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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