Etching Experiments

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etching copper

Etching Experiments

Etching copper

Etching pan and the etched copper piece with the electrical wire and foamies attached

There are so many techniques to try when it comes to making copper jewelry. I just had to try etching. It requires the use of some chemicals, although I am learning there might be ways to etch using some more natural ingredients. (Hopefully, more on that later.)

You can buy these etching kits which makes trying it very easy. You get a pan to put your etching liquid (ferric chloride is the chemical), foam thingies to float your copper and the required electrical current gadget. All you need is a piece of copper and rubber gloves. You are supposed to use distilled water, I used Brita water and was just fine (tap water that has been put through a filter that removes impurities).

There are many ways to produce the picture you want to etch on copper. I used an oil based marker and just drew the picture. Some other etching hobbyists use things like ink transfers (from laser printer), Staz-on ink, lettering systems, even UV film.

Copper etching kit

The etching kit – pan, ferric chloride, foamies, wire and the gadget you plug in.

So, I had my picture drawn on a very well cleaned piece of copper. I mixed my etching granules with the water and let it dissolve. You then have to cover the back side of your copper with tape so it doesn’t etch, attach the etching gadget wire on the back of your copper piece under the tape, and insert these foam pads on the sides so it can float and doesn’t fall on the bottom of your pan. Submerge the item in the etching liquid, turn the power on and wait.

I let mine etch for a couple of hours, I realize it was way too long! The time depends on the size of the piece, or the depth of etching you want. Many patterns you don’t need to etch very deep. A good thing also is that you can reuse the solution. Eventually it will lose its power, but it should last for many etchings. Just please remember to take your used etching liquid to a hazardous waste facility when you’re done, no hurting of fishes allowed! Now I just want to figure out a way to do this with some natural non-toxic materials!

Etching copper

My puffin happily etched. You can clean the marker lines with nail polish remover.

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