by Lady Mockingbird.
Acid Etching sounds scary just reading the first word, and I was definitely very hesitant to try it.
But to improve as a metal smith and jewelry artist often means stretching out of one’s comfort zone, and this process was definitely a big stretch for me.
I spent over a year off & on researching the process, debating about the purchase of a laser printer, and seeking cost effective ways to do this in my very small maker studio.
I opted to begin with brass and copper first trying the glossy magazine page method to transfer the toner.
That did not go as I’d hoped, the magazine pages did transfer the toner somewhat but developed large air bubbles which left huge gaps in the transferred pattern, the paper also didn’t come off cleanly after soaking.
So, I used sharpie marker to color over the side with the unsuccessful transfer and ordered specialty paper just for toner transfer.
This was more successful but still didn’t rub off cleanly after soaking.
It was successful enough though that I opted to do a small sheet of sterling on the same day that I did the copper and brass.
I’ve since ordered but not yet tried the press n peel transfer medium generally used in making circuit boards, which are acid etched using a toner transfer process.
I opted to use muriatic acid and hydrogen peroxide as it it makes up an etchant that is a bit milder and is easier to source since both materials are readily available (at hardware store and drugstore respectively).
I placed an electric fan on the same table as the two glass trays with the etchant solution to act as a mild agitator (which it did beautifully) and checked the progress after an hour, then every thirty minutes.
At 3 hours the brass seemed fully etched, and the copper in the same bath also looked good.
The silver also seemed good, but after cleaning it turned out that the etch was barely visible unless you tilted the silver one way or another.
So I’ll be looking to do an electro-etch set up to try and etch the opposite side of that sheet since I don’t want to purchase and use the much more caustic and dangerous acids that are recommended for sterling.
One quick note about adding in the baking soda to neutralize the acid after you are done, take the trays outside first.
The baking soda reacts with the acid foaming up like freshly poured beer that’s been shaken vigourously.
It sends up a mist that wets every surface for a couple of feet around the tray.