Etched Copper and Brass Jewelry: Phototransfer Metal Etching
by Lexi Erickson
Etching brass and copper plates can result in interesting designs, and the metal may be used several ways. I plan on making this etched copper plate into a piece of jewelry. If I had etched the same design onto brass, it could be used as a texture plate: I could run it through the rolling mill several times and transfer the image onto a softer metal, such as copper or sterling. Copper, though, is too soft to transfer an etched design successfully onto one of the soft metals.
Etching metal using this phototransfer process is an easy way to incorporate designs from simple to complex. Anyone can etch with this simple process.
Press-n-Peel (PnP Paper) Image Transfer Film
15 micron 3M Finishing Film or green Scrubbie
blue painter's tape
shallow dish not to be used again for food
non-acetone nail polish remover
3M radial bristle disc (optional)
pH testing strips
metal to etch*
laser photocopy machine/printer**
hotplate or stove
*You can do this technique with sterling, copper, or brass. Clean the metal by lightly sanding it with a 15 micron sheet of 3M finishing film or use a green Scrubbie with a bit of force.
** You may photocopy an image, photograph, or line drawing onto the PnP paper. You may also draw your own design on paper and photocopy that image onto the PnP paper. I check the clarity of the image first by photocopying it onto white paper. You must use a laser printer to photocopy your work. Inkjet or bubblejet printers will not work. The image must be copied onto the dull side of the PnP paper, so first determine which side to insert face up into the paper feeder. Also remember that the image will be reversed, so if it includes any printing, such as initials or words, the printing must appear backward before you transfer it.
See, it's not rocket science! You can etch metal at home and achieve remarkable results.
For more unique and inspiring ways to use metal in your jewelry making, check out the hundreds of jewelry-making eProjects in the Jewelry Making Daily Shop, which are on sale now through Wednesday, Feb. 8! Here are two of my favorites that use etched metal to add interest and one-of-a-kind style to the jewelry designs.
|Southwest Spirit Etched Pendant
by Lexi Erickson
|One Truth Etched Cuff
by Kristen Robinson
P.S. You can read some of Lexi's jewelry etching tips from her DVD on our sister site, Beading Daily!
IMPORTANT SAFETY NOTES:
How to Dispose of Ferric Chloride
You may not put the solution down the drain! Because of residual copper ions left in the solution, it must be neutralized with sodium carbonate or sodium hydroxide until the pH value goes up to 7.0-8.0. (Check this with test strips sold at drug stores.) Allow any solids to settle and drain off any liquid. Add water to the poured off, neutralized liquid to dilute it, then pour that down the drain. The remaing solids or sludge should be poured into a plastic container, clearly labeled, and disposed of at your local hazardous waste disposal facility.
Safety Precautions: Wear proper protective clothing, latex gloves, and always have adequate ventilation.
Originally published in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist, June 2010.
Ferric chloride is available from scientific supply stores and some jewelry supply stores.
Press-n-Peel is available at some office supply stores or from Reactive Metals Studio, Inc., ReactiveMetals.com 800-876-3434