cheapo engravable blanks--squish pennies?
This year I was recruited to help breathe new life into my kid's school carnival. I am a professional artist (sculptor) with a good assortment of tools and skills.
One of the things I did was to run the Engraving Booth--we had some leftover cheesey (really, really cheesey) blank bracelets for engraving with a hand electric engraver. Everyone I talk to in this area remembers engraving from their school carnival; these blanks we are using may be leftovers from 20 years ago.
We brought these things out from storage for this year's carnival, and they were a HUGE hit, and we actually made some money for the school doing this. (At times I was doing 3/minute and at the end of the 2 hours my hand was in real pain.)
Anyway, we have run out of blank bracelets, and I have searched the internet high and low for something usable for this purpose (doesn't have to be bracelets). No luck. Anything I use must be very, very cheap (cost pennies) or it won't be feasible. I have thought of getting scrap sheet copper cut up (maybe a heating and air shop would do it for free since it's for the school) and then smoothing the edges in my vibratory tumbler, but this seems too complicated.
So I was looking at a souvenir smashed penny my kid got at Rainforest Cafe Restaurant. There is a machine there (like the ones at boardwalks and other tourist traps) where you feed the penny in and turn the crank. The machine squashes your penny into an oval shape and puts a new design on it. I got to thinking that if I could squish pennies (I'm thinking NOT on the railroad track because these are for children and that's not a good example) into plain flat ovals, they would be perfect. And cheap.
OK I'm finally getting around to my questions:
1)Any advice on squishing pennies? (See below for annealing questions)
2)Any other ideas for making or buying blanks for this purpose?
I have been shopping for jeweler's rolling mills for this purpose (a little expensive--several years to pay back), but if it works really well I might do this). Also, WRT squishing pennies, can anyone tell me what the difference would be between rolling old (pure copper) pennies and squishing newer copper-plated ones? (other than having the inside of the penny peek through--this is a minor cosmetic issue that wouldn't bother me.) A rolling mill vendor tells me for the old pennies I would need to anneal them once every three passes through the mill. It might be different for the newer pennies. Could I get away without annealing them???? I know at Rainforest Cafe and other commercial rolling machines, they manage to squish pennies without annealing. Must be one awesome amount of pressure, like a train.
Sorry this is so long. When I don't know where to turn for an answer, I always end up at Gardenweb forums.
Thanks in advance!!!!