Copper in the Arts

September 2010

Make Your Dog Smile: Custom Copper Pet Tags Made with Love

By Ashley Morris

Block Copper tag Block copper tag

Photograph Courtesy of Tessa Long

When Tessa Long made her yellow lab, Pablo, smile with her fresh-baked gourmet dog treats, and a handmade ID tag, she had no idea it would evolve into thriving business. Today, she runs Make Your Dog Smile, specializing in personalized copper and brass pet id tags that are as unique as your favorite dog or cat.

Long, a former high school Spanish teacher, first turned to Etsy to serve as the springboard for sales of her metalwork, which began gaining momentum because of their unique concept. Soon, this online exposure caught the attention of several publications, and her tags were featured Modern Dog Magazine, Country Living and City Dog Magazine, among others.

She says baking the dog treats evolved into creating cute personalized dog bandanas and accessories for fairs and craft shows, which developed into her desire to make more customized pet ID tags. "So many out there on the market are just the Petsmart-like type on blue metal stamped with a machine," says Long.

So Long began hand-stamping designs and names into 18-guage copper, as well as brass, silver, gold and other metals. She'll also use recycled metals any chance she can get her hands on them. "I always loved the characteristics of copper and how it ages," she says.

Pet ID Brass Bar Brass Bar pet ID Tag

Photograph Courtesy of Tessa Long

After more tinkering and research into different instruments in the market, Long found the perfect formula using her stamps, ball peen hammers and specialty hammers with indentations like bubbles and polka dots on a variety of surfaces - from cinder blocks to old railroad rails.

"A lot of the materials I use aren't sold in a metalworks store," she says.

Sometimes Long will even submerge the copper tags in a bath of liver of sulphur, which sprays a rainbow of colors, depending on what elements are living in the hot water being used at the time.

Since quitting her teaching job about a year and a half ago and earning a master's degree in technical communications, Long has set up her hammering studio in the finished basement of her home situated about 100 miles outside of St. Louis, Mo. She lives with her husband three dogs: Hollie, a black lab; Sofia, a Westie; and Ryder, a toy Australian Shepherd (Pablo sadly lost his battle to bone cancer in March.)

Her overall company, Hattie Rex, features the pet ID tags, plus customized hand-made metal jewelry and wine charms. Today, her work can be purchased online, or at 15 specialty stores across the globe.

Resources:

Tessa Long, Make Your Dog Smile Pet ID Tags. Find her on Etsy: makeyourdogsmile.etsy.com.

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