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Say It On Your Wrist, Stamped Cuff

Stamp a classic! This is the class that started it all. You won’t want to stop making these bracelets that feature a stamped message or sentiment. In this class, instructor Lisa Niven Kelly shares the secret to making this popular design. You’ll learn how to size, stamp and shape a cuff bracelet that you’ll never want to take off. Some stamping experience is helpful, but with a little bit of practice, you’ll be stamping like a pro in no time.

This class has a running time of 30 minutes.


hi I'm Lisa Niven Kelly and welcome to

my class today we're going to be making

stamped metal cuffs so if you are new to

stamping I need you to jump over to my

free class stamping on metal where you

will learn all kinds of good stuff about

stamping it's a little bit tricky so I

need you to perfect the technique before

coming over here and committing to

working on this thick sterling what I

love about this project is it's very

portable I've been traveling and

teaching this class for years and it's

the project that sort of got me started

on my stamping journey I come from a

beaters background so I'm used to taking

all my tools and materials and throwing

it in my bag so that I can work on a

project anywhere with this project there

are some classic metal smithing

techniques that would typically be used

to make a cuff like maybe you'd shape it

on a bracelet mandrel which are very big

and very heavy or if you're popping a

hole you'd probably use a drill or two

saw this or to cut this metal you'd

likely use a saw well that's not all

going to travel and work well for a

class for me so I found a bunch of hand

tools that will do all that job for you

but simplify it so let me talk a little

bit about the tools now

here's some of the tools we're going to

be using today I've got a letter set

today I'm using the be education

lowercase kismet set the 1/8 size and

I've got a 1 pound brass head mallet you

need a bench block this is a 4 inch by 4

inch bench pot but you can use any bench

plot that you have for your jewelry

making and we always like to have around

a little variety of design stamps today

I'll be using the small spiral stamp to

size cut and shape our bracelet we're

going to need these tools here a tape

measure a heavy cutter nylon jaw

bracelet bending pliers that have a nice

curve to their jaw a course file and

either some sand papers or I like to use

this nail buffing block that has a

variety of grits on each side after

stamping we're going to be oxidizing our

metals so we can see the black down in

the impressions and I'm going to do that

today with silver black the first things

first I'm going to make sure I have all

my safety goggles in my gloves and have

baking soda nearby in a bowl with water

to neutralize any of the solution that

might spill or that's on my metal or my

q-tip I'm going to need the q-tips to

dip in the silver black to swipe on my

metal when all is said and done I'm

going to polish it up with pro polish

pads you have another option of adding

black into the impressions using a

Sharpie pen or liver of sulfur we're not

going to get into that today I prefer

silver black but no matter which

solution or technique you use you want

to make sure your metal is very very dry

before moving to the pro polish pads to

polish off the black here are the

materials we're going to be using today

when I do stamping projects and make

sure to always have some copper nearby

to practice any challenging design

stamps on and to make our cuff we're

going to use sterling silver flat wire

this flat wire is five millimeters wide

by 1.5 mm

meters thick and we carry it in a

variety of sizes online we have this

wire custom-made for us and it has a

nice rounded edge rather than your

traditional rectangle wire that's a

little more straight this is nice and

rounded gives you more of a finished


you can certainly cut your own piece of

metal out of sheet I would just use

maybe 18 gauge or thicker and we also

carry some flat wire in copper first

things first we need to measure your

wrist to decide how long to cut your

wire before stamping it so I have a

flexible tape measure here and I am

going to measure my wrist loosely

actually not too loose you wanted to

measure kind of exactly your wrist so

not too loose not too tight you can see

there that my wrist is exactly 6 inches

the rule of thumb for sizing these

bracelets is you want to take the exact

measurement of your wrist subtract one

half inch and that's how long you want

to cut your wire before we cut this wire

to size and especially before we stay up

on it we need to make sure it's very

straight so if it comes to you in a

slight curve let's straight it out to do

that I just use my hands hopefully your

wire is soft enough to just sort of bend

