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Make an original geode pendant of your very own!  

Or...

Have you ever seen natural objects that look like they have been "dipped" in metal?  Have a special non-metallic treasure that you want to make into a pendant without drilling a hole in it?  You can use the same principles of electroforming to make your own unique pieces!

Step 1: Materials

What you will need:

1.  Rectifier -  I am using a 3 amp, which is more than sufficient for the copper electroforming that I am doing.  You can purchase a rectifier, or you can create one yourself, but the important thing is to be able to fine tune the voltage and amps while working with your piece.

2.  Positive and negative lead wires to attach to the rectifier and your work set up

3.  Glass beaker or container deep enough to hold your piece

4.  Copper electroforming solution -  I bought mine from riogrande.com.

5.  Copper conductive paint -  I bought mine from Safer Solutions, and it can be thinned using distilled water (very handy)

6.  Copper anode  -  I am using about 2 ft of 8 gauge solid copper wire from my local hardware store.

7.  Copper wire -   I am using 24 gauge copper wire from a local craft store

8.  Distilled water

9.  Rubber gloves

10.  Eye protection

11.  Small paint brush

12.  Super glue and/or Jewelers glue
 - I prefer superglue

13.  Metal jump rings to attach to your pendant

14.  Brass brush - If your anode becomes dull, shine it back up with a brass brush!

15.  Chopsticks to support your piece being held in the solution

16.  Something to electroform!  In this Instructable, I am using a geode slice



Optional or case sensitive:  
- Clear Laquer - this would be used prior to painting your pieces if your piece is organic and may deteriorate in the copper electroforming solution, like leaves or flowers
- chains to finish your pendant

Step 2: Attach Rings

-To begin, take your piece and decide how you want it to be worn.  Often with pendants, you will just want to attach a ring to the top of the piece to hang it straight up and down, but there are many different ways to choose from.  It is up to you!  I am attaching two rings- one to each end of my pendant.

-Now, using the super glue or jewelers glue, attach a jump ring to your piece.  Make sure that inside of the ring remains free of glue.  Unless you have 3 hands, it might be useful to employ clothes pins to hold your piece.  I also use an old hairbrush to support my pieces while they dry.  Drying times will vary, but make sure that the glue is entirely dry before you move on.

***If you are electroforming an organic object that will not hold up in the solution, you must lacquer the piece before moving forward.  Sometimes I lacquer an object both before and after attaching a ring, it all depends on how fragile your piece is.*****

Step 3: Conductive Paint

Now that the glue is dry, paint the parts of your object that you want to "grow" copper on using the copper conductive paint.  I am painting the edges of my geode.  

Be sure to completely cover the glued area in paint.  If your ring is not copper, I would suggest adding a thin layer of paint to the ring as well.

Step 4: Prepare Your Piece

Now you are almost ready to electroform your pendant.

Take your 24 gauge copper wire and wrap it around your piece 2-3 times extending the two ends about 3 inches off the same side of your piece.  Be sure that the wrapped wire comes in direct contact with the painted parts in a few places-  this will create a better flow of current across the area that you need to electroform.  Take the extended ends of your wires and wrap around the chopsticks so that they will hold your piece.

You can see what I have done from the photograph.  The important part is that the wire comes in contact with the painted part of your piece, and that the piece can hang far enough down into the solution to be submerged.

Step 5: Electroform Bath Setup

-If you are using 8 gauge  copper wire for your anode, wrap it in circles around the interior of your beaker or glass container like a spring.  Make sure that one end comes up out of the glass so that you can attach the positive lead wire.  This set up insures that your piece will be completely surrounded by the anode, and I find that I have the best coverage on my piece.

-Prepare a bowl or small tub of distilled water to rinse your piece in

-Put on your gloves and goggles!

-With the anode in place in the glass container, carefully pour the Copper electroforming solution into the container.  

-Lay the chopstick support across the container so that your piece is entirely submerged in the solution.


Step 6: Its Electric!

Almost there...

-With the rectifier still UNPLUGGED and OFF, attach the positive red and negative black lead wires to the rectifier.

-Attach the black negative lead wire to the copper wire extending up from the chopstick support.  Make sure you have a good connection.

-Attach the red positive lead wire to the copper anode extending out of the glass container.

