Rolling textures onto metal doesn't have to involve pre-made texture plates. There are many materials around your house or yard that you can use to roll textures onto metal. Some of these materials you wouldn't necessarily think of in terms of jewelry: Things like corn husks, packing materials, and tree bark. Some of the materials will give strong impressions, and others will be more subtle; it all depends on the look you want. Experiment with different materials to get a feel for each of the textures and what effects you can make on metal. But whether subtle texture or strong, there are a few things to keep in mind before putting your metal through a rolling mill.
Always use annealed metal in your rolling mill. This may seem obvious, but it's an easy step to skip. Even if you buy dead-soft metal, there's the banging around it gets from shipping, not to mention the cutting and filing you need to do to get it ready to roll. And speaking of cutting and filing, finish the surface of your metal as much as you can before rolling. Ideally, you should reach a 600-grit finish. This applies even if you intend to saw shapes out of the metal after rolling it. You want to ensure that you won't sand off your texture because you didn't sand out scratches before rolling. To keep your material in place and ensure the most even imprint, always cushion the metal and material with pieces of cardstock that are slightly larger than the metal, and sandwich the cardstock in between two other pieces of metal before rolling. Finally, remember to use a reasonable pressure on your rollers; it is very easy to distort the metal and destroy the material. You want there to be some resistance, but it should not be a strain to roll.
Take a look at some of the textures that we've tried, and then get rolling!
Feathers make a beautiful texture on metal, despite their seeming softness. Use harder, stiff feathers, like the ones you'd use for quills, for tight, even textures. If you're using softer feathers, only use the end of the feather with the stiffer spines, like the spotted bits in the photo above. Don't use the downy parts; they won't give good textures.