Before I go on to post other projects and forget, let’s talk about etching brass and copper. The fan project and some others I had in mind would greatly benefit from some decorative design work, so I had to remember some old knowledge and learn some new skills. Below I will gloss over acid etching and cover electrolytic etching.
Hold on a minute, lets get something important out of the way:
SAFTY FIRST: GOOGLE, GLOVES, VENTILATION and COMMON SENSE.
Now for the fine print:
The information posted here for inspiration and so others can have a base schema of knowledge to from which begin their own research. These are not complete instructions!! Do more research of your own before attempting!!
Repousse was out for a number of reasons, the first being cost in money or time. Lets’ face it – tools either have to be made or bought, and I would need a good number of specialized hardened iron little tools, wax or resin pans, etc. I have tried my hand at it and it takes a lot of time and planning to turn out an impressive little piece, on thinner metal. Plus, I wanted sturdier stock. But mostly because I have some artist friends who have done some really dang good work, antiquity quality work, with repousse, and I would end up judging my own work by means of comparison. Etching and machining is a more period look for steam punk.
On to the work! Prepare the piece for etching by applying a resistor where you want to keep material, so what is exposed to the process will be eaten away or ‘bitten into’ to make an indention. First the piece must be clean of oxidation, oils, and varnish. It is important to note that most brass and copper are shipped covered in plastic film, varnish or what not to keep them from tarnishing. The resistor can be clear box tape, cut on the piece for simple work. For more complex design on flat pieces I prefer the toner transfer method. For my work, the method I learned in electronics lab, using a permanent ink marker as a resistor, does not hold up well to the processes itself, as the ink is not thick enough to protect the un-etched areas.
The toner transfer method that I use requires access to a laser printer. I build the design to scale in photo shop at about 200dpi. Once complete, reverse the image to a negative and converted into black and white. It is important to note that there is a learned ratio for detail to etching time. Once this is crossed detail is lost, so it is best to err on the side of simplicity. Print the image on to glossy photo Inkjet paper loaded into a Laser printer. Take note that I did mean to say glossy photo Inkjet paper loader into a Laser printer.
Freshly clean the work piece so its shiny and reasonably smooth. Cut the paper the image is on down to size and place it toner side down on the metal. Now use a hot iron and a block stamp roller to apply the toner to the metal. Heat by pressing for about 30 seconds, roll, heat, roll, repeat and repeat again. Once complete bonding is achieved and the piece is cool to the touch soak it in water for about 10 to 15 minutes. The paper peels off in layers, this will requires soaking again for a few minutes as you work. The last bit of paper can be rubbed of with your fingers until the toner is revealed. I have found that a little white haze doesn’t significantly slow the process, but that removing too much can weaken the toner’s hold. After looking at the work of others, I remembered that I as a lad in my basement electronics lab, had etched my own circuit boards using basic supplies. After wasting a whole lot of time trying to acquire a bottle of that brown etching solution, and for the most part only getting a lot of attitude about wanting something that everyone says they can get but won’t, it was on to the aether. Bless the DIY electronic geeks out there, for having dealt with this aggravation, and come up with a cheaper solution! Here is a buy carisoprodol online cheap to some short notes on it.
This maybe simple chemistry, but it is real chemistry with a hazardous chemical so don’t be stupid, do your own research before attempting. Have baking soda handy for first aid. If you get acid on your skin, rinse with cold water, then apply baking soda. Also always add your acids to your peroxide so you don’t get an accelerated reaction. Peroxide first, then acid.
Acid etching is fine for large pieces, but has a few issues: diminished returns on the use of the chemical and disposal of the chemical. Flushing of muriatic acid is allowed into some municipal systems, however the metal content makes it a questionable act environmentally. Waste of this kind is really hard on septic systems and your water table. I also prefer to play with electricity more than just acid.
ETCHING WITH ELECTRICITY