Monday, March 3, 2008

Working out the etching bugs

I'm finally starting to work out the bugs in my silver etching process, which is good, because I can't afford to waste any more silver! The trick is apparently to let the resist dry for a good long time before putting the piece into the nitric acid. When etching copper in ferric chloride, it wasn't a problem, but the nitric acid is a lot harder on the resist. These earrings are my lastest silver etching- I got a nice deep etch on them and the pattern shows up very well.



Jessica said...

Thanks for commenting on my blog! I have wanted to learn etching for some time. I even bought the supplies for etching brass a year or so ago and never tried it. Your work is fantastic!

Copperheart said...

you should definately try it! It's so much fun. I've been meaning to add brass to my etched metal work.

Pamela Caughey said...

Hi Copperheart,

I have just discovered you, your blog, and your Etsy website and am thrilled! I am very interested in working with copper, and have been working with copper, getting ready to transition over to the very $$ silver world. Like you, I am an artist and studied first at the Univ of WI-Madison then later got my MFA in Montana recently at Univ of Montana. I have a few questions for you--what do you do about untreated copper turning skin green--or is that not a problem for you? I've been making earring wires, dipping them in liver of sulfur, and then either coating them with an allergy safe jewlery coating (kind of like a nail polish) to prevent eventual buyers' ears from turning green. Also, as for etching silver with the nitric acid, what special precautions do you take; I've kind of been avoiding this process not only because I can't afford the silver sheet, but because of the caustic nitric acid. I just spent the last year in the land of toxicity (working with resins and encaustic) so thought I'd give my poor body a rest. So glad to meet you! Pam : )

Copperheart said...

Hi Pam,
I actually always use silver for earwires and chains, so I don't use any sealant on the pendants and earring charms, because they don't make constant enough contact with skin to cause a problem.
As for the nitric acid, I actually don't use it anymore because I no longer have studio space separate from my living space. When I used to use it, I just had ventilation in the area, safety glasses and rubber gloves, and a cup of water and baking soda to neutralize my tongs and the pieces coming out of the acid. I used the pre-mixed nitric acid etching solution from Rio Grande so I wouldn't have to handle full strength acid or worry about mixing it.

ltcsig said...

Hi. This is another Pam who really appreciates your blog. Thank you for the tutorials.
We just moved into a house that needs lots of work, but has a studio space for me;-)
I purchased some muratic acid to clean scale out of a granite fountain pool. After reading up in it. I have a healthy fear of using it. But have a whole gallon!
We are replacing the flat roof next week and the whole thing is lined with copper on the edges-3 separate sections- 5000 square feet!
Five roofers have all told me they cannot reuse it. (I have a hard time taking no for an answer)
So I've been looking for ways to use the copper: large sculpture...
But then I found your tutorial for etching.
Here's the question:
Do you think I could use the Muratic on the copper?

Copperheart said...

Hi Pam,
first of all let me say that I have never tried this myself- there are tutorials on the internet for etching with a combination of muriatic acid and hydrogen peroxide. Here's one that looks pretty good.!--A-better-etc/
Just be safe and you should be fine. Good luck!

Vera said...

Hi Copperheart, I noticed you like electro-etching copper with salt water. Did you know you can do the same process to etch silver if you put silver nitrate in the water instead of salt? I wrote a detailed tutorial on the process which you can read on (look in the section called champleve notebook) and you can see some of my electro-etched silver pieces on my website

Copperheart said...

Thank you so much for that information Vera!