Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Etching metals part I

I've wanted to try etching for a long while now, and I finally had my materials gathered 2 weekend's ago. The week before I started to prep copper and brass pieces for my first test.

Etching is both easier and harder than you think it will be. You are dealing with acid, so you should take appropriate precautions. Wear protective hand gear, work in a well ventilated place, and you should probably designate the containers you use for future acid use only. Also you need to be prepared to neutralize the acid you don't reuse. The idea of using acid is scary but it's really not bad, and the acid I'm using is pretty mild as acids go. It only works on copper/bronze/brass.

The first circle shaped container (all of these are plastic- recycled from frozen food products) has the acid in it. The oblong next to it is a neutralizing bath made from 1 part salt, 1 part white vinegar and 6 parts water. The 2ND oblong is baking soda. after I rinse the pieces off in the vinegar solution, I cover them with baking soda. Then I rinse them off in the sink.

So really if you are careful, the acid part is the cake walk. The resists are where things really get interesting.

Resists are what you put on the metal to keep the acid from working. The areas that are left exposed are eaten away by the acid, the areas "covered" remain, or "resist" the wearing away.

The acid only works certain types of materials, so in theory anything that the acid doesn't "eat" should work as a resist. In practice, not so much. I really want to get a good idea of what works and what doesn't, so I am trying a variety of resists.

For my first time out, I tried 3 different colored sharpie markers. I used pink, blue, and black. When I researched this , several places recommended a fancy, expensive permanent marker in red. I might break down and get that eventually, but for this I used what I've got around the house.

I also did 3 with ink and scrapbook stamps.

And finally I used label paper that stuck on the metal like a sticker. The heart design in the 3rd picture shows the label paper.

Part II coming soon......

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