Saturday, April 20, 2013

Linking and Etching and Firing, Oh My!

We got lucky and Ken Bova came back again to show us not only how to use an assortment of links and cold connections to make our Story Chains, but also how to make the famous "Chopstick Hammer!"  You can see a photo of Ken's hammer on his blog. (I'd show you mine, but I haven't finished it yet.)  He also threw in demonstrations on torch enameling and another on etching with saltwater.  I've been busy in my studio ever since torch firing until I've practically burned down the house and today I began etching designs on copper!  

I have about 1/3 of my Story Chain finished, so will work on it as time goes on, attaching small, meaningful artifacts that would make nice additions.  Let's start with some photos of the Story Chain.  Many students created a "theme" chain.  The one below is about Deanna's parents, with each piece telling a little story about their lives together.

Pam's chain is about things that can make sound:

Gillian made hers based on life experiences and events, especially her son's upcoming wedding:

Mine is an assortment of small mementos from my life, plus additional stones and things to make it look pretty. 

Susan chose a game theme for her chain and I can't wait to see it when it is finished!

This morning I decided to try the saltwater etching process that Ken taught us.  Basically, after using any of the following paints/markers that will repel the etchant, and making a design of some sort on a piece of copper (after cleaning), I filled a plastic container (never use metal) with water and a LOT of Kosher salt (it must be saturated with salt) and heated it in the microwave until no more salt would dissolve.  I then attached a battery pack with 4 D batteries to the ends of two alligator clips - a negative and a positive.  I hung my copper piece (anode) on a copper wire and hung it over the edge of the plastic container.  I then made another wire with a plain piece of copper and hung it in the solution, as well (cathode).  I attached the positive alligator clip (red) to the copper wire holding my piece and the black (negative) to the wire holding the plain piece of copper and suddenly the plain piece began to bubble (see photo below).  After awhile, the liquid will turn copper colored as the piece is etched.  (Don't forget to cover the back of your copper piece with duct tape to keep it from being etched.)

After experimenting with four D batteries, I then changed to a car battery charger that we had in the garage and set it on the 6 volt setting.  Both worked equally as well.

I would say it took about 20 to 25 minutes for my piece to etch.  Amazing.   So clean and so simple.  I cleaned off the residue of paint pen with acetone and can now use the etched copper in a piece of jewelry.

And for the torch firing experiment, this is the best color I was able to come up with doing this on my own.  I had been hoping to get some purples and oranges  (I'm only using white enamel here), but this is as good as it got. 

Thanks, Ken, for another great workshop!