This lovely bracelet was etched by Kate Mulligan of Mulligan Stew. She had attended a class on etching and this piece was the end product of the class.
When Kate recently visited me, we decided to spend our time together working out the bumps in the etching process---for me. She'd actually worked them out for herself, for the most part....so going over them took the fear out of working with Ferric Chloride Solution. I sallied forth!
Here are some of the pieces we inked....
I have only to decide what to do with them....color, type of media for the color, what sort of jewelry I want them to become. Since I like how they came out, and they are my first efforts, they're sort of special to me. I'm being a little fussy about the next step, the color.
It's a simple thing to apply color with a torch (I did torch the Bella Vita piece on the Victorian luggage tag stamping from B'sue Boutiques ) but then so many options! I like the idea of applying layers of Gilder's Paste, thinned out just a tad bit with mineral spirits or paint thinner. OR, some of the vintage inks enhanced with some dark alcohol inks. Even acrylics, applied, distressed, and then a light coat of resin over.....that would be SO deep and luminous.
What do you need to get started etching?
There are a number of ways to do it, and different acids you can use, but we liked the FERRIC CHLORIDE method. A quick Google search will get you a merchant; I'm told that Radio Shack carries it, too.
Blue Painter's Tape....hardware store.
apply the ink with rubber stamps or from the markers, free hand (I did both on my pieces)
neutralizer: baking soda and water
containers: PLASTIC ONLY....one for the etchant solution and one for the neutralizer solution.....at least TWO INCHES deep
nail polish remover
extra fine steel wool
rubber gloves! You'd better glove up!
old cotton rags
soap and water
There is nothing really hard about the process, but it can be messy once you get to the end of the process, which is neutralizing the neutralizing solution (say THAT three times, fast) or any neutralizing solution you have decided to dispose of. Whoops! she forgot her gloves, that's a rare thing, she never forgets them! Just don't forget yours! It's probably okay at this stage in the game but just go ahead and get the gloves on, it's better that way:
We neutralized some solution outside on the rocks behind the shop and it flowed over onto the ground. It's pretty safe as we used a ton of baking soda in it....but what an unholy mess.
Maybe do this next time in a larger container with plastic under it to catch any possible overflow. Then, once neutral, dispose of it a disposable bottle. Once neutralized to this extent...it should be okay to put in the trash. NEVER put it down your drain.
There are several opinions on disposing of the neutralized solution. Some say it's okay to throw out so long as it's super neutralized and totally contained, others say must be thrown out as hazardous waste. Some say the liquid can be thrown out and the sludge as hazardous waste.
The solution used to etch the brass can be re-used many times, too. You can get a funnel and put it back into the original container, so long as you didn't get any baking soda in it!
There's some great info on it in Thomas Mann's new book, DEMYSTIFYING THE JEWELERS SAW. Honestly, I just got this book and I love it, you should get one:
Also, there is more to the process than a supplies list.....here is Harry Wood's excellent tutorial on how to etch metal, from our website:
Many metals are safe for etching, but one you NEVER want to try is aluminum, it will make a toxic gas. Brass and copper are excellent and low-cost.
Kate will be writing out a whole 'thesis' LOL on the subject of etching and it will be housed at B'sue Boutiques website in the next month----meantime Kimberlee Turner, aka Dr. Brassy Steamington has this humorous and detailed! post to offer:
At B'sue Boutiques we have a WHOLE BUNCH of amazing blanks that work great for etching. You will want heavier ones, 24 gauge and up. Let me suggest these:
this is raw brass....we found that raw, unplated blanks work BEST.
This dog tag would be so cool with text etched into it!
Many more tags and blanks here!
Have fun etching! If you like to make jewelry---even if you are just getting started!-- come and join us at The B'sue Boutiques Creative Group at Facebook