Acid etching Silver: the results

In January I decided to try out acid etching. Having never tried it before my first attempt which I documented in this blog wasn’t a complete success.  The etching was good but the silver was slightly marked in places and definitely not good enough to sell. I said at the end of the post that I would try different techniques and put up some photos when I thought I had it cracked! So here’s the story of my extensive testing and the results.

If you want to see my previous posts on acid etching click here.

First attempt at acid etching

First attempt at acid etching

The problem I had with the etching was that the acid was eating through the resist in certain areas leaving me with little marks on the parts of the silver that I wanted untouched. Rather than waste silver sheet, I began doing a series of tests on the different resists using some scrap silver. This way I could figure out which resist wasn’t doing it’s job.

The technique I used was to transfer a photocopy on acetate onto a clean silver sheet using heat so the printer ink acts as a resist. When I tested this on it’s own it worked perfectly but only when the image was transferred without gaps or marks. This meant controlling the heat when I was transferring the ink. Too little heat and the image would not transfer completely. Too much heat and the ink would run into the design blurring the fine detail. Once I resolved the heat problem, the ink held up in the acid so at least I knew the printer ink worked.

The next thing I used on the silver to patch up any gaps left by the photocopy transfer was a red Staedtler permanent marker. I had read on a few acid etching websites that this was the best to resist the acid. Unfortunately it didn’t work for me, after a few hours in the acid it began to break down and let the acid attack the silver. I tried putting extra layers of it on the silver but it made very little difference so the red marker has been relegated to the office.

Staedtler marker retired to the office

Staedtler marker retired to the office

 

The final thing I tested was the nail varnish as I used this to cover the sides and the back of the silver for etching. This was by far the best. I left it in the acid bath for eight hours and I still had to scrub it with nail varnish remover when I took it out.

Since then I’ve ditched the marker and am using the photocopy transferring which I’m touching up with nail varnish. While previously I only used the nail varnish for the edges and back, I now use it to touch up any areas of the printer ink that haven’t transferred. I use a bright opaque colour nail varnish so I can see clearly what areas have been covered and make sure it doesn’t run into the design.  I’ve tried it on a number of different designs and it hasn’t let me down. The great thing about this is the level of detail I can achieve. Here are a few photos of some of the pieces I’ve done recently.

Etched Cufflinks

Etched Cufflinks

 

Etched Celtic Cufflinks

Etched Celtic Cufflinks

 

Etched Claddagh Tie Pin

Etched Claddagh Tie Pin

Leave a Reply

Your email is never shared.Required fields are marked *