Brass stampings are extremely versatile for today's jewelry designers. They can be drilled, bent, manipulated, cut apart, cut out, glued, soldered, cold connected, collaged, and yes....some, you can even use to texture polymer clay.
My love of working with brass stampings comes from my earlier years as an antiques dealer. I noticed that much of the old design work had lacey bits and connectors, marriages of marvelous washed and plated brass pieces that gave them an amazing vibe while keeping the piece lightweight.
Brass stampings have been made in the United States for over 100 years by family businesses going back to Great-Great Grandpa who emigrated to the US from other shores, bringing with him the work of master die makers. Through the years the best dies have been preserved and refurbished as time went on, so that we can still enjoy those wonderful pieces, today.
Brass stampings are created by male and female dies that stamp 24 gauge brass sheet under thousands of pounds of pressure. Some pieces are done with one strike, some require several. Others still may require a bit of hand work, such as riveting, arranging, further forming. Weight of a piece and how much hand work is required is the basis for the price of a piece as well as the current cost of rich, low brass sheet.
Stampings are also made from 18 and 19 gauge sheet. These are the heavier stampings that you will generally find to be flat on the back rather than hollow. They are great for making buttons and pendants. The sheet costs more and the process is more involved, so generally the heavier, 'gilding brass' stampings cost a bit more.
I insist on only the best brass sheet when I have my stampings made, so no, not all brass stampings are alike. Some stampings are actually made on steel, even in the United States. I do not accept steel stampings or low grade brass stampings. Steel must be specialty coated in order to plate properly, or it can 'bleed', turning color or even rusting in time. Only the best brass plates in our artisan finishes properly, as well.
Here are some videos to help you get to know more about brass stampings:
Use Plated Brass Stampings in Your Work:
Cutting and Bending Brass:
Making Simple Bracelets from Brass Stampings:
Using Brass Stampings to Make Charms, and The Value of Your Work:
Costing Out Your Work, Using Glue with Brass Stampings: