Having prepared my silver I then make up my ferric nitrate etching solution. This is done in a plastic container with a tray under it in case of any spills. The ferric nitrate needs to be stored in plastic or glass with plastic lids as it will rust and corrode metal.
In my acid etching area I have the etching bath plastic container and tray, a measuring jug, distilled water and a weighing scales.
I start by measuring the distilled water. The guide I got from the Goss Design Studio website on silver etching is to use 200ml of distilled water to 150grams of ferric nitrate. It says you can also add nitric acid to kick start the solution but I don’t like working with neat acid if I can avoid it.
I then weigh my ferric nitrate crystals and add it to my distilled water. I use a plastic spatula, you can also use a wooden spoon. Although the ferric nitrate isn’t a pure acid you need to wear protective clothing and gloves. It doesn’t give off fumes but I still did all my preparation in a well ventilated area. The most important thing to remember when mixing the solution is to always add the ferric nitrate to the water and not the other way around.
Once the solution is mixed I’m ready to immerse my silver pieces for etching. The piece has to sit face down in the bath so the corroded silver particles can fall away and not clog the design. The best way I’ve found to do this is to tape the silver onto a square of Styrofoam so it floats.
Once the piece is put in the ferric nitrate I set my alarm so I can check the piece every thirty minutes.
You can see the results in of the etching in Part 4.