-NOW you can plug your rectifier in and turn it on.  I tend to get the best results with the Amp reading at about .1 for every square inch of painted surface.  For this piece, my voltage dial is set for about .3-.4 volts.



***If you are not getting an amp reading, it is possible that you do not have a good connection with the copper wire to your piece.  Turn off your rectifier, unplug it, remove the lead wire from your piece.  Now rinse the piece in the distilled water and adjust the wrapped copper wire to make a better connection, and try again.

Step 7: Waiting!

It won't take long for the copper to begin displacing from the anode onto your pendant.  

-After about 30 minutes, turn off your rectifier and check your piece to see that things are running smoothly.

*If the copper on the piece is bright and shiny, everything is working perfectly.  If it is a dull salmon color, try increasing your voltage a tiny bit.  Small copper deposits will naturally form on the wire around your piece, but if they are forming too quickly, or knobs of copper are forming on your pendant itself, turn the voltage down just a bit, and brush the knobs off before they become permanent.


-If everything is going well, leave the pendant in the solution, checking it every 45 minutes or so, until the desired copper coverage and thickness are obtained.   When you check it, move the wire around a bit on the piece to make sure it is not adhering to the pendant itself...if you don't do this, the wire could become a permanent fixture.


I left my geode pendant in the bath for around 3 hours.

Step 8: Finish!

-Now that the copper has formed just like you wanted it to, WITH GLOVES ON, turn off the rectifier, unplug it, remove your piece from the solution and rinse in distilled water tub.  *Regular water will work, but sometimes it contains minerals that will discolor the new metal coating on your piece*

You can use the Copper Electroforming solution over and over again, but between uses, remove the copper anode and carefully funnel the solution back into its bottle.  


Your piece should be finished!  Now you can put it on a chain, string, or anything else you've designed!

