Etching with Acid Part 4

This is part four of a series on acid etching silver. Click on the links to see Part one, two and three.

Checking the depth of etching
Checking the depth of etching

The silver was immersed in the ferric nitrate solution. I checked the piece every hour, I had initially decided to check it every 30 minutes but it proved a bit pointless since it took six hours to etch. I was able to test the depth of the etching with a cocktail stick. The point of the stick catches on the edges of the lines so you can feel how deep the etch is, if it slides across the design you know it hasn’t etched deep enough.

When I thought it was deep enough I removed the piece from the etching bath and put it in a mix of water and baking soda to stop the ferric nitrate from continuing to eat into the silver. It starts fizzing when it reacts with the baking soda, this is a good thing! When it stops fizzing you know the ferric nitrate has been neutralized, I took it out and rinsed it in water. When I took off the tape and cleaned off the nail varnish here’s what I got.

After resist has been removed

After resist has been removed

When I polished up the silver the areas that the etch had eaten through was easier to see. It only ate away the area that had been masked with the red marker, so at least now I know not to use Marker as a resist in future. I was really happy with the texture of the etched area, it’s a great contrast to the polished silver.

Cleaned and polished silver
Cleaned and polished silver

I finished by doming the disk and giving it a final polish. And here’s the finished piece, not as perfect as I would have hoped but not bad for a first attempt at acid etching. Test pieces like these obviously should never see the light of day. When I have an acid etched piece I am happy with, I’ll be sure to post pictures of the finished product.

Polished and domed
Polished and domed

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