in the opposite direction I don't really

want to hammer it to straighten it

because I don't want to harden it so I'm

just going to bend softly with my thumbs

to get it a little more straight let's

work a little bit on that right there

that's better

okay so now we're going to bring in the

tape measure and remember I needed to

cut it at five and a half so I'm going

to get my pen and Mark that

right about here now for cutting this

large wire you can use a big strong

cutter or you can sigh it if you don't

have this cutter I really like this

cutter because it is big and strong

now when cutting with this big cutter I

want to make sure that I cut back on the

blades back towards here because that's

the strongest part of my cutter it's the

first route to closed so I don't have to

squeeze really really hard with my hand

I'll use the strength of the cutters but

notice - when I cut it there's a little

gap there so you don't want to be have

your metal be that far back otherwise

you won't be on the blades so I'm just

going to place it right here on the

blades and I want to get my cutter nice

and straight so I'm giving it a straight


now when holding it with my hand I want

to move my hand back on the cutter use

the leverage of the cutter don't hold

your hand up here it's going to be too

hard so move it back get right on the

line and cut so now I've got my five and

a half inches I think possibly the

hardest part of this bracelet is

figuring out what to stamp on it but

now's the time you need to figure out

what you want to put on here and spacing

wise depending on what letter set you

use typically like I said you're going

to use about a 3/32 inch you can fit

about ten letters per inch so look at it

that way you can't say too much because

you won't be able to fit it and you can

kind of gauge it that way so I have

decided that I am going to stamp on here

good shoes take you good places because

I like shoes what you need to do is

write it all out so that you can figure

out where the middle is

so I write out everything I want to say

and write a little number under each

leather letter excuse me you notice too

that the space between words you need to

put a couple of numbers to account for

that space so I put two numbers and then

a number under each letter two numbers

in the space between the words and so on

if you're putting any design stamps on

your bracelet you need to think about

that too I would draw it in here so I

can assign it a number and some of the

design stamps are longer so it may be

two numbers worth in length or maybe

just one but to get everything centered

on your bracelet you need to kind of do

this this is also nice because when

stamping we're going to find the middle

of your words and start there at the

middle of your bracelet then we're going

to stamp to one direction and stamp to

the other direction so when you're

stamping backwards you really need to

refer to your letters because spelling

backwards is a little bit of a challenge

trust me I've done it wrong many many

times so with this in mind the middle of

my words is right in between these two

words to figure out the middle of my

bracelet I'm going to bring my measuring

tape back in and remember I cut this at

five and a half so I can either do the

math or I can take that five and a half

inch measurement and bend it in half and

that shows me that the middle is 2 and

3/4 right there so I'm going to take my

pen make sure it's super accurate 2 and

3/4 and just put a little dot right

there and that's where I'm going to

start my stamping the middle of my words

the middle of my bracelet I want to

point out that I'm working on a 4 inch

by 4 inch bench block here if you happen

to be working on a smaller one like a

two and a half inch by two and a half

inch when it comes time to stamp on the

side over here your bracelet is going to

be like kind of falling off the edge so

what I do in that instance is I'll bring

something in to just hold it up in this

case like the edge of my cutters will do


to keep it steady while you're stamping

on this end all right I've got my letter

Y here because I'm going to start just

to the right of the center of my

bracelet this word I'm going to put this

aside but refer to it so don't spell

wrong I also notice that my metal is a

little grungy from my finger prints so

I'm just going to polish it up slightly

I don't want to remove my dot but I want

it nice and shiny so I can see the

reflection of my letters which sometimes

helps with placement so with my Y I'm

going to line it up just to the side of

my dot and now oh and you are moving

along nicely here all right I've got

started there with the y-o-u

and I'm going to continue on to the

right and then stamp a little bit to the

left I've stamped to the right now I'm

going to go backwards paying very close

attention because I'll be honest I often

