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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Etching with Carol Webb

In the beginning of November, Carol Webb arrived in Atlanta to give us an excellent, information packed three-day workshop on etching.  Here are a couple of Carol's finished pieces (copper and silver laminate) in case you aren't familiar with her work:

We started off by transferring our black and white designs onto blue PnP paper, which we then transferred onto copper (with heat from a warming tray).  Our first assignment was to completely etch through the metal.   

Here's Carol doing a little annealing:

We then layed our plates face down in a batch of etching solution and checked them every ten minutes or so until the design had etched all the way through.  You can see in the photo below where the etchant is cutting right through the metal.  

Here are examples of student experiments showing how the black sections of the design will stay copper while the white will be removed.  I can't tell you how many times we mixed this up.

We also did some heavy duty etching in this spray etcher.  It was amazing how deep the etchings were in a fraction of the time.  This technique is perfect for using etched brass plates to transfer onto sterling silver through a rolling mill.

The major reason I took this class was to learn how to make and etch copper and silver laminate (bi-metal).  To accomplish this, we started with sterling or fine silver sheet (20 to 12 ga), along with a sheet of copper (26 to 24 ga) and heated it until a eutectic bond was formed, which can take some time.  Often it takes more than one attempt with the torch.  We then rolled the bi-metal down to the gauge we needed for our project.  At this point, we simply followed the previous exercises in etching to get the results desired.  Carol also showed us how to use different patinas to cause a striking contrast between the silver and the copper (see first picture above).

We somehow managed to do all of this in three days!  It was an amazing amount of information to to cover in such a short time, but Carol was organized and kept us all on task throughout the entire class.   She gave excellent instructions and handouts to help us along, plus provided us with pages and pages of designs to use in our projects.  I learned so much my head was spinning...and that's the way I like it.