Monday, September 2, 2013

Etching, salt, citric acid and batteries

I have been remiss... well that isn't the right word.... downright horrible about blogging.  I don't promise to do much better, but I do promise to try.

Thanks to Ann Sanicola,  I have been learning to etch with salt water and batteries.  I have done a lot of experiments, and thought others might like to see this


  • copper
  • resists (PNP, sharpie, stazon, oil paint, fingernail polish) anything to block the design from the etchant
  • brine water (distilled water boiled with kosher salt until it will not absorb more salt)
  • citric acid (find in the canning department of the grocery store)
  • 2 9volt batteries
  • alligator clips (2)
  • plastic container
  • copper wire
  • tape, I have used painters tape here, packing tape is good.
My experiment started with 2 containers, one with citric acid, one with just salt water.  I wanted to know if the citric acid made the etch go faster, like in Edinburgh Etch.

I started today with a batch of salt water and saltwater with citric acid (1/2 teaspoon) that had been used once.
notice that the right has copper sediment and the right is just light blue with a few small pieces of copper sediment

Clean metal. Apply your resist (pnp etc)
 Attach a copper wire to the back of the piece with your tape. Cover the entire back and sides with the tape so that your metal doesn't etch away

Use a bare copper sheet (called a sink) and attach to the side of the container.  I just taped it, but a clamp would be great.  Part of the copper (at least  half) should be in the salt water solution.

Hang from a large gauge  (I used 10g) copper wire so that the hanger is in contact with the large wire and the piece to be etched is hanging in the salt solution.

Clip the positive wire to the large wire and the positive side of the battery.

The negative wire to the copper sink and the negative side of the battery. 

The sink will start to bubble.  If it doesn't, check all clips.  If it doesn't bubble it doesn't work!!!

 At 20 minutes I had to clean the sink in the citric acid and I changed both batteries (which were not new, I had etched 1 hr with them the day before) because they weren't bubbling.

I checked the depth of both.  Needed more time.  I shook the plain salt water one to make sure all the copper was not clinging to the piece I wanted to etch.

at 50 minutes I took both out of the water bath, used baking soda to clean and then scrubbed off the resist.

pnp with salt water and citric acid, very clean etch!  depth good

pnp with salt water, look at the etching around the edge, not smooth.  I know its hard to see!

these are the etched pieces. The one on the left is salt water and oil paint. The right side is sharpie with saltwater and citric acid.  Hard to see but the citric side is slightly better etch, smoother and cleaner, not any deeper
Here is a side view of the saltwater bath. Left side has a lot of copper sediment, the right one with citric acid is cleaner...... much cleaner!

For my purposes I will use citric acid, but will use a different power source, one that can plugged in.  For teaching purposes I think 9volt battery will work.



Friday, February 11, 2011

Hop a long...

This week has been a long boring week, my knee up on a pillow encased with ice... can't reach my wire or my tools. Thankfully, I have my computer and my phone and my family has been great. 

I finished my applications for Wire Masters, Baltimore (so excited that they asked me to teach) and also for for Bead Fest Texas.

I am working on applications to teach at William Holland and have two new classes for Sawtooth.  My teaching career is well on its way, and I am so excited to share what I know with others!  It is a humbling experience to have others entrust you with their time, money and their dreams of learning.  I am always thinking about how to make my classes better, more fun, more information all crammed into a small amount of time.

Learning is a continuation throughout life.  I take as many classes as I can, as often as I can.  I read, I experiment, I fail and then finally I succeed. So my advice, is to hop, crawl, run into the experience of learning.  I hope to meet you along the path~

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Snow Day....again

Well the kids have been out of school for 4!!!!  We didn't get alot of snow, but those of you from the south know about black ice and boy have we had that!  Patches melt and then come back, its very dangerous!

Good news is that Darling Son and I have gotten along great and I have stuck close to home and finished some pieces.

Here are my skeleton keys.

And my friend Bob Mattingly made some scrumptous enameled components for me.  Here is the partially finished pieces. Still need to work on the bail, but hammering is out since Darling Son is still asleep!  Don't you love the yummy soft colors! Pink Topaz, yellow topaz drops and yellow adventure small beads. Exciting news is that I am going to visit Bob and his wife Judy for a weekend of enameling, late February.  I will take loads of pictures and let you know how that goes.

Stay safe everyone!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

New Thoughts..New Year

I've been thinking alot about resolutions.... should I?  I have never been one to really make alot of them and in the years past those that I make with a set date are doomed to fail.


New thoughts....

Instead of making resolutions of things to 'do'... like I will lose weight... or I will stop drinking (full strength Pepsi's that is)... never make it, and I mean never!!

I digress, new thoughts... I decided to make my resolutions around 'being'

I will BE!

More patient.... with my family, my friends and those stupid, rude, untrained salespeople that you meet everytime you go out.  I will smile, be kind, remember that their day must be worse than mine... I will be more PATIENT

I will BE!

More active.... I will strive to go to the gym more than 2 times a week, I will move around a little more, park the car a few spaces further from the door.. I will just try to not be such a couch potato... .I will be more ACTIVE

I will BE!

More focused ... on the craft that I love; jewelry making and all that goes with it (that is really the key, the paperwork, the inventory, the picture taking, the selling, the marketing).  I will carve out time to look at my work with a critical eye and just try and stay true to my journey..... I will be more FOCUSED

I will BE!

What will you BE!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Ready, Set, Go!

I've been working like crazy to get ready for my open house this Friday and Saturday.  It really gets my going!!  I made a ton of beaded earrings, shaped some cool sterling wire earrings and then made a few silversmithed earrings!  Finished some beaded necklaces that match some bezel set stone pendants and polished alot of chains!

Hoping for a good crowd, but will be glad to see those that come not matter how few or how many! House is clean (well..... as clean as it gets!!), snacks made, house decorated for the holidays.

Now to sit, relax and chill!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Cold Connections

Just a couple of weeks ago I had the greatest class on cold connections at Sawtooth in Winston Salem.  I had worked for a couple of weeks getting several samples ready and figuring out how to best get the class started.  I ordered some great textured copper and brass from Metalliferous in NY, put in a lot of mini screws, nuts, beads, stones, tubing... you know, all the things you need to make some cool jewelry.

We started with basic screws and then did rivets, sewing, tube rivets and tabs... so much fun!  It was a very technique oriented class with each lady doing her own thing!


Two days of working with 10 of the most creative women really boosted my morale and my creativity.  Just take a look at what these women made!