Free Electroforming Jewelry Tutorial: How to Electroform Jewelry Like a Pro
Have you wanted to explore the electrifying possibilities of electroforming jewelry to create metal jewelry elements out of natural objects or keepsakes?
Electroforming—aka electroplating—lets you take organic objects and coat them with a layer of real metal allowing you to use complex, natural shapes in your metal jewelry without difficult fabrication. Anything you can find in nature can be incorporated in your pieces: from delicate seed pods to acorns to sea shells. By using some of the techniques for jewelry electroplating, you can also integrate findings, like jump rings, right into your electroformed jewelry to create custom, ready-to-use elements.
Join Denise Peck, editor of Step by Step Wire Jewelry and senior editor of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist, in a free video tutorial on how to electroform jewelry and the equipment and supplies for copper plating. Whether you’re experienced at electroforming, or you have yet to electroform your first piece, this free video tutorial is a must-see.
Copper Electroplating Equipment
Learning About a Rectifier
A rectifier is an electrical device that converts alternating current from your house to a direct current which flows in only one direction. House current is way too strong and will burn the pieces that you’re electroforming. Low voltage output and low current output is needed for electroforming jewelry. Rectifiers are easy to find and even come with one setting for voltage and current where adjustment is not needed.
Copper Electroforming Jewelry Solution
A copper electroforming solution makes the electric current from a rectifier move in the beaker. Electroforming solution is necessary to electroform the metal particles to the organic object. If you’re electroforming jewelry from a metal other than copper: electroforming solutions are required for silver plating, gold plating and nickel plating. All solutions have particles of the metal suspended in the solution except for a copper plating solution. Copper plating is the only process in which metal particles from a piece of copper (anode) are being deposited to an organic object instead of from a liquid solution alone. The anode is suspended into the beaker and solution. In order to get a bright and shiny piece of copper jewelry, the anode you’re using for copper electroplating needs to be a clean, polished piece of copper. You’ll learn the benefits of using a spiraled piece of copper wire as your anode to ensure full coverage to the piece you’re electroforming.
Object to Electroform (Cathode)
Explore the possibilities and have fun collecting organic objects to transform into jewelry elements. A cathode doesn’t have to be an organic piece; it can be plastic or glass. You can even take a piece that is already metal and electroform to be a custom jewelry element. Metal will not attach to an organic piece unless it also conducts electricity. Specific steps must be followed to properly prepare an object for electroforming. Any organic material you wish to electroform must be covered in several coats of lacquer, because the electroforming solution can damage the cathode.
Electroforming jewelry techniques can be used for gold plating, nickel plating and silver plating as well as copper plating–which is covered more in detail in this free video tutorial. Denise explains each piece of electroforming equipment and what each is used for. She also covers the basic process of electroforming to get you started, because it’s important to know some of the electrical details whenever you’re working with electrical equipment.
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