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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

How to become a Master Manipulator (With Brass Stampings) - The Thrifty Maker finds the Stamping within the Stamping

I've been a Master Manipulator for years. I might actually be one of the best you've never heard of, but before you get worried that I have taken advantage of you in some way, let me show you what that actually means...


Often in my work, someone will say "I have never seen that stamping before, I don't know who you get your supplies from, but I bet it's a Secret". Well.....Yes and No. The first rule of SupplyClub is, "Don't talk about SupplyClub!" (I think this is a joke, but if I should disappear shortly after this blog posts, we will know I was mistaken).

I buy my supplies from the same places you all do, I just use them differently (here is where the "Master Manipulator" stuff comes in). I make it look like it's a piece of unobtanium (aha, all the Steampunks just woke up and took notice). Same stamping, different use, the Dr Brassy way. Continue on........

Buy it here

This piece can be found in my Steampunk Supply Store here: Steampunk Supply Store
The first impulse would be to use this on a cuff or as a large brooch. The piece is large and can be intimidating. But if you look for the stamping WITHIN the stamping, you will see that this can actually be a set of wings and suddenly THAT big scary stamping over there <<<< becomes, THIS lovely cabochon necklace right down here  (See Below)
   Buy it here 
You can start to see where you can buy a large stamping for  $5- $6 and turn it into 2-3-4 or more pieces, which not only extends the creative possibilities, it also extends your buying power. I can easily see this piece separated into three unique stamping pieces for even more versatility and if you are especially adventurous, 6!

Let's try another one:  Everyone's favorite Filigree Garden Dapt Stamping!  Buy it here
Filigree Garden Dapt Stamping

 For years, I thought nothing more to do with this than to add a stone to the center.

But see here the genius of what Maker, Harry Wood of OscarCrow Designs does with it in his "Dark Eye Necklace Like the All Seeing Eye"- piece. His use of the garden filigree as eyelids by splitting the piece in two-sheer brilliance! 

Dark Eye Necklace by Harry Wood of OscarCrow

For all your Antique German Ceramic/Bisque/Porcelain figurine and Handmade Raku needs, see Harry's shop here OscarCrow Supplies

The list of stampings that are yearning to be wings is endless.  Here is one that has 3 sets of wings in it plus a very useful navette shaped center piece and two moon crescents. Just think of all the things you could do with this one stamping!

Cutting tools


Ok so we are starting to see the possibilities- but how do we go about taking that one large piece and whittling it down to manageable smaller pieces? I start with Industrial Strength tin snips from Ace Hardware. Not only because they make me feel womanly and powerful, but because they do the job with very little effort. As I have severe arthritis in my hands, anything that helps me manipulate metal, is welcome.

Sanding tools
The tools you will need to become a Master
Stamping Manipulator (above)  can be found at any craft store or hardware store.

You will also need something to round off sharp edges and buff your brass smooth so it doesn't cut your customer (or you!).  A Dremel, sand paper, or nail supply emery boards or nail sanding blocks are all great tools to use (see right).


Now that you have the tools, we can talk about the process. You want to be sure you cut along the natural creases in the piece. You will sometimes get lucky and a simple bending back and forth on an indentation will naturally separate a piece. For more ornate designs, tin snips, cutters/cut nose pliers, flat end cutters and heavy duty scissors, work well.

Once your piece is cut, you will want to trim off any excess, then sand down the rough edges till they are smooth, a Dremel works well or even Beauty Supply Store Nail buffers, sanding blocks and emery boards.

 *** Dr Brassy Hint- If you are using a plated brass stamping, be sure to finish those raw brass edges with the same color plating as on the rest of the piece. You can use alcohol inks, paint pens or Swellegant metal finishes. This is what the professionals do to get the best results.


Now you get to sit back and relish in how smart and thrifty you are!!! You took a single brass stamping and made it your own with more pieces and more possibilities for you to be a Master Manipulator (of brass!)

