Monday, February 7, 2011

Experimenting with Metal Etching

I'm always looking for new techniques to try out, stretching my imagination, and pushing the boundaries of what I think I'm capable.

This time I wanted to experiment with etching metal.

There are a few techniques that can be used to etch metals such as copper, brass, or bronze.
For this first try, I used an etching solution. (Next time I will try a less toxic form of etching)

I started with a small piece of scrap copper sheet and sanded it with 600 grit sand paper.
Then I cleaned the copper off using an acetone solution to make sure any film, grit, or coating was removed.

Next, I needed a "resist" with which to apply my design on the metal. There are other methods that will allow me to produce my own unique designs, but for this project I used an ink stamp pad to stamp a design onto my piece of copper and let it dry for about 5 to 10 minutes. I laid the copper down on a large piece of tape, covering the back side so the etchant would not effect it, and left a long piece of tape extending so that I could retrieve the piece from the solution more easily.

After submerging the copper into the etchant solution, I used a small air bubbler to agitate the liquid, constantly exposing new metal to the etchant. (Keep a cover over the container to prevent splashing!)

As the etchant wears away at the copper piece, the areas covered with the resist will remain untouched.

After about 20-30 minutes, the design was etched into the metal. I used acetone to remove the remaining resist.

After a bit of sanding, cleaning, and applying a heat patina, I think I ended up with a pretty cool test piece! I can't wait to get started on one of my original designs!