Learning a new jewelry-making skill expands your creative options! Metal etching is a fairly simple technique that offers endless possibilities! With just a little experimenting, you’ll be creating unique and personalized components you can add to all sorts of DIY jewelry! Read on to find out more.
Rings & Things’ Metal Etching Kit is a perfect way to get started!
The above Metal Etching Kit includes the following supplies:
- 1 liter Ferric Chloride
- 8oz Novacan Black Patina (alternately, you can use Liver of Sulphur)
- 7oz PennyBrite® Copper Cleaner
- 1 StazOn® Ink Pad
- Six 6×0.5″ 20-gauge copper sheet strips
- 3 copper metal blanks (styles vary)
- An ink resist
- Duct tape
- A plastic container (preferably a resealable one)
- A wire brush
- Hand polishing supplies OR a tumbler, steel shot, and ShineBrite
If you’re cutting your own shapes from metal strips or sheet, you’ll also want:
♥ Before getting started, take a moment to review some safety suggestions featured in our post titled “Safety considerations for etching metal with chemicals”.
Once you’ve reviewed the safety considerations, you’re ready to get started!
Copper, brass, and nickel silver are perfect metal choices for this process. For the best results, select metal that is 20 gauge or thicker.
If you’re making your own shapes from metal sheet, use metal shears to cut out your shapes. Then, flatten the cut metal with a nylon mallet and steel block.
Filing the edges of hand-cut metal shapes will get rid of any sharp edges!
Before adding the design you want to etch, make sure the surface of your metal is clean.
A “resist” is what you use to add your design to the metal. StazOn® ink and Sharpie® permanent markers are both great resists to use. The inked portion of the metal will be protected from the acid, resulting in a raised pattern. For more information on resists, read our “Metal Etching 101” Tutorial.
You can add finishing details using an extra-fine-tipped Sharpie pen. Make sure to let the ink dry thoroughly after you’ve applied your design.
Make a “boat” to allow your metal blank to float in the acid tub:
Place your metal blank onto the face of the styrofoam float with the patterned-side out. The sticky side of the duct tape will also act as a resist, preventing acid from etching the back side of the blank.
Now you’re ready to place your float boat into the ferric chloride!
Make sure to use gloves to avoid getting acid on your skin.
After about 20 minutes, check to see if the etching is deep enough.
Once the etching is at the depth you prefer, it’s time to neutralize the acid and clean off the design:
Polishing is the final step. If you have a tumbler, it makes your work easy! Otherwise, you can hand polish using sanding sponges and polishing pads.
For more fabulous etching inspiration and creations, visit Tiffany’s blog post, “DIY Etched Bullet Necklaces”.
♥ Make Things!