<p>Brilliant step by step tutorial, making something i thought would be super complex doable at home! Looking forward to trying this. </p>
<p>Hi there,</p><p>Thanks so much for the tutorial this is awesome! I'm totally new to this and want to buy a rectifier asap to get started but I'm really confused as to what I'm specifically looking for. I'm based in the UK. Is it just a power supply thats needed? I searched &quot;30V/5A Single-Output DC Power Supply&quot; on Amazon UK and bunch of good priced options came up but I've no idea if these are ok! I'd really appreciate some advice if you have the time. Thanks!</p>
<p>What type of jump rings did you use? I am only finding 4.2mm for Copper and that is a little larger than I would like to use! Does it matter what type of metal or are there certain ones that work better than others?</p>
I always used copper jump rings, and honestly it was whatever I could find at Michael's because I always seemed to run out and need more quickly. You can always order something smaller from Rio Grande or just see what you can find at a craft store. Sorry that is not a super helpful answer! In theory other metals would work fine too, I just always stuck with copper.
<p>Hi, awesome tutorial! I'm looking for a conductive spray for very small detailed items such as honey bee's. i cannot seem to find anything in the US : ( if not, do you know anything about using an airbrush unit ?</p><p>Thanks so much, </p>
<p>What causes the round deposits of copper around edges when electroforming? I've attached an example I found on the web.</p>
I had a question regarding the plating process .. <br><br>For example i have a few stalactite pieces that iwant to plate. Do i have to coat the entire piece with laquer to protect the stone ? <br><br>Also, when plating the copper element on of i wanted to upgrade to silver do i have to flash plate a layer of nickle first ? I.e copper - nickle - silver - nickle - gold ? Im just trying to figure out a routine so ican get going ! :) i would appreciate the help. <br><br>Wonderful instructables btw.
Glad you like the instructable! Ok, let me see...<br><br>Do you need to lacquer the stone? That entirely depends on what the stone is made of, and whether the acid bath might have an effect on it. The geode from the instructable itself did not need to be lacquered, but I do lacquer pieces of mica and definitely shells. You may or may not have to, but the only way that I know of to find out is to do a little test by putting it in the acid and see if there is any reaction. If the stone is sturdy, you probably will not need to.<br><br>If you want to plate silver or gold, my experience says you are going to need to flash plate in nickel first. Honestly I am not certain if this will happen with silver, but I know that with gold, the ions of the copper and gold will mix over time if they are in direct contact and cause your gold to begin to look copper- definitely not something you want. I have always read that you need to flash plate before silver as well, so I am going out on a limb and assuming it is for the same reason.<br><br>Hopefully that helps a bit!<br>
<p>I've been looking at beautiful electroformed crystal necklaces on Etsy and I'd love love to learn how to electroform (as I'm quite crafty), but have NO idea how to start, where to start, aside for gathering the actual equipement. Is there a manual or book you could suggest to read or any resources online that expand on the subject? Thanks!</p>
Amazing ty for the quick reply! Youre phenomenal ! Ty for sharing your knowledge ! Much appreciated ! Will post pictures of finished products, again thanks for your blog! :)
<p>Hi! I was wondering what kind of clear lacquer could be used? I have some shells and stones I'd like to electroplate but can't seem to find any lacquers that fit my needs; most seem to be for copper to protect from tarnishing. Could something like that be used?</p>
Could you do something similar with a gold plating pen?
Hello! :) very good instructable. I'm having trouble though adjusting the current and voltage. It seems I can't move one without the other one moving. Is this a problem with the 3 amp I have? I know you said you need to be able to fine tune it. The pic below is the amp I currently have
<p>So I just got new solution I got three pieces done successfully. Ive filtered the solution shined up my anode also added brightner to the solution and they are still coming our dull. HELPP!!! PLEASEEE :)</p>
Are you heating the solution stall? I used to &amp; if it got too warm, my pieces would go dull salmon pink. I don't warm my solution at all any more. I've also heard if the power is too low, things can also be dull.
<p>Cristina, I've had the same issue. It seems the first few uses of solution creates shiney results then after that you get dull results no matter how much brightener you use. I believe this happens cause the acid in the solution gets depleted but that's what they say use the brightener for. I just take a brass brush &amp; give it a nice scrub &amp; it will shine it up nicely. Check out my blog where I'm talking all about my learnings from electroforming: pinealvisionjewelry.com/electroforming </p>
<p>Hi, Just wondering if anyone has used organic things that are not dried out? Like leaves or flowers. I did a day class on electroforming &amp; was told things had to be completely dry. If you have used fleshy leaves (not dried) or flowers, does anything else need to be done when finished? I've heard people talking about 'burning out' leaves once electroformed, but I've never done it.</p>
Also...does your wire scratch the paint off at all? Mine does a bit
Hi there! Thanks for the tutorial, it's hard to find good ones when first starting electroforming!! Quick question, when you wrap your piece in that wire won't the copper grow around the entire geode then..? How did you remove the conductive wire wrapped around without seeing where it was? <br>Thanks!
