domenica 17 giugno 2012


I'm clearly on a major metal stamping kick right now, but I've still got projects, so why stop now? This is a cute and unique way to label your plants, using old silverware that you could easily get from a thrift store.

  • antique spoon (Modern stainless versions don't stamp well at all.)
  • metal stamps (Mine are from Evie's Tool Emporium on Etsy!)
  • nail file, steel wool, or fine grit sandpaper
  • permanent marker
  • heavy rubber mallet

1. Place the spoon face-down against a very firm surface. Using a heavy rubber mallet, pound the back of the spoon until it is completely flattened. I found that setting the spoon atop a towel on the concrete worked better than a countertop or table.

2. Count out the letters in your word. Mine has six letters, so I marked six equally-spaced dots with permanent marker. These dots are to help you line up and space your letters properly when you begin stamping. Don't worry about ruining your spoon with permanent marker; we'll remove it in the last step.
3. Beginning with one of the middle letters, carefully place your stamp over the corresponding dot. Be sure that the letter is facing the proper direction, and then firmly whack the top of the stamp once with your rubber mallet or hammer. As you can see from the photo, I hit mine too hard, leaving a circular impression around the letters.

4. Using a permanent marker, completely fill in each letter. This will create a patina look to make the letters really pop against the silver surface.
5. Using a nail file, steel wool, or very fine sandpaper, gradually buff away all the permanent marker using a small, circular motion.Finish by wiping away all the dust and marker residue to polish it to a shine. Stick it into your plant, and voila!

You may have noticed this one a few weeks back when I guest posted on Ucreate! In case you missed it that go-around or didn't click through to Ucreate, here's the full tutorial:

  • sterling silver disc
  • brass or copper disc
  • metal letter stamps
  • dapping block and punch
  • steel bench block
  • hammer or heavy rubber mallet
  • jump ring
  • sterling silver necklace chain
Step 1. Decide what you would like your disc to say. Count the letters in the word or phrase to determine which is the middle letter. I like to start at the middle to make sure the word is centered. My disc will say 'blessed,' so I started with the 's.'

Step 2. Place your sterling disc onto the steel bench block. This absorbs the shock of the hammer's blow and allows for a deep, even impression. Be sure that your stamp is right side up, and position it at the bottom center of your disc. Holding the stamp firmly in place, strike it twice very firmly just as you would with a nail. I have heard from people who know far more than I do that it is better for your stamps to use a heavy rubber mallet.

Step 3. Position your next letter next to the first. You can set the stamp in place and then tilt it back a bit to check the reflection to see where the letter will fall. I like my letters to be fairly widely-space, but you can put them as close or far as you'd like. Repeat until your word or phrase is complete.

Step 4. Place your brass or copper disc into the largest well on your dapping block. It is essential to begin with the largest well and gradually move into smaller wells to prevent your disc from skirting from being forced too suddenly into another shape.

Step 5. Very firmly hammer your punch while constantly moving it around the circumference of the disc and gradually rotating inward until you've reached the center. When you have formed the disc into the shape of the first well, you can move it into a smaller one and repeat the process.

Step 6. Continue dappping your disc until it has taken on a sufficiently domed appearance.

Step 7. Thread the sterling disc onto a jump ring. Next, thread the brass or copper disc onto the same ring over the sterling disc. Be sure that the dome is facing upwards, sort of like a little roof over your sterling disc. Close the ring and thread it onto a sterling silver necklace chain.

The domed disc can be rotated on the jump ring to reveal a hidden message beneath! This would make a really thoughtful gift for the woman who already has everything in the world or could even be made into a keychain for a man's gift.

BOTTONI?? si ma di solo legno!! - riciclo & creo

took full advantage of winter break at my parents' house. They have a spacious garage chock full of every tool imaginable, and I was in heaven. I took the dogs out for a walk to the park one afternoon and found a couple perfect branches, so I couldn't pass up the opportunity to make these darling little buttons!

