to color in the grooves.  Wipe the excess marker off so that ONLY the deep grooves of the letters are colored-in.  

Step five: Finish with string, beads, and other adornments.  Some of our kiddos made necklaces and some made bracelets.  

We made paper beads for many of ours.

Have you ever made paper beads before?  Stay tuned for a tutorial for that project! 
example of our paper beads

Other Metals projects for kids:

Recycled Can Robots from Spoonful
String and Nail Art from Wedding Window
Painting on foil from Picklebums
Foil Figures from Mrs Knights Smartest Artists


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