<p>Gorgeous! Could you please answer a few questions for me? I tried doing this with a shard of stained glass and it worked beautifully! But then I tried doing this on a rhodonite cabochon, and the solution ate away the polished surface a bit. I have some lacquer that I got from Rio Grande to use on the surface for next time. How many coats do you suggest? And secondly, If I wanted to electroplate onto a geode, would it need to be lacquered as well? I wondered if the solution also eats away at the geode's surface. </p>
Hi Angela! Let's see...<br><br>I generally have used maybe 2 coats of lacquer when needed, but one can be sufficient if it is a nice continuous coat. <br><br>And my geode I did not have to lacquer, but I have done it both ways. Not knowing whether the chemical solution will eat away at the surface makes me cautiously say you might want to lacquer it...just be sure to use a small cheapo plastic paint brush or something to pop any bubbles in the lacquer on the inner part of the geode.<br><br>Good Luck!
<p>Thank you for posting your instructable, it was very thorough and informative. not to mention clever. After reading yours and your post responses I decided to try copper plating a leaf which only had the veins remaining. As fragile as it was it went extremely well, and it looks beautiful!</p>
Excellent! Post a picture if you can!
<p>I found a supplier for the rectifier you have - great price, too. Are the clips and wires something that will come with it or that you buy separately? If so, what would I search under?</p>
<p>Hi, </p><p>Do you mind sharing where you got the rectifier from?</p><p>Thank you..</p>
<p>I found it on Amazon.</p><p>http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0094DCOAI/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&amp;psc=1</p>
<p>Amazing! Thank you for this link! I have a $200 budget &amp; this is way less expensive than the one on rio grande! I was starting to contemplate using a 6v battery.</p>
It was out of stock but I managed to find it. Thank you.<br>I am trying to do this the economic way! <br>You would happen to know if this unit can be used for etching aswell?
<p>I have no idea; sorry.</p>
This is the rectifier I have, and I purchased it from RioGrande.com as well:<br><br>http://www.riogrande.com/Product/Digital-3-Amp-Plating-Rectifier/335201?Pos=9
<p>Hey thanks for the tutorial! I was just wondering how you filter your solution and roughly how long do you wait to change your anode?</p>
Hey Christina-<br> I use a funnel with a coffee filter in it to filter my solution, easy as that. As for the anode, it entirely depends. If you keep it shiny by brushing it and cleaning it with the brass brush or steel wool, then you can pretty much use it until it is so eaten away that it nearly falls apart. Using the thick copper wire I have still not yet had to change it, only clean it up...and I highly recommend the thick wire as compared with a flat anode as it seems to get a more even layer all around the piece.
<p>This is amazing! I have some jewelry coated like this, and I've always wondered how to make my own. Thank you for writing this awesome instructable! I feel inspired to learn how to do it, both in copper and other metals!</p>
So glad you like it!
<p>Hi!! I would assume that it would make a thicker casing if I were to paint more than one coat, is that correct? Say I am going for a more dramatic piece, should I only paint it once and go through the whole process only to repeat? Thanks so much!</p>
You might do two coats of paint just to get solid coverage, but not for volume. If you want a more dramatic and thicker layer of copper then you will need to leave it in he electroforming solution for several hours. It is about building up the copper, not about the bulk of the paint.
<p>When it's finished in the last step, the wire around the geode has a thick coating of copper around it. Is it hard to remove the wire from the object? It just looks like it shouldn't allow such a smooth finished copper surface. I'm just trying to wrap my brain around it haha.</p>
Yes, the copper builds up on the wire also. The key to making certain that it does not &quot;attach&quot; itself to the piece during the electroforming is to simply move it a bit whenever you check the piece. As long as you check it every, oh, 30 or 45 minutes then this should not be a problem. I have never had wire stick to the piece such that it causes a problem with the smoothness.
<p>One other question: I noticed you can buy a 5 amp. Would the 3 be enough for rhodium plating? I can't find any information on riogrande's site.</p>
<p>Hi again! Have you tried electroplating more than one piece at a time in the solution? I feel that it would be a good time saver since it takes about 30-45 minutes do one piece. I wonder if it would change the end result finish at all. What are your thoughts if you have tried this?</p>
You absolutely can, and I have, but you may need to keep the pieces in there longer, depending on how well and how quickly the copper is building up on the piece. Overall you probably will save some time, but I would still recommend only doing 2 or possibly 3 pieces if you have a slightly bigger &quot;tank&quot; and check often to make sure the copper is going on shiny.
Awesome tutorial and great info in the Q and As!!!<br><br>A couple of questions, not sure if you've answered these before:<br><br>I do a lot of lost wax casting, so I'm used to the original burning out... <br><br>Have you had any issues with the organic pieces deteriorating (rotting? Idk...) after long wear of work? Like if they weren't sealed perfectly to begin with or if the copper layer gets punctured later.<br><br>Is the electroplated coating somewhat 'sticky'? In other words, if I'm making something with a stone, does the copper part have to behave sort of like a mechanical setting, or will it just stick to the stone?<br><br>Can the finished pieces be tumbled, soldered or enameled on?<br><br>Can this be done with sterling or fine silver?<br><br>Thank you in advance!!!
