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Etching detailed patterns


#1

Can someone tell me about etching. I have been trying to silk
screen my designs onto silver but I am getting a lot of pitting due
to the resist peelig up or coming off in places. I saw some amazing
jewelry where the artist had written or typed words onto the metal.
How did he/she do that? Could I actually use my computer to type
text, transfer that to silk screen with the photo process and then
squegee resist through the silk onto the silver and then put it in
the etching solution? I have one of those Goco print outfits, but I
haven’t had much luck with very small, detailed patterns. Linda


#2
Looking for how to etch those letters? 

Hello Linda; I would bet that what you saw was accomplished with the
old “zippatone” rub on lettering that used to be commonly used by
graphic artists before the advent of computers. There were letters,
numbers, figures, patterns, all kinds of stuff. Perhaps you might
find those materials at artist’s supply stores. The letters, etc.,
were a waxy plastic material on slightly opaque sheets. You located
the lettering over the area you wanted to place them and rubbed the
back of the sheet with an orange stick (used by old fashioned
manicurists) which transfered them to the paper. If you can’t find
them at the local art supply store, here’s a jewelry supplier that
has them. They’re on page 102 of their tool catalog.

A&A Jewelry Supply
1-800-433-5544
319 W. 6th St.
Los Angeles CA 90014
http://www.aajewelry.com
e-mail orders: orders@aajewelry.com


#3

Hello Linda If you look in most issues of Popular Electronics you
will find there is a “printable resist” for the home hobbiest to make
printed circuit boards. The techniques used for etching in jewelry
are the same, albeit, the echants are typically different. These
"printable resists" can be put through a laser printer, and the
resultant printout is ironed onto the circuit board in question.
There are also a variety of “letraset” transfers, graphic/art stores
used to carry them are press to apply designs and can be used as
resist media. The artist in question may be using one of these
techniques.

I hope this helps you out.

If you have any further questions about these products, drop me a
line.

Best regards,
Dave Nitschke


#4
 I have one of those Goco print outfits 

Hi Linda, I’m in the same boat… due to the fact I can be stubborn
and ornery. I invested in the Print Gocco silk screening setup for
applying the etching resist… but there is a better way. Karen
Christians (of Metalwerx in Woburn, MA) has been telling me to put it
on the shelf and use the easier process, but I figure if I spent
money on this setup, I’m damn well gonna make it work! My problem is
getting a good, consistent layer of resist applied through the
screen. Its been about six months since I touched it… and the great
conceptual project is at a standstill.

There are two processes about which I’ve read that allow you to
transfer a printed pattern directly to the metal, without a silk
screen. This is probably ideal for text, which is a key element of my
concept. One process uses a photocopy with black toner, and the toner
is transferred from the paper to the metal to act as the resist. The
other uses a technology called PNP, used for making printed circuit
boards. The concept is the same, transferring a pattern directly to
the metal to act as a resist.

I suspect that someone will respond with more details on these
processes, or you can probably find it described in the Orchid
archives. Eventually I hope to give up on my Gocco and get this
project rolling again. I really hate to give up on something, but
banging my head against the wall gets painful after a year or two!
Not to mention I could probably have used the sterling sheet for
something else in the mean time…

All the best,
Dave
Dave Sebaste
Sebaste Studio and
Carolina Artisans’ Gallery
Charlotte, NC (USA)
dave@sebaste.com


#5

See this February Issue of Glass on Metal for excellent article by
Philip Quanjer on photoetching etc for producing cloisonne, champleve
enamel items. Technique is also explained on the website of the
Society of Dutch Enamelists @ http://www.enamellers.nl/english/

Al Heywood


#6

Hello Linda, Have you tried an asphalt base etch ground, maybe use a
bit more therpentine as medium. The medium may not evaporate to fast,
you want to have the masking flow together as a closed layer. I have
never used the silk screen printing. I normaly draw my patern in
with a needle. Also a to strong accid mixture can destroy the masked
areas. and can couse pitting. and unsharp edges. I use for silver a
25% nitric accid solution and for approx 5 to 12 minutes. at 20
dregrees Celcius. If the etching goes to fast the bubbles can destroy
the edges. Also a good removal of the bubbles will help, use a
feather to wipe them of.

Martin Niemeijer


#7

I haven’t been able to find these rub on letters for quite some
time. Thanks for the source. I have used them for etching with good
results but mostly I use them on wax as a template. They WILL STICK
to Wax. They are great for making initial rings to be cast. Frank
Goss


#8
   Can someone tell me about etching.  I have been trying to silk
screen my designs onto silver but I am getting a lot of pitting
due to the resist peeling up or coming off in places.  I saw some
amazing jewelry where the artist had written or typed words onto
the metal. How did he/she do that?  Could I actually use my
computer to type text, transfer that to silk screen with the photo
process and then squeegee resist through the silk onto the silver
and then put it in the etching solution?  I have one of those Goco
print outfits, but I haven't had much luck with very small,
detailed patterns. Linda 

