Introduction: Mushroom Copper Pendant
This tutorial will teach you the basic steps of creating an electroformed copper pendant. The correct term is actually called copper plating and not "electroforming", however you will find that this is the way this art form is typically referred to. We will be using three sticky mediums: two part epoxy, superglue, and translucent liquid sculpey, which is essentially a craft glue that hardens when baked to bind pieces together. I have linked a few of these supplies below to make it easier to purchase everything you will need to get started. Let's jump in!
Create The Pendant
- -- Super Glue
- -- Super Glue Accelerator: https://amzn.to/2Pltiwf
- -- Apoxie Sculpt: https://amzn.to/3tMzWKw
- -- Translucent Liquid Sculpey: https://amzn.to/3uCHe4T
- -- Any Polymer Clay
- -- 20 gauge for pendant wire: https://amzn.to/2Qmkw1C
- -- Nail polish: https://amzn.to/3vN5mmh
- -- Graphite powder - mix with black matte acrylic paint to make conductive paint: https://amzn.to/3lBUm6I
- -- Wire cutting tools
For the Electroforming Solution
- -- Beaker: https://amzn.to/3vR24yj
- -- 12 gauge copper anode (for inside the beaker): https://amzn.to/3ragypH
- -- 24 gauge copper hanging wire: https://amzn.to/2P0OMyG
- -- Electroforming solution: https://bit.ly/36LQU1z
- -- Brightener - add this to your bath along with distilled water if you notice the solution is evaporating https://bit.ly/34RNadc
- -- Distilled Water
- -- Rectifier: https://amzn.to/33YX8eg (copy and paste)
After The Pendant is Copper Plated
- -- Dremel Stainless Steel Brush Wheel: https://amzn.to/3cc59kS
- -- A brass brush will also polish your piece if you don't have a Dremel: https://amzn.to/318a0xe
- -- Protectaclear: https://amzn.to/3tXUEb9 (optional)
- -- Liver of Sulphur to oxidize the copper: https://amzn.to/3lG0T0j (optional)
As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases linked in the material section.
Step 1: Sculpt the Mushrooms
Roll out a thin layer of polymer clay and use a round cutting tool to stamp small circles.
Place the small circles on the tip of a small tool or the end of a paintbrush and form the top of the mushroom. Remove the mushroom cap once you are happy with the shape and size.
After making several mushroom caps, bake the polymer clay as per the instructions on the label.
Let the caps cool and then add a drop of superglue inside the cap. Cut about an inch of 20g wire for your stem and place it in the center of the cap.
TIP: Use accelerator spray to instantly dry the glue.
Now, using translucent liquid sculpey, fill in the surrounding area around the stem inside of the cap. You want to make sure that the stem binds completely to the cap and does not move.
Bake the mushrooms a final time as per the instructions on the label.
Step 2: Use Epoxy to Sculpt the Base for the Mushrooms
Start with a large crystal, I recommend a quartz, citrine or amethyst as these are very strong durable stones.
Mix Apoxie Sculpt in equal parts. Use the epoxy around the top of the crystal to form the base of where you will place your mushrooms. Place the mushrooms in a little bunch.
At this time if you notice that the mushrooms are not set in the epoxy well enough, you can mix more and strengthen it.
TIP: Add a few drops of super glue at the base of the mushrooms and use quick the setting spray to instantly dry the glue. Give each mushroom stem a little push to make sure they don't wiggle and are firmly set in the epoxy.
Step 3: Sculpt Additional Details
Add your own artistic touches. I chose to add a small accent stone to the front by pushing it into the epoxy. I like to use left over epoxy to add a little fungus or creative lines. You can add small crystal points as I did or use glass beads to add texture.
Step 4: Add Jump Rings
For this pendant, I used two small jump rings to form the hooks for my chain. Place the rings in the epoxy and mush the epoxy around the ring to secure it. I like to add a few drops of super glue even before the epoxy has dried and then spray it with the accelerator spray. It will harden instantly, you want to make sure that they are very secure and do not shift or move at all.
Step 5: Add Texture
Add any additional details before painting the pendant with conductive paint. I used a needle tool to create small impressions to mimic moss or dirt. A toothbrush or toothpick would also do the trick.
Let the pendant dry for at least 24 hours and it will become rock solid.
Step 6: Conductive Paint + Seal Stone
You can purchase premade conductive paint, but it is very cost effective to create your own.
Mix as much graphite powder as you can with a black acrylic paint. If it is too clumpy add more paint. You want to get as much graphite powder as you can mixed into the paint without it becoming dry or clumpy.
Seal any soft stones (below a 7 on the Moh's Hardness Scale) with clear nail polish to protect them from the electroforming acid.
Quartz is a very strong stone and will not need to be protected. I am painting the labradorite cabochon for this tutorial.
Paint all of the areas you wish to be copper plated with the conductive paint.
Step 7: Copper Plate the Pendant
Refer to the video I've created above to see a step-by-step tutorial on how to set up your electroforming bath.
Wrap 12g around a cylindrical object about 4 times and then place that inside the beaker with about an inch hanging over the edge.
Fill the beaker with the electroforming solution.
Cut a piece of 12g wire that will lay on top of the beaker.
Cut a piece of 24g wire long enough so that it fits inside the solution but does not touch the bottom. Wrap it around the 12g wire that lays on top of the beaker and then fold a small hook at the bottom.
Attach the black negative cable from the rectifier to the 12g wire that lays on top and the red wire will attach to the end piece of 12g wire that is hanging over the beaker.
Place the pendant on the hook and submerge it into the solution.
Turn on the rectifier and leave the pendant in the solution for the time you've calculated based on the instructions in the video.
The rectifier will need .1 amp per sq. inch being plated and can take about 6 to 24 hrs to plate depending on the size of the item. This pendant took about 16 hours to plate.
Check on your pendant every hour or so to make it is plating correctly. If it is plating too slowly or the copper is salmon color, turn up the amps. If it is orange or looks burned, turn the amps down.
Once it is completely plated, take the pendant out of the solution and rinse it off.
Step 8: Finishing Touches
If the copper is not shiny out of the bath, use a dremel with a steel wire wheel or brass brush and it will shine right up!
Now, you can leave the natural color of the copper or you can paint the copper with liver of sulpher. This will oxidize the copper and change the color to a reddish tone or black depending on how long you leave it. Mix the l.o.s. with warm water in a small dish and paint the copper or dip it. It will turn colors immediately, you can neutralize this by dipping it quickly in baking soda mixed with water or wait for it to turn black. You can play around to find what you like the best. I didn't use much l.o.s. for this piece. I quickly dipped it and then rinsed it off with water.
Use nail polish remover to remove the protective nail polish coat from the small stone.
The last step is optional, you can coat the copper with a protective metal sealant called Protectaclear. It will coat the metal and it will help ward off oxidation. If you notice in the future that your copper is dull you can scrub it will a brash brush or use a jeweler's cloth to rub off the tarnish.
Have fun electroforming!
Grand Prize in the
Sticky Stuff Speed Challenge