Sunday, October 14

Metal Etching

In an attempt to find methods to emboss, engrave, etch or some how put foot prints, handwriting and silhouettes directly into metal, I have been playing around with many new techniques over the past few months.  My first shot at it, proved very successful pressing images into metal clay.  Although this method works there are many factors that caused me to continue to dig for something better:

1. Time consuming
2. Costly materials = high retail pricing
3. Portions of the process need to be sent out to other companies to complete
4. Costly start up fees - (aka I  need a kiln!)
5. Look of metal clay

So after searching around, I came across metal etching.  Metal etching is a process by which you transfer an image using toner to metal and then submerge the  metal into an etchant bath.  The bath eats away at the metal that has been left exposed and leaves what has been covered by toner. 

Once I saw the technique I knew I had to order some supplies. The wait for them was the  most challenging part for me! I'm so impatient when I get a new idea! 

Here's a picture of attempt number 1.
as  you can see in the picture above, there's only copper pieces.  That's because I left the silver in the etchant too long and it completely ate away all the silver!  OMG!

Attempt number 2 has proven much better in silver arena (see picture below)

I'm really loving how the botanical images are turning out as they don't require (and actually look better) as high accuracy with the toner transfer.  This is where the edges of the toner aren't quite set to the metal causing it to peel off and the etchant to eat away at the edges.  However as good as this looks for the botanical images, it's not what I'm going for with the children's custom charms. So I have a little more testing to do with a few new products to help the transfer process.

However as you can tell in the picture below the copper toner transfer especially around the edges went quite well and are definitely ready to be listed!

On a side note, there is lots that I'm learning about etchants and the processes. See picture below:

This is where I accidentally touched the back of a copper disc prior to the etchant bath.  The oils from my skin act just like toner and made a thumb print!

I'm super excited with where this is going! Just need to practice a few more times and test a few more products before I think I'll be ready to offer these babies!

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