<p>Hi Eilen- Sorry for the delayed response! Let's see...</p><p>I personally have not had problems with the organic pieces deteriorating, though it is crucial that you make sure the entire organic piece is covered in copper paint and then allow a thick enough layer of copper to build up while electroforming. If the copper layer is too thin, the piece could still break. Also, fyi, I like to superglue leaves on small branches, for example, in place before painting them so that they do not move before I get the copper layer on them.</p><p>The copper layer is only &quot;sticky&quot; if it is a thick enough layer, otherwise it could peel off of the stone. When I have done stones in the past, I have painted the entire end so that they look &quot;dipped&quot; in copper and I have not had any problems with it coming off or apart.</p><p>I have no clue if you could tumble the pieces or not...I have never tried. As for soldering or enameling, after you get the piece electroformed with a good thick layer, then all of the normal rules should apply in terms of applying heat and soldering, etc. The real question is whether the piece you electroformed, a stone for example, could withstand the heat, etc. Enameling- I do not know much about it so I cannot answer fully.</p><p>And lets see... You can plate a piece that you have electroformed, but you would still, as far as I know, need to put a layer of copper on first. For silver specifically, I am not sure, but likely you would need to flash plate with nickel first to create a barrier between the copper and the silver. This may not be necessary, but I know that for gold it is because the copper ions will eventually mix with the gold and the piece will look more coppery than gold over time. Anyhow, plating with silver would require a different set of chemicals for the reaction. Your best bet is to take a look at some of the supplies needed. riogrand.com is a good place to look, even if you do not buy from them.</p><p>I hope that helps a little!</p>
Thank you!!!<br><br>I think I'll have to try this and play with all the possibilities! <br><br>I'll let you know if anything interesting happens :)
<p>Hi Eilen- Sorry for the delayed response! Let's see...</p><p>I personally have not had problems with the organic pieces deteriorating, though it is crucial that you make sure the entire organic piece is covered in copper paint and then allow a thick enough layer of copper to build up while electroforming. If the copper layer is too thin, the piece could still break. Also, fyi, I like to superglue leaves on small branches, for example, in place before painting them so that they do not move before I get the copper layer on them.</p><p>The copper layer is only &quot;sticky&quot; if it is a thick enough layer, otherwise it could peel off of the stone. When I have done stones in the past, I have painted the entire end so that they look &quot;dipped&quot; in copper and I have not had any problems with it coming off or apart.</p><p>I have no clue if you could tumble the pieces or not...I have never tried. As for soldering or enameling, after you get the piece electroformed with a good thick layer, then all of the normal rules should apply in terms of applying heat and soldering, etc. The real question is whether the piece you electroformed, a stone for example, could withstand the heat, etc. Enameling- I do not know much about it so I cannot answer fully.</p><p>And lets see... You can plate a piece that you have electroformed, but you would still, as far as I know, need to put a layer of copper on first. For silver specifically, I am not sure, but likely you would need to flash plate with nickel first to create a barrier between the copper and the silver. This may not be necessary, but I know that for gold it is because the copper ions will eventually mix with the gold and the piece will look more coppery than gold over time. Anyhow, plating with silver would require a different set of chemicals for the reaction. Your best bet is to take a look at some of the supplies needed. riogrand.com is a good place to look, even if you do not buy from them.</p><p>I hope that helps a little!</p>
<p>Hi! Thanks for the helpful information on how to do this kind of project. I have been wondering for quite some time. Can you use other metal paints other than copper, e.g. gold, silver, vermeil? </p><p>Thanks!</p><p>Ashley</p>
<p>Hey Ashley-</p><p>For electroforming, as far as I know, you will need to use copper. After you have a layer of copper built up on your piece, you can plate using another metal. The set up is similar but requires different chemicals and sometimes requires heated plates. As I mentioned in the next comment down, to do gold you will want to additionally flash plate with another metal like nickel to keep the copper and gold from mixing.</p><p>So YES you can eventually get other colors, but you have to start with copper and plate from there. Hope that helps!</p>
<p>Great Tutorial! I have one questions. Is it important to wait for the copper paint to completely dry before attaching the copper wire and putting the piece in the solution? And is so, how long does this usually take?</p>
<p>Definitely wait until the paint dries or else you will have marks in it from where the wire touches it and as you let the copper form on it while electroforming, those marks will be amplified, OR you could wind up with your copper wire melded onto the piece itself. It does not take so long to dry though, usually 30 to 45 minutes if the layer of paint is somewhat thin. I usually do 2-3 coats though, depending on how watery I have the paint. Good luck!</p>
<p>Great Tutorial! I have one questions. Is it important to wait for the copper paint to completely dry before attaching the copper wire and putting the piece in the solution? And is so, how long does this usually take?</p>

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