What I am working on now

Documenting a process. I am slowly working on describing the steps I use in creating original artwork for the photo-etching technique I use to produce pattern on sheet metal.

fern photo 5
color photo of fern

I find that starting with my own photos gives me a way to create unique patterns that express my interests. These patterns can be applied in many different ways… ending with a great variety of “results” depending on the choices made along the way. Just three of the many possible results are featured in this post as examples. Only three cuffs for now, but I also have ring bands and pendants from the same photo.

Cuff bracelet
Cuff bracelet with fern print
Cuff above was first colored with heat and then a chemical patina was applied.

fern cuff with LOS
Fern Cuff with LOS only
Cuff above has a simple LOS patina only.

Fern Cuff with Guilder's paste
Fern Cuff with Guilder’s paste and LOS
Cuff above was first colored with both gold and silver Gilder’s paste, and then with LOS.

Edit May 5, 2013 – I keep starting and stopping with this “tutorial” project because I am not sure I have anything new, or sufficiently different, to add to what is already available on the subject. Just do a Google search for “how to etch metal at home” and you will be overwhelmed by the results. Or an image search for “etched copper jewelry” and many of the results will take you to instructions. This is a VERY popular technique with lots of variations for every part of the process… start to finish. Plus, how useful would instructions for preparing an image from a photo be for someone who doesn’t have Photoshop for transforming the photos? Will Photoshop Elements work? How about the free photo editing programs? One large tutorial or many smaller ones for each step? Lots to think about. Meanwhile, I think I’ll simply report on what is working for me as a way of sharing.

The larger etching tank

The small power source (see Feb. 14 post for photo) works perfectly well for the larger etching set-up I made for cuff sized blanks and roll printing plates. I would still like to have a power source that would allow for setting the voltage to 1.5V. The little black one only goes down to 3V at a preset 2amp.

etching tank
larger etching tank set-up
larger etch tank
another view of larger etch tank

I used an acrylic display case designed for model cars for this tank that accommodates a 3″ wide X 6″ long (or smaller) piece. The tank is 4 1/2″w x 9″l x 5″h. The closer the anode is to the cathode, the faster the etch. The “wings” on the cathode and anode supports help to keep the plates parallel in the tank as well as providing a place for attaching the leads that is away from the water.

A deep etch on 18g brass took 3 hours. I used a soft brush to clean off both the anode and the cathode several times during the process. I plan to use this plate for roll printing a few copper cuff blanks, and then perhaps use it to make a cuff… or maybe will cut it up for several pendants.

fern design for roll printing
deeply etched brass plate with fern design

The black on the plate shown above is the lazer toner resist. I removed this with Citrasolv before using the plate for roll printing silver for a ring band.
etched plate with print
etched fern plate with printed silver

I used the etched brass plate to roller print an 18g sterling strip to use for a ring band.