Etching is a versatile method of adding pattern and texture to your jewelry designs. Etching your personal designs into metal is effortless and easier. It is always fun to make your personal jewelry.
Almost every jeweler has knowledge about chemical etching which uses an etching caustic consisting of various acids. There is another method used by jewelers called electro etching.
Electro-etching allows you to etch fine with detailed patterns or drawings into a wide variety of metals without any risks related to the chemical usage, storage or cleanup of the same. Electro-etching may require some equipment but does not need acid eating mordants.
Here are a few things you need to know about electro or chemical etching when you go to etch your creations.
Using chemicals for jewelry etching:
While performing chemical etching you will not need an abundance of equipment but you will need a safe and nice place for etching free from any clutter, or children, or even pets because of the exposure of corrosive chemicals.
To begin with, you will need a chemical mordant plastic tray or a glass tray may be handy. An etching mordant will be required that will have to match with your base metal that would be etched. Ferric chloride works best with copper whereas nitric acid is commonly used with silver.
There are other mordants available in the market that you can consider because they may give you a good etch, may work better with the masked material or they are easier to hold on. You will need some kind of masking material.
Masking your design in the article can be tricky. Depending on which acid you will be using, your designs may need a stronger mask. You can find masks that can be printed on press sheets or other transfer papers that use heat to shift toner onto metal. Other popular mask materials used commonly are paint pens, asphaltum, lacquers or generic permanent markers.
Materials such as duct tape, a plating tape or electrical tape will be required for covering the backside of the metal plate so that the plate does not touch the chemical mordant. The tapes can be used in suspending the plates on top of the chemical solution throughout the etching process.
Electro-etching requires electricity to etch metals. You will need a power source with negative, positive leads, stainless steel pan, few consumables, and an electrolyte. This type of etching will require mild chemical solutions such as silver nitrate, copper sulfate or dry chemicals found in fertilizers.
These chemicals are mixed with water to create a harmless solution. Masking the whole workpiece is challenging although a mild solution cannot hamper the masks. The power source will deliver electricity to the workpiece.
Transfer papers can last longer in an electrolytic solution through the entire process in place of paint pens or lacquers. For a very crisp image transfer, you can use UV paper along with other equipment.
Whether you choose electro-etching or chemical etching, both these methods will produce excellent results by getting a detailed etch on your own jewelry or any other metal.