Hello crafters, jewelers and itching to etch enthusiasts! I'll be showing you how I etched and "framed" this original artwork picture. I am however, focusing primarily on the etching part and not the silversmith part of this project. I wanted to show the etching process to give you an idea of the innumerable project possibilities using this medium! So, lets get started!!
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Step 1: Etching Tools and Products
For my etching project I chose to use Sherri Haab products. Her kit comes with everything you need to etch. Here is a link to Sherri Haab's kit on Rio Grande. The special paper is E3 Etch paper also found on Rio Grande. I have her permission to share her products for this project. This was my first time etching and using these products and I found it easy to use and easy to follow the instructions. In addition to these products and the following tools, you should be in a well ventilated area.
-sink and water
-packing tape and scissors
-bowl of water, large enough to fit your copper piece
-iron, flat hard surface, thin cotton towel, metal block optional for fast cooling of copper after ironing
-Any jewelry making tools to complete your project
-Lastly, if you are printing your image at home, you MUST USE A LASER PRINTER! Otherwise, go to an office supply store to get your images printed.
Step 2: Pick Your Artwork!
I picked this lovely original artwork painted by Leslie Olpin Peterson. If you plan on selling your finished project, you MUST GET PERMISSION BY THE ARTIST! If you don't, you are stealing and that's not OK. This project I made is actually a gift I made for my friend Leslie and I have permission to share this with all of you. Here is a link to Leslie's blog about her amazing artwork. Leslie Olpin Peterson . She was actually featured in the New York Times about her "The Forgotten Wives" project. I picked this particular painting because of its striking features-it will translate well when etched. Copy and paste the artwork you choose into an editing program on your computer. I used Word on my PC.
Step 3: Prepping to Print
Ok lets prep to print! Copy your artwork into a program to edit it. Make your image a black and white image. Do whatever you need to do to make it a 100% saturated DPI black and white image. NO GREY SCALE! You want sharp, crisp images. If your image has words, you MUST MIRROR image your artwork! I would mirror image it no matter what it is but that's just me. Also, make your image the exact size you want it for your project. What you print is what you get! Print on Sherri Haab E3 Etch paper using a laser printer. Use your best quality printer settings. Before placing image on copper, your copper should be clean and free of any oils. Put on your gloves and lightly sand your copper with the water sand paper that's included in the kit. Once cleaned, cut out your images to fit and place, image side down on your clean copper. Leave a nice sized edge around your image so you can cut around the copper after its etched. You can put several images on your copper piece but your copper piece can't be bigger than the stainless steel tub included in kit.
Step 4: Iron Maiden
-Set your iron to the highest setting and TURN OFF STEAM
-use thin cotton towel between your iron and your copper piece
-remember to put your images print side down on your clean copper
-iron with pressure for about 30 seconds on hard surface-PIECE WILL BE HOT HOT HOT!
-check Etch3 paper for bubbles (can set on metal block to cool) SUPER HOT so don't touch
-there will be bubbles where there is no ink-that's OK. You just don't want bubbles where there is black
-keep ironing until you feel your image has completely transferred.
-Place copper piece into water bath for a couple of minutes. Paper should float up or you can gently rub it off
-If your image does not transfer, you can scrub it off and start again
Step 5: Tape and Level
OK. This next step is probably the most tedious but crucial part of the etching process. Take your time and do it right-its worth it!
-Flip over your copper piece, images face down
-take your conducting wire and on one end make a lightening bolt shape, the other end flared up at a soft angle
-cut a piece of packing tape large enough to cover the lightening bolt end of the wire. Make sure the piece of tape is completely sealed around the edges. Now cover the rest of the back of the copper with tape-sealing the edges so no water can seep through. Cut off excess tape hanging over edges.
-slide your foam feet onto each corner making sure they don't cover any part of your image on the other side. This is why its good to have extra room around the edges.
Step 6: Bath Time!
-If they aren't already, tape your chop sticks together at one end (the fat end)
-Gently submerge your copper piece into the bath.
-Make sure it is level and slide the wire into the chopsticks to keep your piece level and from floating up
-set your E3 Duo controller to ETCHING NOT ELECTROFORMING
-Depending on the size of your copper piece, you can etch at level 1, 2 or 3
-For this particular piece, I chose a level 3
Step 7: It's Electric!!
-Clip the black wire to the side of the metal pan
-Clip the red wire to the end of the exposed conducting wire
-IT WILL NOT ELECTROCUTE YOU! Believe me, I was totally freaking out thinking I would feel a zap but I didn't so you'll be OK-I promise!
-Check the controller. If its conducting properly, both the green AND the red light will be lit
-Now set your timer for 10 min.
Step 8: Set It But Don't Forget It!
-Check your piece after ten minutes
-Its not done, but you'll just want to pull up your piece and check that its etching
-If it is, you'll feel it, if its not, you probably have a water leak or missed a step. Go back and figure it out...loser.
-set your piece back in the bath and let it etch for another 10 min
-At this point you could start prepping another piece or take a cat nap
-check your piece again. Its totally up to you now-take it out if you want a light etch or put it back in if you want a deeper etch. This just takes practice.
-Don't over etch your piece though-eventually it could eat through your copper-Always set your timer!
-You can also change the levels of your power during this process-try different levels for different times-you'll figure out what works for you!
Step 9: Etch Sweet Etch
-YES! Your piece is etched and AWESOME!!
-Un-clip the wires and remove your piece from the bath
-Go over to your sink and remove and throw away the tape but KEEP YOUR WIRE!
-Bristle brush the black transfer off the copper and rinse
-Think of all the creative possibilities for your etched pieces
Step 10: Cut and Create!
-If you have more than one image on your copper, cut your copper with shears
-I decided to make a mini frame for my portrait out of silver
-I separated the words to make it look like an actual framed picture (yeah, I'm smaht!)
-I soldered the pieces together and added a bale on the back
-filed and polished and voila!!
Step 11: Gone But Not Forgotten Wife
-I decided my piece looked too new and shiny so...
-I oxidized it to make it look antique and old
-I love how it turned out!
-Added a black cotton twist cord
-Can't wait to give this framed pendant to my friend Leslie-I think she's going to love it!
Here are some other pieces I made too...
Lastly, to ME, Sterling Perch for making this cool piece! You can totally do this too!
Participated in the
Jewelry Contest 2017