Thursday, March 14, 2013

Etching Some Metals

In preparation of making some layered mixed metal pendants, I decided to etch some metal. I have sheets of copper and brass that are perfect for large images that can be cut up into smaller pieces later.

This is the set-up I purchased from Volcano Arts a couple of years ago. Previously, I used a small container. This larger vessel allows me to etch much larger pieces of metal. Click HERE to go directly to the etching page on Christine's website.



The "tank" contains ferric chloride, which is used to etch copper, brass and nickel. The gizmo attached to it is like a fish tank bubble unit. Aerating the etchant gives a more even and result to the etching process and it speeds the whole thing up. It can take anywhere from 1 - 2 hours. The plain container method can take 5-6 hours.

Because I'm working in my kitchen and ferric chloride stains everything it touches, I but the whole set-up on a plastic lunch tray over newspaper -- just in case something splatters or I drop a piece. Don't ask.

This is a sheet of brass on which I used a rubber stamp and solvent ink (specifically for non-porous surfaces). The stamp has very fine lines and I was hoping I would get a good etch.


And I did!


This is a very detailed rubber stamp image that turned out better than I could have hoped. There are lots of little elements that I can saw out and use on the pendants.


Here is another great image on another piece of copper, also with lots of usable elements.


I also etched some small pre-cut copper shapes for earrings. You may recognize the shape from this post on enameling.


I've neutralized the etchant with a baking soda & water slurry and removed some of the residual etchant with denatured alcohol. I still need to polish it to prepare it for a liver of sulfur patina.

Yes, etching metal is a long process with many steps, but the results can be so wonderful. They help make your work unique, especially if you draw your own patterns onto the metal. Other things (besides Stazon ink) that work as an etch-resist are sharpie marker, nail polish, press-on letters, rubber cement.

Feel free to ask questions!

4 comments:

Patty Woodland said...

I can't wait to see the finished pieces!

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Cinnamon Jewellery said...

I love etching too. Beautiful designs!

sell art online said...

I am sculpture artist. But I tell you After watching this metal art. I can say I want to learn it too.
Very nice work thanks for sharing. ~ Carolina