  • hardwood branches
  • small hacksaw or table saw
  • fine-grit sandpaper
  • safety glasses
  • drill or Dremel
  • thin, sharp object or pencil
  • wood polish (such as Johnson Wax or Pledge)
  • soft cloth or paper towel
1. Begin by using a sharp tool or a pencil to mark the intervals where your buttons will be cut. You want them to be relatively thin, but they should not be so thin that they risk snapping. I found that they should be at least 1/8" thick. I marked next to my notches in yellow so that you can see them more clearly.

2. Cut the end of the branch using the hacksaw or electric table saw. The project is admittedly far more tedious when sawing by hand, but I wanted to show that this could be done without any major tool investment. If you do have an electric saw, I would recommend using that for expediency. Of course watch your fingers, and wear your safety glasses!

3. Place the sawed end of the branch over the edge of your work surface, and saw through the first line you've marked off. Once you've sawed that button off, continue until you have as many as you'd like.
4. Using your drill or Dremel with a very fine drill bit, carefully position your bit just left of center and drill through the button. I drilled atop an old piece of wood to protect my work surface. Repeat with the other side of the button to create two holes for sewing. If you prefer the look, then you can drill four holes instead.

5. One you've drilled through all your buttons, lightly buff each side with sandpaper to remove any edges that could snag clothing or other fabric.

6. After sanding, simply polish each button on both sides with a wood product, such as furniture polish or the like. This will seal the buttons a bit and give them a more 'finished' look. I used Murphy Oil Soap on mine because it was all I had on hand, but it's really more to clean than polish. I'd recommend a polish or wax for this step.

There you have it - as many cute little wooden buttons as you'll ever want. You don't need to buy any expensive tools, and you'll save a lot in the long run over ordering wooden buttons online.


 had proposed making an altered book from copper, left over from my counter top installation a few years ago. To fulfill my obligation, here is the tutorial I proposed to Michelle nearly a month ago. Please be aware this is a very detailed tutorial, with many photos and a ton of steps. I have tried to keep it as simple of possible, but this is not a project you can whip through in a few hours. As with all projects this month, it uses only recycled materials.

Supplies: Unlike my other tutorials, I am not going to name all the supplies needed for this project that can be seen in this photo. You would get confused and, as with most of my tutorials, I have invariably left a few supplies out of the original photo. To make things less complicated, I have shown and named the supplies I use with each step.

Before we begin, I would like to discuss this copper. It is not craft foil. It is heavy, and if you are not a jewelry maker, or someone who routinely plays with copper, you might find it intimidating. Using my calipers to measure the thickness, you can see it is .020 (twenty thousandths of an inch). It is sold by weight, by gauge, or by thickness. It is often called "copper flashing" used in roofing. It is sometimes used as counter top material because it comes in sheets that are about the width of a standard counter. In fact, it is a favorite in some bars because it cleans up so quickly.

Now that we have that out of the way, lets cut a piece of this heavy material using a steel rule and black Sharpie to measure

and tin snips to cut it. The piece I cut was 3" by 6". I had a 1" X 3" piece left over (see above) that I will use later.

Always use safety precautions and sturdy gloves when handling metal. After you cut the metal, be sure to file all edges and corners using a file and rasp.

Always wear safety glasses any time you are cutting or forming the copper.

Once the metal has been cut and filed, throw it in a fire to anneal the copper. Annealing relaxes the molecules and makes this thick metal turn to butter.

Copper is the one metal that will visibly turn colors once it is heated. It is also one of the reasons I love working with it. Here I have a bucket of water by my chiminea, tongs, and my leather gloves on. I am about ready to pop the heated copper into the water to quench it.

At this point, the copper is very soft, so be careful to not damage it. Note how I bent one corner. The extra screws and other bits on the table are not part of the project.

Next I got out my new cool tool, the steel forming block. Two sides have grooves (one side rounded, the other "v" shaped), two sides are flat, and the two ends are hardened. Before beginning this project, I had to clean it to remove the machine oil it was packed in.

I was now ready to use the steel forming block. Granted, I didn't expect to use it so early in the project, but it was nice to grab when I needed to "repair" my bent corner.

Using a rubber mallet, then a rawhide mallet (not shown in this view, but shown above), and the steel forming block,

it didn't take long until the copper was once again straight.

