Washer Jewellery- A Personalised Gift or Funky Statement Piece

I’ve always been fond of metal stamped jewellery, so a few years ago I decided to have a go at it. Currently I don’t have any of the fancy font metal stamps but they are on my wish list. In fact, the first metal stamps I picked up was from a local auto accessory store, I believe they’re used to name or tag tools etc. This is the cheapest option and the best one for when you are just starting out in metal stamping, as you may find metal stamping frustrating in the beginning until you get the hang of it (I know I did).

Yes, you can go ahead and purchase fancy font stamps and blanks online… if you have money to throw away… but trust me, this is something you need to practice for a bit and so you want inexpensive materials that you can waste, so to speak. Now inexpensive doesn’t have to mean crappy! I purchased tap washers from my local hardware store and got results that had people ordering washer bracelets from me (see some custom orders I made below under my small business name 3 Witches).

Custom made washer bracelet.
Custom made washer bracelet.
Metal Stamped washers made into bracelet.
Metal Stamped washers made into bracelet.

I will admit I went through a couple of washers until I was happy with the lettering. I was using an 8oz ball peen hammer which would have been suitable for blanks but I believe a heavier hammer is required for washers. You also need to be aware of the bounce, if you are not holding the stamp steady enough and you hammer more than one time, the stamp can bounce creating a “shadow” of the letter, effectively ruining your work. Washers, thankfully, are relatively inexpensive… and if you can get your hands on used ones, all the better for your hip pocket.

So what you will need to complete a piece like the pictures above:

  • Tap washers
  • Metal Stamp Kit
  • Ball Peen Hammer
  • Surface for hammering (I use a heavy, very thick wooden chopping board)
  • Sharpie (preferably black and fine tipped)
  • A cloth (for wiping off excess Sharpie)

Optional extras:

  • Waxed cord (for macramé wrist bracelet)
  • Cord (of your choice for a necklace)
  • Jump rings
  • Beads

Method:

Choose your washer (size, colour etc.) Make sure your hammering surface is study- my Dad constructed me a table to place my chopping board on out of an old keyboard piano stand with a study wooden table top affixed to it. Be aware that this hammering will be loud so be mindful of your environment (i.e. not in the middle of the night by the back fence next to the neighbour’s bedroom window). Choose your name or phrase or whatever it is you want to stamp and make sure you have enough room on the washer. Have a few practice goes first. You will need to bang harder on a washer than you would on a blank. Get a feel for how hard you need to hit to make the impression you want, get a feel for the “bounce” of the metal. Tap away until you are happy with your piece. Next, take your Sharpie, I found fine point works better than the thicker texta-like Sharpies as it gets into the grooves without getting much on the bits you don’t want it on. Originally I read instructions that said to scribble over the stamping with a Sharpie then wipe off with a cloth, but, particularly if you are not quick enough, it really takes quite a bit to remove the Sharpie from the rest of the surface of the washer where you don’t want it to be. I found that using a fine tip Sharpie is more practical, just colour into the stamping, it doesn’t matter if you get it where you don’t want it, just be quick to rub it off. This will make the stamping stand out.  Now your piece is ready to be made into a bracelet or necklace or keyring or whatever you like!

Stamping the name of a newborn baby onto a washer jewellery piece would make a lovely gift for a new mother or grandmother. A stamped birthdate would work just as well. A favourite phrase, band name, actor etc. would make a funky jewellery piece for a teenager. You are only limited by your own imagination (or that of your potential customer base).

Happy frugal crafting!

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