Have you ever found yourself admiring a gorgeous piece of etched copper jewelry? I know I have. A few months back I decided I wanted to learn how to create my own custom copper gifts. As a maker, I crave opportunities to pursue new avenues of artistic expression.
After exploring various techniques for etching copper, I chose to try a method that appeared to be one of the very best for beginners. Having just experienced a successful first experiment, I wanted to share the process for the benefit of other aspiring copper artisans. Here's a list of the supplies you will need:
- Small sheet of copper (or copper blank).
- Ferric chloride (I used Radio Shack PCB Etchant Solution).
- Rubber stamp (a link to the bee stamp featured here).
- Ink pad (I prefer the StazOn Solvent Ink Pad).
- Black permanent marker.
- Clear shipping tape.
- Two small plastic containers.
- Baking soda.
- Chemical-resistant gloves.
- Eye protection.
- Brillo pad.
- Fine steel wool.
Step Two: Select your design and transfer it to the copper (either freehand using a fine permanent marker, or with the use of a rubber stamp). Allow adequate time for the ink to fully dry.
Step Four: In a well ventilated area (outdoors is best), pour an inch or so of the ferric chloride solution into a shallow plastic container (wearing chemical protective gloves and eye protection). Carefully set your copper (design side down) on the surface of the etching solution. You want it to float on the surface.
Step Six: In a clean plastic container, mix warm water with two tablespoons of baking soda (I used about a cup and a half of water). Wearing protective gear, carefully remove the copper from the acid solution and gently set it into the water bath. It will start bubbling as the acid is neutralized by the baking soda. This step takes less than five minutes.
Step Seven: Remove the copper from the soda bath and rinse with clean water. When dry remove the packing tape from the back side.
As you can see, with the right supplies and just a few hours of effort, it is fairly easy to produce a very satisfying result. I am pleased with this copper etching method and will most definitely take it to the next level with a more advanced project.
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