Interweave Press just sent me a preview copy of this fantastic new book-with-DVD by Lisa Niven Kelly: Stamped Metal Jewelry. I was very curious to see what the artist/author had to say about the technique of stamping letters and symbols into metal, especially since it seems such a simple, straightforward process that hardly merits coverage in a 136-page book.
I just love it when my initial impressions are proved wrong... that means I've learned something new, and I love to learn! The contents of Stamped Metal Jewelry (SMJ) go far beyond what the title suggests. Besides providing 19 metal and mixed-media jewelry projects, a brief but inspiring gallery of stamped jewelry, resources, and a tools/materials section, this book does a very good job of laying out the basics of beginning metalsmithing and wirework. For this reason alone, I feel confident recommending SMJ to novice jewelry artists seeking instruction in these areas.
First, let me comment on the tools section: very thorough, well done, informative, important information is conveyed here. Experienced jewelry artists may feel that this chapter can be skipped, but I suggest having a look anyway—some interesting tools are discussed that may be unfamiliar to you. Consider the fun texture hammers and large wrap-n-tap pliers on page 12, tube-cutting pliers on the following page, hole-punch pliers, scribe, bracelet bending pliers, sanding sticks, and leather-working tools.
Now on to my favorite chapter segments: Basic Metalsmithing Techniques. The author addresses hammering and texturing first, suggesting the use of metal stamps for adding texture to metal besides the obvious usage of adding text or designs. She discusses using a riveting hammer and the ball end of a chasing hammer to create texture, and using hard metal objects and a brass-head hammer to forge textured designs into soft metal sheet.
Cutting and sawing metal (with a helpful blade-size guide) take up one page; hole punching and drilling (with another helpful guide: drill bits), how to dap (doming metal shapes), and riveting follow. I love the riveting section because the author carefully describes forming wire rivets, nail-head rivets, and tube rivets, with big photos making every step crystal-clear.
The metalsmithing section concludes with a discussion of oxidizing and polishing methods and annealing (softening metal with heat). If you read the book carefully up through page 31 and practice all the techniques presented, you will be well on your way to becoming an informed metal jewelry artist.
The "main event" follows: six pages devoted to stamping text and designs into metal. Lisa has been perfecting this skill for years, so naturally she has a few things to say about safety, work station set-up, the basics of stamping (alignment, centering, stamping with design stamps, and the author's own tilt-n-tap method—also demoed on the DVD).
That's the heart of the book, really, and if you read it carefully and follow the author's instructions, you can immediately start stamping metal with confidence. But we're just getting started: page 38 begins the projects section, with 19 jewelry designs from simple to more complex and challenging. Once you stamp a simple pendant, you'll be ready to try making an I.D. bracelet, stamped pre-fab rings, linked bracelets and bangles, stamped and riveted rings, a really cool textured metal pendant framed with coiled wire and beads, a leather cuff, and much more.
I really appreciate the author's inclusion of work from other designers such as Kriss Silva, Janice Berkebile, Lisa Claxton, Kate Ferrant Richbourg, Tracy Stanley, and Connie Fox. These artists contributed some unique ideas and jewelry projects you may recognize from the workshops they teach at bead events across the US, such as Janice's famed "Crown Jewel" pendant.
A short gallery and two pages of wirework basics finish the book, which is indexed. But wait—there's more! A 33-minute instructional DVD accompanies SMJ, featuring the author as she goes over the use of tools, basic stamping techniques, tilt-n-tap (very helpful!), and a bonus jewelry project not included in the book. You don't want to miss it. Although Lisa has covered her subject with great care in her book, sometimes seeing the basic techniques in action can really help make everything more clear. Be sure to watch the DVD, practice the basic techniques demonstrated, and you're ready to make beautiful jewelry using wire, sheet metal, leather, rivets, and more.
SMJ releases on July 27, and retails for $24.95. You can get it for $16.47 on amazon; click here to pre-order.