Thursday, October 23, 2014

Product Review : Soft Strike™ Pewter Blanks by ImpressArt

By on Thursday, October 23, 2014 6 Comments

I still laugh at myself for buying stainless steel blanks. In my defense, I was seduced by the mirror finish on them.  It was virtually impossible to stamp them properly as stainless steel is very tough. Although I like brass and copper which are easier to stamp, they are not the silver color I was after. Sterling silver blanks aren't in my budget.

Soft Strike™ Pewter Blanks by ImpressArt

So I use aluminum blanks which are silver tone but have one feature which is both good and bad - they are light to wear but some people (read - customers) equate heft with quality.

I was intrigued when ImpressArt, known for their excellent metal stamps, sent me their new Soft Strike™ pewter blank collection for review. These are US made and  designed for easy stamping. Cheap pewter of poorer quality can sometimes contain lead. So it is good to know these ImpressArt pewter blanks are both lead free and nickel free.  As you can see from the above picture, each blank is hallmarked "IA" at the back so you can tell it is theirs.

So are they easier to use?  I put some of the blanks to the test. First I picked the smallest tag and stamped it with an ImpressArt snowman motif.  I use a strip of painter's tape to keep the tag still.


It's best to get the stamping done in one sharp blow. I found I was able to get a spot on deep stamping even with a tiny tag. 


I just used a black marker pen to color the whole stamped area and wiped off the excess ink from the surface. This picked out the motif very well.


I noticed I had lost the zipper pull from one of my duvet covers when I recently "winterized" the spare bedroom in anticipation for company coming.  So this snowman tag became the new zipper pull!


I then tested out a rectangular aluminum blank with the star Soft Strike™ blank using a star stamp.  A close examination revealed the stamp went in deeper in the pewter blanks than the aluminum ones. The stars look more substantial.


I also tried out simple texturing using the round part of my ball peen hammer on this flower pewter blank. Looks just like my regular aluminum stampings.


I also tested it out with brass and copper but using a more defined embossing pattern with a cross hatch texture hammer.  All three metals look great with this pattern although it took a little more effect to texture the brass and copper.


I used gun blue (easier to use than liver of sulfur - see link below) to patinate the stampings.  All it takes is a few seconds in the solution to darken the copper and brass.  I rinsed each piece in water and dried with a paper towel. The pewter blank did not turn color in the same way.  Pewter is an alloy containing 85-99% tin.  So my guess is these pewter blanks have a very high content of tin or don't contain a metal like copper which patinates easily.


Then some steel wool (#0000) was used to clean off the top layer of patina leaving the darker stuff in the crevices. The pewter blank still looks good without any patina on the metal.


Note that you can darken pewter with some chemical recipes. But why would you?  These pewter blanks are awesome as they are easy, inexpensive silver tone stampings which are also lead and nickel free. Can you imagine if you made a stamping error on a sterling silver blank? Ouch.

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Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
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6 comments:

  1. Getting the silver look as usually difficult with aluminium not being upto the mark so pewter sounds like a great alternative

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  2. I love pewter! It's a beautiful metal and one with lots of history. The soft metal is perfect for all sorts of techniques -- casting, engraving, stamping, folding -- and modern lead-free high quality alloys retain their sheen so no grey dulling of the metal as is common in antique pewter objects.

    It's too bad it's got a bad rap in some countries: when I started beading and joined american forums, the americans (and canadians) often dismissed pewter jewellery supplies as low quality, nothing fit for a real jewellery artist etc. Now, of cause there's lot of cheap so-so components in bead shops, but they dismissed not just crappy components but pewter regardless of what. Some would even say "oh I love Green Girl Studio's pendants, it's just too bad they're pewter" as they refused to use high quality pewter and only saw sterling silver as a serious medium. :( Guess americans don't have a tradition of pewtersmithing? Anyway, I was an impressionable newbie at the time and started seeing pewter as something below par, but latter I learned to stand up for my love of pewter. I started looking at the fine pewtersmith masters in my country and their jewellery art and craft.

    (Right now I only miss not yet having found a local supplier of patinas. Found a few interesting ones in a british book on pewtersmithing, including one that gives a copper patina on pewter.)

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  3. Those are wonderful!

    I love stamping metal. And I was really intrigued with those whole post Pearl!

    The effects with the gun blue is really interesting as well. I must have a look at my book on Patinas to see what else can be done if I wanted to do something with pewter.

    Although now that I think about it - I do have some antique pewter candlestick holders that if not cleaned regularly certainly take on a tarnish all their own. Hmmmm.... :0)

    Great post Pearl! Thanks!!

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  4. I am going to have to try these out. I love the look of stampings but for the life of me, I can't seem to hit the metal hard enough to get a good stamp or even texture. These just might be my life saver.

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  5. Great post Pearl. I absolutely love your snowman zipper pull - such a nice decorating touch!

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  6. I agree with Maneki - pewter deserves more. It is indeed a historic and beautiful metal. I grew up in Malaysia which is one of the world's largest tin producers. Selangor pewter is gorgeous.

    Yes, pewter can be patinated - you'll have to look up the ingredients to do that.

    Shaiha - I understand about striking. It is hard to do it well but this soft strike pewter is really easy to work with.

    Thanks Mylene. I thought the snowman motif was perfect for a comforter zipper pull! Winter is coming!

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