We started metal stamping class today and although I figured the women would like the technique, I was surprised by how much they enjoyed stamping. I started the class with an introduction to the tools and brief demonstration of how hold the hammer and stamps and how to stamp with one stroke. Then the women split up in groups of 3 to practice on large metal sheets I brought.
Once the women felt comfortable with the basic techniques, I broke down how to plan a design. While metal stamping itself is fairly simple, this is an advanced technique due to the amount of planning and attention that needs to be given. There are a lot of steps involved in planning and executing a design and they require precision. But, stamping gives the women more control over the design as they each had to come up with their own phrases and placements on the metal blanks.
This technique is a perfect avenue to work with the women around taking care with their work. Every woman had at least one mistake on their first project (some more). They either didn’t plan properly, measured incorrectly, or went too fast and used the wrong letter or the letter was backwards. There is a lot that can go wrong with metal stamping and once you make a mistake it’s very difficult to recover without starting over.
I find in the classes the women tend to rush through projects, thinking that by finishing first it means they did the best. Metal stamping is the opposite and I think this techniques is going to teach them a lot about patience and carefulness. The woman who did the best with the technique is one who is always the slowest because she does everything exactly the way it should be done and doesn’t cut corners. When I asked the women what they thought of metal stamping there was a resounding round of approval with the caveat, “You have to have a lot of patience. If you rush through it, it won’t turn out.”
The women also commented that hammering the stamps was their favorite part. They said it de-stressed them and released some of their frustration at being in the prison.
Personally, I enjoyed seeing what phrases they chose. Most wrote the names of their children or romantic phrases for their partners. One wrote, “Soy feliz”- a simple, yet powerful phrase coming from a woman in prison. Of all the projects it was my favorite because the simplicity of the words, and the negative space on the blank, made for a striking piece.
Tomorrow we delve more into product design and choosing an impactful, relatable phrase with a story.