I was just going through some of the statistics on my blog. This is my 200th post. WOW! I guess I can be downright chatty sometimes.
Today’s Tool Time Tuesday features a product developed by Sherri Haab. This is a great alternative to etching without Ferric Chloride. It is almost as easy to use and better for the environment as well.
When you order the kit, it comes complete with: E3 Etch Controller unit, Stainless steel pan,
Electrolyte compound, Copper sheet, Copper jewelry blank, Aluminum
Electrodes, Spacers and 12 ready to use images, Plus full instructions.
Full instructions on how to set everything up and use it all are included in the kit. Most of the items can also be purchased separately for when you need to replenish various items. You should also know that the kit above will etch brass and copper, but not silver. To etch silver you will need to buy an separate stainless steel pan and silver nitrate solution. Other than that, everything is done the same way for all three metals.
Here I have chosen two pieces of copper. Both are 18 gauge copper. Both are in need of a good cleaning.
I have used a good friend of mine, Bar Keepers Friend, to clean the metal. I LOVE that stuff. Just a little bit of water and a dusting of the powder and the tarnish disappears without scrubbing right before your eyes. If you haven’t already added it to your studio, go get some. It is only about $2.50 at my grocery store and is next to the Comet or AJAX cleaners.
I have also lightly sanded the pieces to give them a bit of tooth for the resist to adhere to. In this picture only 1/2 of the oval piece has been sanded.
When I am working on these projects I like to work on this non-stick craft sheet. It protects my surface from the resist, water, chemicals, heat, etc. It was about $12 – $18 at my local craft store and worth every penny.
This is a new resist that Sherri suggested I try. It is a thick water based paint. She said it holds up great as a resist and rubs right off once you are done. The only problem with it is, I am not very handy when it comes to free-handing my designs, particularly with thick paint.
There are other things you can also use as a resist and I will be doing a couple of future Tool Time Tuesday posts on some of them including a UV Film, PNP Blue, and a couple of others, so be watching for that.
Okay, don’t say anything about my lack of free-handing abilities. It is what it is and at least it is done. HAHAHA
Here I have just painted on the resist with a tiny paint brush. I have also painted the outside edges and the connector holes to protect them from the etching process.
Next, we need to attach the aluminum electrode. This electrode must be touching the metal, but we don’t want it to touch the etching solution. So I have taped it onto the piece up to the point where the protective sleeve is. The kit includes two coated electrodes.
Next, I use the little foam spaces to keep my piece up from the bottom of the pan. You don’t want your piece to touch the sides or bottom of the pan as it will interrupt the electrical current and won’t etch. My solution here is a bit “used” and it will still work just fine. I will pour it through a coffee filter into a glass jar when I am done. This cleans out any of the debris and allows me to store the solution until I am ready to use it again for the next round of etching.
The solution is made with Copper Sulfate and distilled water. The solution lasts a long time and there is enough in the kit to make several batches.
This is the little controller that Sherri and her husband came up with. The red end attaches to the electrode connected to the metal. The black end clips onto the stainless steel pan. When you plug it in, a green light appears to show that you have power. Once you hook everything up, the little red light will also light up indicating that you have a current going through your electrode and pan.
I didn’t like how close my piece was sitting to the bottom of the pan. I am using a piece what was domed and it was just a little too close. So I used a pair of chopsticks that haven’t been separated yet to hold things up a little bit more. You need to ensure that the entire face of the piece is submerged. If it isn’t, it won’t etch. Notice that the red electrode is attached to the aluminum wire and the black to the pan.
Depending on how deeply you want your piece etched, you can leave your piece in for longer or shorter durations. I have left this piece in for 30 minutes.
When I pulled the piece out to check after 30 minutes, this is what I had. Notice that part of the resist has moved. It held well enough while I wasn’t disturbing it, but once I pulled it out, part of it moved away. This is both good and bad. It would be bad if I wanted to place it back in to continue etching. But it is also good, because it is easier to remove when I am done.
Here is a bracelet that I did a couple of weeks ago. It was my first experience in using the etching system. It took a while to do as I could only do one piece at a time. But I did experiment a little and attached the red end of the controller to two electrodes at once and it seemed to work really well. Sherri and her husband are currently working on a system where you can etch larger or multiple pieces at once.
The bracelet is also currently for sale in my Etsy shop. The resist for the bracelet was a paint pen by Sharpie. Regular sharpie markers and solvent ink don’t work as well with this method of etching. They don’t seem to hold up quite as well. But the paint pens were kind of fun, plus they come in various widths.
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