mess this up so I'm doing the word take

I'm spelling it backwards

here I have my e line it up and my K and

I'm using those nice education original

stamps that are easy to line up and I

can stamp with just one good whack and

my tea

and I'll continue on all right I've got

all my words successfully stamped on

there and it's pretty straight thanks to

those beach occasional letters helps

with the placing but if your letters are

not straight or perfectly spaced do not

worry about it you don't want perfection

that's just too too boring this is

handmade so I've also decided I want to

put a little design stamp at either end

here and I've chosen the tiny spiral but

again with any time that I use a design

stamp I practice first they're a little

trickier and I just want to make sure

that I can succeed with this stamp so

looks good I'm feeling confident you

can't really see it on camera there but

it came out nice so I'm going to come

and put a little spiral on this end and

over here okay so now we're ready to

oxidize and get some black down in these

impressions like we talked about before

you've got options for putting black

down in the impressions you can use a

sharpie pen just draw over it make sure

you press the pen down so it gets deep

in the impressions and polish it off but

I think the easiest way is to use silver

black the hydrochloric acid based

solution so I've got it up here off

camera and over here off camera I've got

a bucket of water with baking soda in it

that I can dip in afterwards to

neutralize the solution so I'm just

going to dip my q-tip in my bottle of

silver black and just swipe along here

you can see it turning black right away

if you have any boo-boos in your

bracelets like maybe a letter that

bounced or you have a little nick in it

you want to not touch this solution to

that spot because when you add the black

to the impressions it kind of highlights

it and maybe you don't want that part to

show up so you can just sort of

it with your q-tip so now it's all nice

and dark I'm going to put this in my

baking soda to neutralize it I'm going

to also put this bracelet in my water

with baking soda to neutralize it then

head to the sink and give it a good

rinsing now we're ready to polish this

bad boy up

we're going to remove the black from the

surface and it's going to leave it down

in the grooves I like to oxidize and

polish at this point because it's nice

and straight and it's easy to polish but

you could do the oxidizing and the

polishing after its shaped that's not a

big deal so what I'm doing here is I've

got my pro polish pad and I'm just sort

of wrapping it around giving it a little

hug here and swiping up and down you

don't need to be gentle don't come in

and give it nice little gentle swipes

kind of squeeze hard and get that off

the surface it won't pull the black out

of the grooves so don't worry about that

let's see how it's looking here that

looks pretty good but what I want to

show you a lot of people stop at this

point and you see that little like cloud

above the U that shows you that you have

a little more polishing to do there's

also a little bit in the inside of that

G so let's keep going

alright I'm pretty happy with that so

let's move on to shaping before shaping

this into our nice cuff bracelet shape

let's first trim these edges and turn

this very sharp end into a nice rounded

end so the first thing I'm going to do

rather than just filing that to a nice

round end I'm going to use my cutters to

remove these corners because that would

take a long time to file so let's save

some time here and just cut a tiny

little bit off of one side and off the


so now with those removed I have less

work to do with my file going to come in

and now smooth that out remember with

the file you want to file a one

direction and the way I remember it is I

use the tip of my metal I put it to the

tip of my file and there's nowhere else

to go except this direction it's not

like filing your nails if you go like

this you're going to just dull your file

so just one direction another thing too

is I try to hold my metal up really high

so that if my file slips

I don't scratch it notice the movement

of my file I'm sort of letting it create

the roundness there

that's a little bit better I've got a

little bit more work to do let's

continue on

I like this heavy file because it

removes so much materials quickly rather

than using a small file and although it

leaves it pretty rough we're going to

come in and smooth it out with some

sandpaper it's a little better now I'm

going to move to the other side trim the

edges and file that too round when you

use this nail buffing block to do the

final polishing on the edge here I like

it because it's got these different

grits of basically of sandpaper adhere

to the block and it works quite well so

