I’m playing a round of Craft Lightning today, with a 15-minute-or-less teacher appreciation-themed project! If you haven’t heard of Craft Lightning before, it’s a themed collection of quick crafts that my friends at The Country Chic Cottage and 30 Minute Crafts organize, so be sure to stop by this week to get LOTS of great teacher appreciation gift ideas that you can make in 15 just minutes! It probably won’t surprise you that I stamped today’s teacher gift. I LOVE stamping – once you get started and get your technique down, you can crank out special personalized gifts in hardly any time at all. This set of 2 spoons took me under 10 minutes (which was of course, less than that trip into the store to buy a box of tea to go along with it)!
I’m going to give you some tips for stamping spoons today, if it’s not something you’re already addicted to. If you would like more information on how to get started, I have a great post about metal and jewelry stamping for beginners to check out, too.
What you will need:
- Basic Stainless Steel Spoons (from any housewares section)
- Premium Hardened Metal Stamps (mine are the Newsprint font from ImpressArt)
- Steel Bench Block and Hammer
- Masking Tape
- Sharpie Marker or other NONTOXIC permanent marker and a Polishing Cloth
- And of course, some tea and/or coffee to complete your gift set
First things first: let’s talk metal and stamps. Because choosing right makes all the difference. My stance is that it’s a more cost-effective investment in the long run to invest in a premium hardened stamp set, so that you can stamp on any kind of spoon. Most average spoons are stainless steel, and brand-new are often $1 or less. My spoons are a 6-pack for $5.99, but you can even find sets of spoons at the dollar store for practice. Alternately, you can buy silver or silver plated vintage spoons, and use a basic stamp set on the softer metal. But given the room for error when you’re practicing (especially at first) and the long-term cost of stamping spoons (say you do 20, that’s $100 just in spoons!) spending the money on your tools pays off if you plan to do quite a bit of stamping.
I mention all of this so that there’s no confusion if you buy a basic stamp set (which works awesome for jewelry) and you can’t get it to work on hardened metals like spoons, washers, or anything steel.
All right, now let’s get down to business. I’m going to tell you what works best for me when I stamp. This isn’t the only “right” way, but it’s how I learned by trial and error to space and align my letters well.
First, I always run a line of tape so that I have a straight line for vertical alignment. I realize I just said “line” a whole bunch right there, but the straighter the line, the better the final piece will look.
Next, I mark off the spacing for my letters. Then, I tape my piece to my steel bench block. Spoons aren’t flat, and you’ll get the best results when your spoon is in direct contact with your bench block. So, you’ll need to adjust and tilt it as you work. For me, masking tap works well to rotate it around and move it as I work.
Then, I stamp. Keep your stamps light, and you’ll be able to feel the edge of the tape. You can see below that it came out pretty even – much better than if I just eyeballed it. You want one firm strike for each letter – hitting it more than once will often cause your stamp to shift, and you’ll get a double-stamp.
I stamped two messages: “one sweet tea-cher” (playing off sweet tea) and also “Carpe Diem” which I think would go really well with a breakfast blend coffee. :)
Now, the tape works great for letters that don’t have descenders (g, j, p, q, and y). So for “Carpe Diem”, I skip over the “p”, remove the tape, and replace it above the letters, and line it up at the top instead – filling it in last. Let me show you:
Finally, to darken the letters (and this step is optional). It’s important that you use a non-toxic marker for this, because it may be coming into contact with food. My personal feeling is that it’s such a minute amount of ink darkening the grooves that it’s probably okay, but I know there are some out there who would prefer to avoid any ink at all – and that’s totally fine too! This step is your choice based on your comfort level. But if you plan to darken your letters, you’ll need a non-toxic permanent marker and a polishing cloth (and yes, mine is well-used, haha. It used to be yellow…)
Darken down into all the grooves of your letters with your marker, and then use the polishing cloth to remove all the ink from the raised parts (which is the main surface of the spoon). If you see you’ve missed any spots, re-darken and re-polish.
Cute, right? My husband has run our spoons through the dishwasher about a half dozen times, and they are still inked, so it will hold up for quite a while.
The options are wide open for what you can stamp, it can be your teacher’s name, or anything clever you’d use a spoon for! I paired mine with herbal tea, but you can use soup for a “souper teacher”, something themed for cereal or ice cream, or something inspiring!