Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Metal Etching and Earring Exchange

Wow is it cold here.  I'm huddled up to my cup of joe trying not to look outside at the wind blowing the trees all around.  October is definitely here and a little early too.

I was busy yesterday trying out the metal etching technique Barbara Lewis at Jewelry of Distinction had mentioned in her blog last week.  This is a 2:1 of hydrogen peroxide to muriatic acid (HCl).  I mixed it up in a 16 cup plastic container with an airtight seal.

I'm familiar with HCl since I worked with it just about every day in the chemistry lab.  The laboratory grade is much stronger than what's sold at your local Home Depot but you should keep the same safety guidelines in mind when working with it.  This is serious stuff.  Here's a few things to keep in mind when you are doing the etching process.

  • Wear your goggles! Oh, and don't wear contacts when you are etching.  If you accidentally spill HCl in your eyes the acid can get in between your eye and your contacts.  Also, the vapors from working with HCl can creep in between your contact and your eye.
  • Accidents happen.  If you get the acid on your skin please wash immediately with soap and water.  I have a scar on my wrist from HCl so I know accidents can happen.
  • One of the biggest things to remember is to not breathe the vapors.  It's common sense, right?  I noticed in the tutorial I was following the guy said he etched in his kitchen.  What?  Go outside.
  • Don't pour any of your mixture down the drain.  It will definitely corrode your pipes.  It's for etching metal, right?  This was obvious when working in the lab.  Our facets had corrosion on them just from the fumes.  And we only worked with it in a hood with strong suction.  We had glass pipes so luckily we didn't have to worry about that.  So, it will do the same to your pipes as well.  When I worked with it yesterday I first wiped off my pieces with paper towels then I set them in a bath of soapy water.  I then scrubbed them and rinsed.  Then I left the water run for 15 minutes down the drain.  
  • Here's one more thing that doesn't have to do with safety but about the hydrogen peroxide in this mixture.  Have you noticed how hydrogen peroxide comes in dark brown bottles?  Well, the hydrogen peroxide solution sold in drug stores is really only 3% hydrogen peroxide and the rest is water.  It is a very strong oxidizing agent so it is diluted considerably.  And when it is exposed to sunlight the molecules decompose.  Don't keep your mixture out in sunlight or you'll end up having acid diluted in just water with no oxidizing agent.  Work outside in the shade if possible.
I was happy with the results of the etching process but not my stamping process.  I tried acrylic paint, a Sharpie paint pen, and a regular Sharpie.  I loved the freedom of using the Sharpie to draw my own designs but it didn't etch well.  The paint etched much better but I tried using stamps with the paint and the paint would either dry before I had a chance to stamp it or it would glob up in places.  You should have seen me yesterday.  My hands were covered in black paint and I had a huge frown on my face.  I'm guessing that I'm using the wrong technique for the stamping part and if anyone has any suggestions I would love to hear them.

I'm also finding out about the Angel policy.  I've never used stamps for anything I've planned to resell before and it can be a little tricky to know what you can and can't do.  I know several of you are into scrapbooking or mixed media so you are familiar with the policy but if you aren't here some info about the Angel policy

So, here's the results from my first etch.  These were etched then oxidized and polished.  First photo is with paint and the second is with Sharpie.

Earring Exchange
Ok, I have eight people including myself signed up for the earring exchange.  If anyone else is interested in joining the group please let me know ASAP.  Here's the Thanksgiving Treasures blog post of when I had originally talked about the idea.  For those of us doing the swap here is a list of questions I need you to answer.
  1. What is your favorite color or color combination?
  2. Do you prefer silver tone, copper tone, or gold tone metal?
  3. Do you like longer of shorter earrings?
  4. Do you have sensitive ears?  If so, what type of metal would work best for you?
  5. What is your favorite type of beads (gemstones, lampwork, porcelian, etc.)?
  6. What is your address along with your full name?
Now we haven't talked about price range for these.  I'm thinking $15-20 dollar price range.  And this is the range at which you would normally sell these not your cost in materials.  I will send out a name and info to everyone by Oct. 4th.  Everyone will have the month of October to create their earrings and they should go into the mail no later than Oct.31st.  Please feel free to send a business card along with your gift or a personal note.  And we'd all love to see pictures of the items once you receive them.  Any questions?  Is there anything I forgot to cover?  Please let me know.

Please email this info to leslie@beimondi.com as soon as you can so we can get started.

And here's Lizzy!  This cute little lizard is the highlight of the lampwork bracelet.  She likes hanging around to give a little giggle to your day.  What big beautiful eyes she has!  Lizzy will go into the Bei Mondi Etsy shop today so please say hello to her if you have the time.

Lizzy says have a great day!


  1. I think you got quite good results. I wonder on the paint and stamps if you added a medium that slows the drying a little. I can't remember what it's called but you can look in the art supply section of Michaels or Hobby Lobby or similar. It does mean you'd have to wait longer to etch. Patience is not my strong suit :-) Thanks for posting your results.

    I just emailed you re the earing swap. But it mysteriously went to you without me even getting to the pleasantry of sending my regards! But I think all of the pertinent info is there. This is a great idea!

  2. Have you tried StazOn Ink for stamping? I agree with LeAnn, your results don't look bad to me. The Sharpie ones might have had to stay in the etchant a little longer. I just sent you an email about the swap.

  3. beautiful and thanks for all these advices!! i use Statzon permanant ink, the result is wonderful..and i've foud an other better ink:Palette .. cause sometimes statzon use to drag on copper.. Palette not at all.. and an other thing.. before stamping i clean my copper sheet with acetone cause if you sand it .. you will see stripes after etching...

  4. Sounds like I need to make a run to the craft store tonight to get some StazOn or Palette Ink. Thanks for the advice gals!

  5. Leslie
    You did it! Your new pieces look really wonderful to me! And what a wealth of -first hand- knowledge you are. So helpful...not that I'm itching to etch yet. :-) It's been fun watching everyone.
    I'll be in touch about the earring exchange! :-)

  6. I really like them too, especially the patterns in the first photo. I think they turned out pretty good for your first attempt!

  7. Hi Leslie, yes, I agree with everyone you will be pleased with teh Statzon permanent ink. I have not tried Palette, as Esther recommended, something else for me to try. Also, I like the advice of using the acetone to avoid the stripes from sanding..Can't wait to see your results from the Statzon Ink Pad.
    PS. I want to participate in earring exchange, will follow up with email in a minute.

  8. Looks like the etching turned out very well for your first try. I don't have any experience with etching yet, but it seem like there are lots who are expanding their horizons in etching....I'd love to participate in the earring exchange. I'll send an email in just a minute.

    Love the bracelet...copper seems to be the new thing!