Make your own bezants!

— by Christian de Holacombe, Guild Chronicler

Making your own stamped metal bezants turns out to be remarkably easy. All you need is:

  1. A concrete step or porch (or similar firm surface);
  2. A hammer or mallet;
  3. A few pieces of thick, soft leather or felt for padding;
  4. Soft 36-gauge sheet brass;
  5. Metal stamp tools and punches, the type used for decorating leather.

My first experiments worked splendidly. I laid a piece of leather down on the step, cut out a convenient sized piece of the sheet brass, put that on top of the leather, plonked the stamping tool down onto it, and gave it several good whacks with the hammer. Presto!

The sheet brass was actually easy to find; Emigh Hardware in Sacramento happens to have it, but I’ve also appended a couple of mail-order sources.

I was actually worried that this “soft” brass would be too soft, but silver and gold (the period materials) are even softer. I did try stamping the metal “paillettes” I’d ordered from Fire Mountain Gems and they’re definitely too hard: the stamp made almost no impression. Jewelers’ stamps and cutters would probably work better and last longer than leather stamps, but leather stamps ($5-6 each) worked fine for starters.

Leather stamps and sheet brass

The 36-gauge brass is thin enough to cut with ordinary scissors, and you can poke holes in it with a medium-sized needle. I found it was easier to pre-punch the needle holes with a slightly larger needle than the one I was using to sew with. All I did was put the bezant down on a piece of leather, put the needle point where I wanted the hole, and press firmly with a thimble.

A round leather punch will also cut the brass with a few good whacks from a hammer, and it produces a nice little “domed” circle Just Like The Ones In The Pictures. These were very quick to do, easy to sew on, and the bezants seem to hold their shape just fine through ordinary handling.

Some of the author’s first batch of bezants

Online sources for brass:

Mister Art: 12 in. x 3 ft. rolls brass each 36 gauge. Item # 5010200, $6.37+shipping.

R.J. Leahy: 12” wide - $7.50 a pound to start (there are about 4 feet to a pound).

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This particular web page last updated on March 19 2006.