Generally, I look for verses, quotes or sayings that are a reasonable length. I run them through a character count to see which metal blanks they will fit on. From there, I space things out based on past experience considering the following ideas: how many letters I can fit per line of the blank, how large the fonts are, which words are more important (I like to make these larger), if I am going to add a design stamp (a heart or star, etc), and what will make the blank look the most visually appealing. From there:

 

I grab my blank. I have a few boxes of blanks. I order these online, mostly through etsy.com. There are incredibly talented people who make a living just cutting metal. I order different metals and different shapes/sizes from different suppliers. I have appx 8 regular suppliers for the blanks I use on a regular basis, then various other suppliers for special things.

 

I hole punch my blank if there is not a hole yet. I once used a screw punch and punch pliers, but they weren't strong enough. My power punch is awesome.

 

I lay my blank down on my bench block. My bench block is on a sandbag. The block is so I have a hard surface - the sandbag is to deaden the blow/sound. My desk is a heavy, boring desk, but it needs to be heavy so it doesn't wobble around - especially since I am stamping over carpet. Then I start stamping. I hold the stamp with my left hand and hammer with my right - one letter/image at a time. If I make a mistake, the blank is useless and I need to start over

     

Once the blank is stamped, I color it - it depends on the type of blank what type of coloring I use. Aluminum, for example, doesn't take any chemical dye really well, so everyone just uses sharpie (The Sharpie then gets baked at 275 degrees for an hour to set, but has been known to wear off after prolonged use. Just recolor if that happens!)

    

 

After the color has set, I pull out my dremel to polish. I put on my eyeglasses and mask, put some polishing compound on my dremel polish pad, and turn it on! Sometimes it takes several times starting and stopping to make sure I get the color stains off.  I then use a pro polish pad (you can buy these easily online) to clean off the piece. - Nice and shiny!

 

Then I toss the piece in a tumbler to give it a final polish and gleam.

 

Then I assemble the final piece (split ring, keychain, beads, necklace, etc.)

 

Then it is put in a box, wrapped with a ribbon, put in tissue paper, put in an envelope with postage, and shipped to your door!

     Tons of steps, but I thoroughly enjoy all of them - well, except maybe the packaging part! :) But I love the final result, so it's absolutely worth it.  The end result is that each piece is specially crafted from start to finish - from thought to how the words are positioned and the fonts and images used, to the individual letters and stamps being pounded into the metal, to the dying, polishing, tumbling, assembling and packaging - an incredible amount of love and care goes into each thing I make, and I am exceedingly proud of all my creations.

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