Monday, May 10, 2010

Off into the wild blue yonder

I'm heading out to WI for a month and a half. I'll be at the Bead & Button show, helping out my friends at their booth. See you all when I get back!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

My first copper etching experiment!

I'm still in the process of picking up a few more things, but I really wanted to try etching this weekend, so I went ahead and did a practice piece.

I picked up a lot of different sizes of pendants from Rings & Things, and decided to go with a small piece at first, because the larger pieces seem like they'll be more conducive to the designs I want to make.

I'm in the process of converting my sunporch into a workshop. Tons of ventilation, light (both natural and electrical), electrical outlets, and there's even a phone jack. Plus, the view is gorgeous. Here's the table with its messy array of items:

I cleaned up the table a little, and put down a vinyl protective cover that my uncle made from me, and rearranged things so that everything I need is on the table. Everything else is stashed all over the place, but that will change once I bring a rack into the room.

Since I do not currently have a laserjet printer, I decided to go for a simpler resist: a Sharpie marker. I drew a little test pattern on the piece.

Then, while coating the back and sides with more marker, I slipped, so I ended up adding a little more resist to the edges and front. I'll have to remember to be very careful in the future, or simply wipe it off and start again.

I'm using the electrolytic method, where you put the pendant in a salt & water bath and then hang another piece of copper opposite it. You then run an electrical charge through both pieces--positive to the pendant, negative to the scrap piece--and eventually the parts of your pendant that are not coated with resist will be eaten away.

I've just started the air pump, which is connected to an airstone I've immersed in the water, which will keep the water mixing and allow the pendant to etch faster.

After a half hour or so, the solution changed color.

After taking it out of the solution and using rubbing alcohol to clean off the marker, the pendant looked like this:

I then applied liver of sulfur to patina it, and rubbed off the highlights with a polishing pad.

In the future I will have to be more careful. I must have missed the bottom edge, because you can see that there's a bit that was eaten away. Also, I think some of the marker smudged, because the design in the lower right hand corner isn't very clear.

All in all, I think it was a pretty helpful experiment. I look forward to learning more about this technique.