Way back when, I was madly in love with a Greek girl. Still am; I put a ring on it! Anyway, I wanted to make her a cuff and knowing she liked flowers, I pondered how I could do it. The design I came up with was a plain silver cuff with flowers stamped in the middle, like a bouquet. I knew she’d love it.
Problem. How do you stamp flowers? How do you stamp an entire bouquet of flowers? Remember, this was back in the day when you had to make your own stamps. There was no Impress Art with 25 different types of flower stamps. (More about that later.)
In thinking about it and playing around, I decided I could use the small liner stamp I’d made, along with the little diamond and half round stamps I’d made. I also used a nail set to get a perfect little circle. Off to the races!
I remember thinking the whole time I was working on this cuff how much she’d like it. It was exciting. I also remember thinking, “Don’t screw up. You can’t afford another piece of silver!” Each flower required multiple stampings. One flower took nine separate stampings. Another took over 20. I made some leafs that required too many individual stampings to count. Needless to say, it was nerve racking and very tiresome, but oh, it was worth it!
As the bouquet began to take shape, my excitement grew because it was starting to turn out the way I’d envisioned it in my head. If you are a maker, you know that doesn’t always happen. It was thrilling.
After I’d stamped all that I thought I should I had that little discussion with myself – “Am I done? I think so. No, maybe a little more here. You’re done. Just one more flower. No, I’m done.” With that settled, I had to shape the cuff. All I had back then was a little anvil with an anvil horn to shape the cuff on. If you’ve never done that, it’s more art than science, with a little luck thrown in. Then I patina’d it and polished it to a high gloss.
I can honestly say that when I gave it to her, she was thrilled. She LOVED it. As a matter of fact, she still wears it all the time, and still get compliments on it. But that’s not what I wanted to write about today.
I tell you all of that to tell you a little story. Six or seven years ago I’m walking through the To Bead True Blue show in Tucson and come across the Impress Art booth. On display for the world to see are all of these COOL flower stamps. I immediately thought of the cuff I had made Roxanne, lo those many years ago. The first thing I thought was, if I’d had these stamps I could have made that cuff in about a tenth of the time it took me!
So of course I got a handful of the flower stamps and a couple of leaf stamps to play with. (And a butterfly. Did I mention the butterfly?) As you can well imagine, it was a lot easier to create a flower with one blow of the hammer instead of 10 or 20. That’s not to say that these stamps don’t have challenges of their own. You have to strike a big blow to get a great impression. It’s also very easy to have that big stamp face just a little tilted, and then you get an incomplete impression.
Enter necessity. In making the new cuff, I invented the Steady Stamp to hold the stamp perfectly perpendicular while you strike it. It really is a simple concept as most good inventions are. In fact, it’s so simple; I couldn’t believe no one had come up with it before me. But I’ve sold literally hundreds of Steady Stamps since then, so I’m not the only one. And the cuffs (one copper, the practice, one silver) ended up being a ‘How-To’ article in the September 2013 issue of Lapidary Journal. Go figure.
I guess the moral of the story is two-fold, pursue what and who you love and great things can happen.