Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Metal Clay Class 101

Tonight I promised the attendees from the craftcast metal clay101 class that I would post a picture of Michelle’s ring. She made this ring without a mandrel and used only a needle tool to write script in the wet clay. It is very tiny, like a pinky ring.

I etched this brass cuff bracelet this weekend. I used a pen to draw freehand on the brass and then etched it with the E3 Etch controller. I want to make more of these, if only there were more hours in the day.

Here is another view of the etched bracelet.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Etching on Metal, going green

Last summer my husband Dan, who is an electrical engineer, observed that many of the bead shows I was teaching at featured metal etching classes. He was surprised to see that all of them were using ferric chloride as a way to chemically etch the metal to create the jewelry pieces. He said, “Why are they still doing it that way?” In recent years this chemical has been harder to come by, it cannot be shipped and is hazardous to dispose of. After some research he decided to experiment with electrical etching (which by the way dates back to the late 1700′s) however, combined with new technology he discovered a better way to accomplish electrical etching. Dan designed a micro-controller, which is a small brain that regulates the voltage to constantly adjust which in turn allows one to safely etch in a predictable fashion.

After countless hours of experimentation and programming, Dan finally came up with a design he was satisfied with. We decided to patent and market this product as a tool that would allow craftspeople to etch on copper, brass, nickel silver or even bronze and copper clay without having to deal with methods that were more problematic. The best part is that it is Green! With today’s emphasis on using products that do not harm the environment, this meets the criteria. With this product, the etching solution can be re-used indefinitely so you never have to think about buying etching supplies other than what you plan to etch on. Or if you decide to dispose of the solution, you simply flush it down the drain (it’s meant to be used this way to keep pipes free of tap roots).

So nine months later, we are starting to sell these from my webstore, which by the way has a new format.

We are pretty anxious to see what bench jewelers and jewelry artists come up with using this product. I was super excited to use it on metal clay, thanks to a suggestion by Kathleen Davis. We are also able to use it for silver etching as well as ectroforming and electroplating. For silver etching, a different etching solution must be used. We are in the process of developing the correct ratio and method for etching on silver. My good friend Cassy Muronaka has been very supportive with ideas and promoting this product, I can’t wait to see how she uses it in her work.