Okay, I promised an etching tutorial and so an etching tutorial you will get. I SO love using this technique in my jewelry as it adds so much interest and texture. Without further adieu....
Two posts ago I gave a ratio that was backwards. I'm so embarrased even though I've corrected it. The ratio is TWO parts hydrogen peroxide (the cheap drugstore variety) and ONE part muriatic acid (available in the masonry section of darn near any hardware store). If at all possible, execute this process out doors. The fumes are corrosive (if left in an open container) and nasty smelling. Wearing goggles and gloves is STRONGLY suggested even if outdoors.
Before I mix the acid solution, I prepare a baking soda water bath to have on hand. This will instantly neutralize any acid spill. Also keep the soda box on hand just in case. :) MAKE SURE the container is at least 4-5 times the total volume of the acid solution so that you can use it later to neutralize the acid solution which bubbles and expands like a crazy person when added to the soda water.
Prepare your metal. This process works for brass, nickel/silver and copper (not sterling. That's a whole other beast.) There are a few different ways to transfer images onto metal (refer to my book *wink* *wink* for more ideas). Shown here are two - using a rubber stamp and a black dye ink pad, making sure it is very dry before submersion. The other is using a craft store stencil and white, heavy bodied acrylic paint. All pieces are backed with masking tape burnished really well around the edges. A thick coat of acrylic paint would work as well but then it has to dry and I don't like waiting for paint to dry if I don't have to.
Place the metal pieces in the solution and plan to gently swirl the container often to keep the mixture agitated. The agitation helps carry the etched metal haze off the pieces allowing for fresh solution to touch the surface and continue etching. Die hard circuit board etchermakerpeople will put the hose end of an aquarium pump in it to cause continuous bubbles. If you happen to have an extra pump lying around the studio (c'mon..you have everything else under the sun in there!!), give it a try.
Now, back to work... Using tweezers that you'll promise NEVER to use to pluck your eyebrows with, grab the tape of one of the pieces, lift it out of the solution and drop immediately into the soda water. Watch it bubble as it neutralizes.
I pulled the three pieces out at varying intervals of time. The first piece with the beehive and the grass came out after only 5 minutes. The nest - after 10, and the nickel/silver piece, after 12-15 or so. The pictures don't show it but the depth of the etch is a bit deeper on the ones left in longer.
After I neutralized the pieces, removed the tape, washed with a soda paste under running water (just for extra measure) and dried it, I added blackening agent to patina the pieces. (It turns them black). I then sanded over everything with 400 grit wet/dry sand paper to highlight areas. Viola!
When you are done etching, make sure you are in a safe area and slowly pour the acid solution into the soda water. It will bubble pretty dramatically. Add a little at a time after each previous addition slows down the bubbling. When all the acid is poured and the bubbles have mellowed, gently swirl the container a few times to reactivate any more neutralizing that still needs to happen. When the mix stops bubbling, the solution is neutralized. It turns another lovely shade of opaque green.
Now, here's for the part where you get to execute your best judgment. I etched here and there and make such small batches of solution that I have no problem dumping the neutralized solution into the gravel of my driveway and hosing it for a while. If you live in an apartment, it might be a good idea to check into a hazardous waste disposal site. You be the judge. Supposedly neutral means neutral, but I'm finding a lot of different information on how to dispose of it. Whatever you feel the most comfortable with.
There, now that the tutorial is done, here are a few teaser pictures of a project I just passed onto a friend...this is just a small portion of the project I sent on. A year long exchange with 11 other incredible artists. All of whom I admire greatly as artists, mothers and friends. I'm so honored to be a part of the group (I think I'm supposed to keep the names secret for now, but in a year when it's all done, you'll not be disapointed, for sure!). :)
Okay, off to bed with my favorite new book.