Introduction: How to Make Anything Copper
its called Electroforming!
Electroforming is a metal forming process that forms parts through electrodeposition or electroplating
Everything You Need to Know to Get Started is in this instructable/ video
Electroforming seems a lot more difficult than it actually is.
you can get started for around $100 and make some really stunning pieces
Step 1: Shopping List
-root kill -5 ft of copper pipe -10ft of 12awg wire -acetone
hobby lobby or craft store of your choice
-3 small glasses containers -indiaink -mod podge -paint brushes
miralax -better homes and gardens 4.5 cup container
Dollar store -
mixing container -mixing spoon -measuring cup -superglue -baking soda -flavor syringe
auto parts store -
Step 2: Mixing
- Firstly I recommend that you always wear gloves and eye protection when mixing
- always better safe than sorry
- 16 oz of rootkill
- 2 quarts of very hot water
Once the water is hot enough to dissolve the crystals pour in the root kill and stir outside or in a really well ventilated area with a respirator on
I recommend while you're at the dollar store to pick up a plastic stirring utensil like a spoon and this should go without saying, throw it away after use you don't want to accidentally ingest some copper and sulfuric acid,
Once it stirred let it cool down
I use a flavor syringe instead of pouring out is sulfuric acid into a measuring cup because it's less likely to spill and you get a really accurate measurement
- Measure out 16 ml and inject it into the solution and stir thoroughly
Once everything thoroughly stirred you can add the brightener
- measure 1/2 teaspoon of miralax and mix to the solution
- label your solution so no accidents happen
Step 3: Tank Setup
It's a lot easier to set up a tank dry if you pour the solution and chances are you're going to have to adjust something and then it's going to be more messy
4 equal length of copper pipe and connected them with 12 AWG wire
I got a pair of pliers and twisted the wire to where the pipes could not slide through and I was able to pick both of them up by the wire in between
Do this one more time and your anodes are done
To connect the two anodes from one spot I soldered on to alligator clips on one piece of the 12 AWG wire and once you clamp the two wires on both of the anodes you have electricity going to one large anode
For the cathode it's pretty easy just get one bar or small copper pipe a quarter inch at the thickest and flatten the edge and have it run across the middle of the tank you're going to have to make hooks to dangle what your electro forming into the bath and a smaller diameter will save you I'm having to use a lot of extra copper wire
Fill it up and the tanks done
make sure to take out your anodes if you are done electroforming
if you dont it will leach more copper into the solution and throw off the ratio!
if that does happen take out all of the anodes except one and plate something overnight to starve your solution and get it back to the right ratio
Step 4: Conductive Paint and Making the Base
so if you use baking soda and superglue it makes a rock solid bond that is perfect for this application.
put one small drop of super glue where you want to bond your piece then sprinkle baking soda on it and it will solidify instantly.
this is perfect for adding necklace loops and decorative pieces of rock or wire
- if you want just pure graphite mix with acetone and the acetone will evaporate when appealed
- if you are trying to seal and object mixing graphite into PvA glue or mod podge will make a pretty durable sealing conductive paint
- If you want high detail that is really durable mix India ink with graphite
if you want a more smooth finish operated the lower voltage for longer if you want a plate really fast with a lot of organic movement have the voltage a little higher
Step 5: Power Supply
hook up the red lead to the anode and the black lead to the cathode
make hooks like this to dangle the thing you want to electroform
to start out set voltage in between 1 and 2 volts
make sure that the piece isn't touching the bottom of the container or it will short out
make sure to take out your anodes if you are done electroforming if you dont it will leach more copper into the solution and throw off the ratio! if that does happen take out all of the anodes except one and plate something overnight to starve your solution and get it back to the right ratio
Step 6: Finished
You are done!
this has slowly become one of my new favorite hobbies and I think once you get started you'll be hooked too
Participated in the
Question 1 year ago on Step 6
Do I need to dry my leaves before I electroplate them?
2 years ago
This looks like so much fun! I just showed the video to my roommate, and we're always outside finding things we think would be really cool to incorporate into our jewelry making.
I have questions about the electrical unit you're using to accomplish everything else you're showing us all here...Can you give some guidance please??
Thank you so much for all your time and attention.
Question 2 years ago on Step 4
What is the ratio for the conductive paint?
3 years ago
The Amazon links don't work
4 years ago
Thank you for this guide. I didn't quite get what namely you use to patinate your jewelry. Is it Na2S? Why do you pour soda on glue? And why use Miralax? So I understand that you use it because it contains PEG, but still why PEG is needed? Sorry for so many questions, I'm very interested in the subject :)
Reply 4 years ago
Thanks for taking a look at my instructable!
- I used liver of sulfur to patina the copper
I recommend this video for learning about different types of patinas
- when you put baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)
on super glue (cyanoacrylate) it hardens rock solid
immediately and fills small gaps
- mirialax is a brightener, its not essential,
it makes the copper that gets electroformed shiny and bright
Reply 4 years ago
Thank you very much for your responce and for sharing cool video about patina :)
4 years ago
Very interesting stuff, and totally new to me. Thank you for sharing!!
Reply 4 years ago
No problem! I'm glad you found it interesting /useful