It was at this point that I grabbed the smaller piece of leftover (and annealed) copper, along with the steel forming block, tin snips, and a ball peen hammer.

I cut two hearts freehand from the copper

then surprised myself when I reached for the steel forming block to make some unexpected accents in the hearts.

Although it's hard to see, the hearts now have grooves in them.

Next I cut a template from an old file folder the size of the book cover using my paper cutter (not shown) .

I found the center line using my steel rule and a red pencil,

then placed three dots to represent the holes I spaced equal distances from the center.

At this point, I got out two paper bags to see how many pages (often called folios in American bookbinding terms) I could make from one bag. I was quite surprised to see that I could get 11 folios out of the brown bag. Since this would give me a total of 44 pages in one signature in the completed book, I decided one bag was enough. In case you don't know what a signature is, it is a section of pages sewn together at their folds. This will be a single signature book, one of the easiest ways to hand bind a book.

Using a foam brush, I dry brushed gesso to one side, then the other.

While the paper bag was drying, I clipped my hole template to the copper using two clothes pins. I punched holes in my template using an awl and my ball peen hammer.

Using the forming block on the rounded side, I dimpled the holes using an awl and a hammer. At this point, I was able to remove the template.

I finished poking the holes using a soft piece of plastic, my awl, and hammer.

Since I had worked the metal by pounding on it to make the holes and straighten the corner, I once again annealed the copper piece. If you look closely, you can see the fire peeking behind the center hole.

I cut my brown bag pages 1/4" smaller than the book on all four sides. I then punched 3 holes down the center of the pages. I used my crop-a-dile for the two outer holes that I made 1/8" diameter, and a hand held punch and hammer to make the 1/4" center hole. I protected my surface using a self healing mat. I made the center hole larger on purpose so there would be some "give" or "slack" in case the holes in the copper didn't match up exactly with the pages. I held the pages together using two clothes pins.

At this point, I did a dry run to make sure the holes would all align.

I measured a length of fiber at least three times the length of the spine of the book. You can see I wanted plenty of fiber to hold beads or charms when the book was completed.

Now it was time to decorate the front of the book. For this I used 1/4" and 5/16" stamping sets. Although I didn't get these through Evie's Tool Emporium, Michelle also sells stamping sets and sometimes gives them in exchange for tutorials. Other supplies included E6000, a gold leafing pen and a black Sharpie. I had a hard time making the copper hearts show against the copper background, so I first outlined them in gold leafing pen, then the black Sharpie. I glued the hearts in place and set them aside to dry overnight. I then stamped the saying.

Once the cover was decorated and the glue had dried, it was time to assemble the book. For this I used a dental flosser shown in the photo being held by a clothes pin (which is also the way I store it). I taped one end of the fiber so it wouldn't ravel.

If you have never sewn a book together, you are not alone. Although it turned out to be a relatively easy process, it was difficult to photograph. Of course I would have to start wrong. I put the fiber and flosser through the center hole from the inside.

You actually begin by bringing the flosser through the center hole from the outside. You want your "tail" on the outside of the book. Now it's correct. Be sure to leave a length of thread to tie a knot and add decorative charms or beads,

Next, it is up and out of the top hole, making sure all pages are caught,

then down the outside and into the bottom hole. Be sure to skip the middle hole. Bring the fiber to the outside at the center hole. Tighten or adjust the fiber and straighten your signature if necessary. Tie a knot, catching the long fiber which ran from the top hole to the bottom hole, then trim fiber to the desired length. In case this is not clear, here is a great file that shows the simple pamphlet stitch I used much better than I can.

Originally, the only thing I was going to use the steel forming block for was the spine of this book. It turned out that I used it far more often than that, and bending the spine was only a very small part of what the steel forming block was capable of.

The top view shows how the fibers and stitching look from the outside when the book has been bound. It has now been formed and you can see how nicely the spine formed since I used one of the round grooves in the forming block.

Here is a closeup of the front

and this shows the completed book sitting on a stand. If you don't want your copper to "rust," or acquire that lovely green patina over time, be sure to seal it with a spray adhesive right before sewing the pages to the book.
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