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!


  1. it looks great! very interesting, thanks for sharing this-

  2. Mary - I love what you have done. Great job.!

  3. Very cool! Can't wait to see what you start making!!!!

  4. Mary, awesome and congrats for pushing the envelope and working on yet a new technique!! <>

  5. That looks fabulous Mary! Thanks for sharing - would love to have a go too!

  6. Great job- can't wait to see the finished jewelry!