Below is one of my current favorite pieces to use because of it's Nouveau Paisley Leaf shapes and versatility. 

The top row is the original Long Nouveau Floral Stamping  Buy it Here
The middle row is the stamping split in two
The bottom row is the stamping split into four pieces

Long Nouveau Floral Stamping
Sometimes a brass stamping doesn't even need cutting to be manipulated and used to it's full potential. All it needs is a little push with a ball peen hammer to flatten it out and what was a bead cap Buy it Here, becomes a cross base piece for a Steampunk Propeller Cuff. See here:

Bsue Item # Cap03460
Buy it Here

Here is another piece that intuitively wants to be wings and I did indeed separate the piece into two, but instead of wings

I did these 
"Drops of Jupiter" Earrings 
which my customer loved!

So now that you have all the tools and secrets, I expect you all to go out and try this. Find your inner Master Manipulator and even save yourself some cash. A Master Maker does the impossible with nothing. We are getting really close to that here. Happy Makering!

Much Love in E-Steam,

~~~~~~Dr Brassy 


  1. Very cool! Thanks for all the great tips for working with Brass stampings!

  2. Wonderful insights into pieces and bits. You create wonderfully. A true Maker.

  3. It is always amazing to see what you come up with - Bravo Dr. Brassy!

  4. It is always amazing to see what you come up with - Bravo Dr. Brassy!

  5. you take a piece of nice and make it beautiful !

  6. Love you girl, this is the Most Fantastick,and helpful Lesson I have learned. Thank you so much, huggst

  7. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and experience!

  8. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and experience!

  9. Awesome tips! Thanks for posting your methods.....

  10. Yup- There is a Method to my madness alright. You are all most welcome. My only wish is for more time to be able to share more with you all. I will try to do that this year.

  11. Have you and Harry and B'Sue ever considered collaborating on a book? Thanks so much for sharing!

  12. Brenda (Bsue) is working on a book, I am unsure about Harry (but would not surprise me to find he published/working on a book) and I am also working on a book (Steampunk Lifestyle Biography), but no collaborative book in the works currently.

  13. You are a brilliant and incredibly creative woman. I stand in awe...

  14. excellent tut brassy--thanks for taking my brain out of the box!

  15. excellent tut brassy! you now have my brain thinking out of the box~~~

  16. Yow know I have looked at other things that way but not with my jewelry. Thanks for the insights and it does make you look at the big picture but in smaller chunks

  17. Awesome insights into makering, Dr. Brassy. And a great lesson in economics, too! Thanks for sharing.

  18. Awesome insights into makering, Dr. Brassy. And a great lesson in economics, too! Thanks for sharing.

  19. Thanks for sharing this lesson in makering economically outside the "box", or inside the stamping!

  20. Thanks Brassy, great tutorial, you rock! <3

  21. Thanks for sharing this tutorial Brassy, great info! <3

  22. Dr. Brassy, you are truly a steam goddess. Awesome post!

  23. You are smart and funny, a very good writer and a talented maker plus your gorgeous. are you married?? you cant really exist in real life

    1. I have no idea how to answer this. Ummmm....yes I am real. I give points to my husband as far as the staying married part. He is an angel to put up with me.

  24. what is the best glue to use to put these together. I have used E6000 but it seems to still come apart. Its stays 'rubbery'

  25. What kind of glue do you use to put these together? I have used E6000 on metal and it doesnt seem to permanently set and dry up. Seems it stays rubbery and moves. I'm using brass bullet shells.

  26. I swear by E6000. I use heat to set it. If your studio is too cold, it won't set up. You also need oxygen to get to it for it to cure properly. I have what I call the "Cook" room, that I keep warm and put all my glue curing pieces in. This seems to give me good results and also keeps me safe from fumes. I hope that helps. With E6000, use the smallest amount for best results. Too think or too much and it won't set.