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Economical Etching


#1

I am just starting up my jewellery business after several years of
secondary school teaching in order to raise funds to start the
business without it substantially affecting the financial situation
of my family. While I was teaching I made comissions for friends and
family just to keep my skills awake. Now that I am going to be
living off my own productivity I need to be economical with my time
and make sure I’m not wasting any of it!

I use PnP as a resist for my etched silver jewellery and up until
now have always used Nitric acid with varying results. Sometimes the
bite is perfect and the resist stays in place but other times the
resist will lift and bubble after only a couple of minutes. This
leaves me with a big panic trying to get the piece out of the acid
and neutralised before irreversable damage is caused. At present I
resurrect damaged pieces with careful burnishing. This wasn’t an
issue previously, but now I am making in bulk I can’t help feeling
that time is being wasted.

I have tried varying the concentrations and this doesn’t seem to
make any difference, it just seems to be pot luck. I initially
thought maybe my silver wasn’t clean enough but after
experimentation that doesnt seem to be the cause either. It is
definately to do with the acid side of things rather than my
preparation of the silver. The only things that I can think of is
that I use tap water and maybe the chemical levels vary from time to
time, there may be very slight temperature changes or maybe its just
the character of nitric acid to be unpredictable.

I still have loads of Nitric acid left and so I don’t want to change
mordant unless it is going to substantially benefit me. However
etching copper with Ferric chloride is just so much easier and
stress free in comparison. Is using Ferric nitrate as easy to use
and does it give as good results as Ferric chloride?

Thanks
Ali

Sheffield UK


#2

Ali, As you have already discovered the PnP will not hold up in
Nitric Acid. However, it will hold up well in Ferric Nitrate. The
pocess of etching silver with Ferric Nitrate is the same as etching
copper with Ferric Chloride. You will save a lot of time and grief if
you switch to Ferric Nitrate when etching silver.

Alma


#3
I still have loads of Nitric acid left and so I don't want to
change mordant unless it is going to substantially benefit me.
However etching copper with Ferric chloride is just so much easier
and stress free in comparison. Is using Ferric nitrate as easy to
use and does it give as good results as Ferric chloride? 

Personally, I dislike using ferric nitrate, because it is slow, and
it is opaque. Same for ferric chloride, but there isn’t any
alternative.

I would try pre-etching your silver sheet for 1 minute in nitric
before applying resist. I iron my images on from a photocopy on
acetate, rather than using PnP, but I find that the pre-etch gives
the silver more “tooth” to hold the resist on.

Noel