Monday, December 13, 2010

New technique for me: Electro etching on copper

Trying out new techniques is always very exciting for me. I just love
that, gives me butterflies in my stomach.

I always wanted to try out etching. The only thing that really stopped
me was the acid, one had to use and its disposal.

One sunny afternoon *g I heard of a salt water technique and a nice
friend of a good friend was so sweet to email me some information
about it, thanks Harry.

Last week not being to able find any salt without additives I also
found out that one could use copper electrolyte solution which
funnily enough I still owned 3 bottles of.

I had ordered transfer paper (PnP) from my good friend Amazon.
Ok, let's get ready to rumble.

Somewhere I read that it doesn't matter if you use an ink jet
printer or a laser printer. I just had installed win 7 64bit on my
computer and had only found the ink jet printer driver so far.
So the ink jet printer was my obvious choice.
Ok, I had an image:

I frantically searched in my manual how to print on transfer
paper (I wanted to be extra cautious because I already killed
a printer last year when trying to print on a foil without consulting
the manual beforehand), everything set and off I went: beautiful
printout, printer still alive, yeehah.

Ok, next step. I cut out a small square of copper sheeting with my
shears, dashed upstairs to my ironing board, printout facedown on
the copper, tea towel on top, iron on top of that and ironing happily
and carefully away for 4 minutes.

I was supposed to let it cool down and then put the copper piece
with the paper stuck to it for 10 minutes into a small bowl of

Yep, I did all of that. While it soaked I checked the clip on about this procedure. So far so good.

Peeled off the paper, but....there was another layer, a see through
foil. I could see the image of the celtic knot under it, it looked
perfect, but that stupid foil simply resisted all my attemps to rip,
tear or rub it off. I slowly reached my boiling point.

Not wanted to be stopped in my exciting new adventure by a
stupid foil, I dashed back down to my printer, did another printout,
up again (out of breath, one is not getting any younger), ironing,
water bowl, 10 min..............
my dear Lord, the same problem....stupid foil again.

I needed a break and a think, made a nice sweet Latte Macchiato,
calmed down and then went for plan B.

Browsing the internet I luckily found a driver for my old laser
printer. New printout, another ironing session, water bowl,
et voilà.
The sweet foil peeled off including the paper layer in one go..........
I was doing a happy dance and rushed downstairs where my
electro forming equipment is stationed. I read that electro etching
is the opposite from electro forming which I had done before, so
that shouldn't be a problem, I thought.

Electrolyte solution into the little plastic tub, some cello tape on
the back of the little copper square, a little hole in the square, some
copper wire thru the hole , the positive clamp onto the wire, the
negative one attached to the steel plate which was already put
into the plastic tub, and ...switch on the power.

This is the result of the first attempt, it was in the solution for
about 70 minutes, brass brushed, put thru a disc cutter and domed
(I wanted to check whether the pattern contorts when I dome it,
because I intended to do some earrings).

The etching did work, the surface wasn't as smooth as I expected,
the symbol wasn't as dominating as I intended and the etching not as
deep as I wanted ... but it worked.

Ok, to get the symbol more dominating, I filled it with help of photoshop.

Another printing and ironing session.
To make the etching deeper I increased the ampère and the time of
etching up to 3 hours.

Looking back, I think, I overdone it. What do you think?*gggg

The only thing that holds this poor abused disc together, is the cello
tape on its back.

What have I learned from the disc is, the ampere might have been
too high which consequently makes the etching way too aggressive
and the etching time was too long.

In the youtube clip the lady said something about etching between
2 and 4 hours. I presume she either worked with a thicker sheeting
or a lower ampère setting. Sadly she did not mention either, but that
would take the fun out of it anyway, wouldn't it *g.

Ok, next try. Less etching time to gain more insights, only 1 hour.

To be honest, I am still not pleased *g
Now the symbol is much too dominating, looks more like an angry
panda bear than a celtic knot. The etching is still way too aggressive.

So next time I will try the same span of time but a lower ampère setting.

I am anxious to see the result. Are you ?

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