first I'm going to start with the

harshest one here just buff all around

make sure to get under there

that's an important spot because that's

a part that slides over your wrist so if

it's scratchy it can be a little painful

and I'm just going to move through the

different grits here

and end with the shine nail that will

just basically make it nice and shiny so

you can see what a nice job that does it

looks very finished and it's very smooth

now we are going to shape the bracelet

and we're going to use these nice handy

nylon jaw bracelet bending pliers as the

name implies they have nylon jaws which

means you can squeeze along with these

guys it will shape the metal but it will

not Mar it so if you look here you can

see that they are curved and we're going

to insert the bracelet so that the

letters end up on the outside of the

curve now people always ask where should

I start when I shave pitch I start at

one end and move down to the bottom

start in the middle it really doesn't

matter in fact Oregon's going to be

going back and forth so I'll just start

right here you can see when I give it a

nice squeeze it bends it I'm just going

to shift my hand and squeeze along well

you don't want to do what I say students

do in class sometimes as they squeeze

and turn their wrist but there's nothing

happening in the wrist here that's

moving this metal let the nylon jaws do

all the work and just cruise down just

bite away at it don't worry about

squeezing really hard the harder you

squeeze the more it will sort of set the

metal as it hardens it into this shape

now this plier is only going to make it

into sort of an open C shape it's not

going to do the full cuff shape for you

so let's get it all the way around and

then I'll show you a trick to make it

into the cuff shape get that last little

bit like that okay so now what you want

to do we want to bring these parts and

let me bring out a finished cuff to show

you so you want more of a bend out here

and out here

the way I positioned my tool for this is

now I'm using the bracelet bending plier

sort of just as a handle

and I grab about a half an inch within

the plier then with the other hand I'm

going to bend it around now here's how I

want you to think about this

my hand is bracing all this metal right

here the plier is bracing this metal

here so it's the exposed part that's

going to actually move so if I have my

hand way over here I can't really

control where the bend is going to

happen I'm going to brace these two

parts so that the bend happens right

here and gently curl it in towards the

middle so you can see I've shifted my

hand here to just leave this little part

exposed because that's the then the spot

I'm trying to create a bend right there

let's flip it around and get that part

in you sort of want to have these two

ends pointing towards each other so

sometimes I grab a little bit less than

a half inch a quarter inch and really

can't get in just that last bit right

there the shaping takes a little bit of

practice oftentimes people are sort of

really messing with it in class to get

it right if you want to remove the

pliers all together and work with your

hands that's certainly fine go for it

get it in that right position and I am

pretty happy with that right there


here a few design ideas for you you can

put a clasp on your cuff making it more

into a bangle bracelet here I've got a

ready-made clasp that just attached with

two jump rings in a couple of hand

forged wire work clasps just keep in

mind with this that you're going to need

to cut your metal a little bit

differently you're going to need to know

what you want the end result bracelet to

measure you need to know how much your

clasp is going to measure and then do

the math backwards from there and these

are some examples of just a couple where

I've popped some holes in and wrapped

some beads on top and just done some

crazy wire wrapping directly on the top

of the cuff now that you're all finished

with your project I bet a couple of

questions have come up in your mind let

me see if I can read your mind

Cheryl in Duluth yes you have a question

about sizing let me tell you about

sizing so like I said you want to

measure your wrist take away a half an

inch and that seems to fit almost all

the wrists that I've ever seen in class

so it's a nice general sizing but what's

nice about a cuff bracelet is that if

you need a little bit bigger you can

stretch it out or a little bit smaller

you can shrink it in so like I showed

you I cut my bracelets at five and a

half inches but I do have a one bracelet

that's six inches and after I slide it

on I just pinch it in a little bit it

fits fine it's just a little more

movement on my wrist which doesn't

bother me and the opposite can go for if

it's a little bit smaller so don't get

too hung up on sizing this is what's

