Unique Geode Pendant Using Electroforming

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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!

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    93 Discussions

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    kyliey

    3 years ago on Introduction

    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 & 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.

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    AmberWoykyliey

    Reply 1 day ago

    I'm curious about this as well...

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    LucieS7

    1 year ago

    Brilliant step by step tutorial, making something i thought would be super complex doable at home! Looking forward to trying this.

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    josephiam

    1 year ago

    Hi there,

    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 "30V/5A Single-Output DC Power Supply" 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!

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    ValerieR30

    2 years ago

    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?

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    forthegoodknightValerieR30

    Reply 2 years ago

    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.

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    RachelK61

    2 years ago

    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 ?

    Thanks so much,

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    lytiano.

    2 years ago

    What causes the round deposits of copper around edges when electroforming? I've attached an example I found on the web.

    Screen Shot 2016-03-08 at 7.11.09 PM.png
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    unknowns1

    3 years ago

    I had a question regarding the plating process ..

    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 ?

    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.

    Wonderful instructables btw.

    3 replies
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    forthegoodknightunknowns1

    Reply 3 years ago

    Glad you like the instructable! Ok, let me see...

    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.

    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.

    Hopefully that helps a bit!

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    CeCeP1forthegoodknight

    Reply 2 years ago

    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!

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    unknowns1forthegoodknight

    Reply 3 years ago

    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! :)

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    toykelly

    2 years ago

    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?

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    Ebabb77

    3 years ago

    Could you do something similar with a gold plating pen?

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    Kristan2011

    3 years ago

    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

    image.jpg

    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 :)

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    kylieychristina.m.schmidt.5

    Reply 3 years ago

    Are you heating the solution stall? I used to & 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.

    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 & give it a nice scrub & it will shine it up nicely. Check out my blog where I'm talking all about my learnings from electroforming: pinealvisionjewelry.com/electroforming

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    CosmicCandace

    3 years ago

    Also...does your wire scratch the paint off at all? Mine does a bit

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    CosmicCandace

    3 years ago

    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?
    Thanks!