Looking Back… and Forward

binders for classes
Teaching Materials

This won’t be “news” to friends, family, and students, however, others may not know, so here is my big announcement:

Six months ago (August 2013) I officially retired from Monterey Peninsula College where I taught Jewelry and Metal Arts classes for nearly 30 years! Over the years, as a part-time instructor, I taught more than 20 different special topic classes in addition to the basic and advanced metals classes… some more than 40 times, a few only once. I really enjoyed the research, writing, sample making, and learning, that went into every class I taught. The binders full of instruction, photos, resource lists, etc., that I created for each class, are a record of those classes and also a reminder of the many wonderful students who made teaching such a fulfilling endeavor. Their enthusiasm, creativity, and appreciation, helped keep my own creative energy flowing.

I am frequently asked, “Are you enjoying retirement?” Well… yes and no. I like having more time for my own work and for gardening, but I miss teaching. I miss the camaraderie of the classroom, as well as the focus required for preparing new demos and improving on content. I am thinking about how I can continue, or return to, the process somehow. Since so many are sharing their knowledge via the web, maybe this is the way; it is certainly something to think about. For now, I am working on updating and expanding a PowerPoint presentation that I can convert to a PDF for sharing here. This one is for Color on Metal, a workshop I presented in 2010. Meanwhile, here is one sample that I created for that class:

color on metal - paint
acrylic paint sample

Water based acrylic paint on textured copper.

Electro-etching safety concerns

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Since posting the information below regarding the use of kosher salt for etching metal, I have continued to research the technique and now know that I was right to question the safety issues involved. I stopped using the salt and will be switching to using copper nitrate instead. Anyone interested can read about this in the excellent, well illustrated 13 page PDF created by Ben Dory.

Copper Nitrate-Electro Etching instruction

Once I have it all up and working again, I’ll post my results.

Anyone interested in etching metal in their own studios should read this excellent book first. Coral Schaffer covers a great variety of techniques, including (but not limited to) electro-etching. In particular, I value the safety information provided for the various methods included in the book.

Etching instructions
Relief Etching for Jewelers and Enamelists

In reading many blogs and posts related to electro-etching with salt water and some power source (including batteries), I see that most think of the salt water methods as “safer” than methods using ferric chloride. This is a misconception in my opinion. While salt water may be less messy, cheaper, and easy to make, it is only as “safe” as the methods used. It still results in copper dissolved in a solution that is bad for the environment, not safe for contact with skin, eyes, etc.. The copper rich salt water must be disposed of at a hazardous waste drop-off location.

If you etch with salt water, follow all safety instructions carefully. Gloves, eye protection, good ventilation, and proper disposal of copper rich water.