great about a cuff it can fit on

multiple people another question you may

have is what size letter to use we

talked about that a little bit in the

class but I want to point out you want

to make sure the letters that you use

don't perfectly fit on the width of your

bracelet I in class used a five

millimeter wide bracelet but if I used a

a letter set that was close to five

millimeters and fit just perfectly on

there I'd have to get my stamping

perfect if I was high a little bit part

of the letter would fall off the top the

same on the bottom so try to make sure

your letters have a little space above

and below just in case you don't get it

in that perfect spot so let me guess

maybe one or two of you kind of messed

up your first letter maybe messed up

your second letter so you're thinking

I'm going to flip it nobody will know

the difference that's totally fine but

what you'll notice is after you've

stamped on the top of your metal the

bottom of your metal kind of picks up

the slight texture that's on your bench

block so when you flip it over it's

going to be a little bit scratchy if

that doesn't bother you go for it flip

it and continue again now if you're

working with really soft metal and you

feel like the shape of your bracelet

isn't holding you can throw it into a

tumbler let it tumble around for a

couple hours and it'll harden up the

metal that doesn't usually happen with

me this thick metal is strong enough on

its own after I shape it but

occasionally I do tumble it if I want a

really high shine I want to point out

something that tends to happen every now

and then in class sometimes people end

up getting their bracelet to kind of

curve like this they're like my

bracelets curving what the heck is going

on what's happened here is you can see

most of these letters and the design are

all pretty blow on the metal so it's

pushed the metal down and then it starts

to curve it truth be told it's not very

easy to fix this you could try to place

it on your bench block and maybe tap tap

tap on it with a plastic mallet I

haven't had a lot of luck with that but

really let this be a reminder that you

need to have your letters super centered

on the metal so if you see it start to

curve just try to catch it and Center

them a little bit better if you'd like

to hang a charm from your cuff you

certainly can I've done that here on

this bracelet that says I feel the need

to bead and I've got a little charm here

that says addict so let me advise you to

some spots where you do not want to hang

charm we're going to be popping a hole

to hang that charm so don't put a hole

and where there's a drastic curve in

your cuff because what happens is the

fact that you've popped a hole there

you've removed a chunk of metal and then

when you go to shape it it tends to kind

of Bend and you'll get the sharp crease

that you can't straighten out so I

advise students against putting a hole

right there so stick to the front where

it's a little flatter or to the very

edges so let me show you how to pop that

hole I'm going to use the screw down

hole punch because it's strong enough to

go through this thick metal and first

I'm going to mark my hole with this

sharpie I'd like to put my holes a

little bit lower than center so the

charm will hang nice and low I've got my

dot right there and I'm going to use the

smaller side of the screw down hole

punch that's a size hole I'm looking for

I'm going to line it up see if I can get

this in here with my dot and I just

screw it down until it's holding the

metal so I can take this opportunity to

check and make sure it's not too close

to the edge because I don't want to rip

through make sure everything's where I

want it to be it's a little close to the

edge but I think I'm safe so I'm going

to hold my metal still it's kind of hard

to turn I will feel it punched through

when it lightens that a little bit more

and right there got a lot easier you can

hear the metal just popped out and screw

while I hold my metal still

all right that's great so there's my

hole right there it's an okay spot to go

ahead and shape this and hang my charm

later I got my whole little close to the

edge there but it's fine there's enough

metal to hold it and that'll be a great

spot so that's it I hope you have

enjoyed this class that this continues

to be my favorite stamping project as

you can see I've made a bunch of them

although I make jewelry for a living I

don't wear a lot of jewelry but I do

wear two of these stamped cuff bracelets

every single day I hope you enjoyed the

class and I hope to see you again in

another class


Tools & Materials

Metal Stamping Blanks Sterling Silver Flat Wire 7mm x 1mm (priced per ft)
Metal Stamping Blanks Sterling Silver Flat Wire 5mm x 1.5mm (priced per ft)
Metal Stamping Blanks Copper Flat Wire 17g, 1/4" wide (priced per ft)