Linda, have you looked into a technique called photo etching?
basically yo u provide artwork and sheet silver to the photo etching
company who then use a photographic technique to apply the resist to
the silver and then dip the sheet into the acid. the whole process
is carried out mechanically and is extremely accurate and great for
fine detail, text, etc i understand the technique is used for
engineering and manufacturing. the only real draw back maybe minimum
orders, etc. sorry i can’t put you on to anyone in the US, but i do
have a UK connection (contact me off list for details). Sally

@sally1
http://www.inspirals.co.uk


#9
     I haven't been able to find these rub on letters for quite
some time. Thanks for the source. I have used them for etching with
good results but mostly I use them on wax as a template. They WILL
STICK to Wax. They are great for making initial rings to be cast.
Frank Goss 

Greetings Frank, GRS (800) 835-3519 has transfer letters in script,
and in old english. You may also be able to find them at an art
supplier that sells graphic design supplies. HTH, Kate Wolf in Portland
Maine http://www.katewolfdesigns.com


#10

Frank, I have some “Letraset” and other rub-down lettering in my art
supplies.(I was a typographer in a previous lifetime.)

I do ALL that stuff with my computer and laer printer now. If you will
send me your snail mail address offline, I will mail some to you. David
Barzilay, Lord of the Rings


#11

Thank you! I am having some of these problems and now I know why.
I am very new at this and the books just don’t have enough
BTW How do you dispose of the nitric acid when you are
done? I hate to pour it down the drain. I have been storing it in
a jar until I can find out where to dispose of it.


#12
 Frank, I have some "Letraset" and other rub-down lettering in my
art supplies.(I was a typographer in a previous lifetime.) I do ALL
that stuff with my computer and laer printer now. If you will send
me your snail mail address offline, I will mail some to you. David
Barzilay, Lord of the Rings 

Hi David, Could you tell us your process- how you take your laser
copied type and transfer it onto the metal? Also, does this work with
an inkjet printer? Thank you! Best Regards, Kate Wolf in Portland,
Maine http://www.katewolfdesigns.com


#13

Thanks for the generous offer David. I also have a store of letraset
and a computer with more fonts than I will ever use. The last time I
went shopping for some letraset (i don’t even remember what it was
for) the art store had discontinued the line. I (thank the jewelry
gods)have discontinued making initial rings. My needs for the
product are minimal at this point but it is always nice to have a
source for those things you are use to using. Thanks again for the
offer.Where else but orchid would I find such kind, generous and
helpful colleagues…Frank Goss


#14

I have used the photocopy / iron-on process with some success, BUT
the ironing-on is problematic. Since copier and laser printer toner
are very fine-grained, excellent detail is possible. [Fine to me may
be coarse to you! I was etching metal panels for kaleidoscope
bodies, 3" X 10" panels.] However, I was never able to achieve a 100%
transfer of pattern off of the carrier material - there would be
"dropouts" or gaps in the transferred toner. I was using this to
create fields of texture or “busy” patterns and, I suspect, on larger
pieces than many of you might work with; on smaller pieces you might
be able to invest the time to go back and touch-up any missing resist
that didn’t transfer from the carrier.

I think there are many variables using this material, that I haven’t
had time or resources to quantify - such as the temperature on the
fixing rollers in the copy machine. The material I used was bought at
an electronics store, was clear plastic sheets about $7 US for 5
8.5 X 11 sheets. It was supposed to work in a computer’s laser
printer but my attempt yielded a sheet that was a little rumpled and
heat-distorted. Go to a copy store if at all possible and you may
have to show them the packaging label before they will risk feeding
the sheets through their machines… If you are working with text you
will of course need to print it from your computer backwards, and
take that to the copy store, so that text reads correctly after you
turn the sheet over and iron it on.

Caveat: It is difficult to iron-on over irregular surfaces - flat
surface works best. I always cleaned the metal well before applying
pattern. It might help to lightly etch, blast or otherwise roughen a
surface to help pattern adhere - I never experimented with this. For
my purposes the dropouts contributed to the character of the textures
I was using.

Another caveat: I was working only with brass and copper. The
ironed-on toner held up as well as other resists against the ferric
chloride “printed circuit” etchant but I did not work with solutions
used to etch other metals. Generally I have found it helpful to heat
the solution [ I put my etching container on an electric hotplate.]
and also bubble-aerate or pump-circulate the etchant during the
process to achieve a consistent depth of etch across larger pieces;
this also reduces time in the solution and extended time can lead to
erosion of the resist and destruction of the pattern.

Hope this helps, good luck! michael


#15
   BTW How do you dispose of the nitric acid when you are done?  I
hate to pour it down the drain." 

1 Add scrap copper to it and let it sit until there is no more
action. Allow the water to evporate and you have copper nitrate. Very
useful in mixing with glues to enable granulation.

2 Add chips of marble or bicarbonate of soda to it until there is no
more action. Let the water evaporate and then put the residue into
the sweeps bin - the silver in the silver nitrate can be regained by
your dealer.

Tony Konrath


#16

David, before you give away all your ‘letraset’ try laser printing
on the blue backing [burnishing] sheet that comes with it. For those
who have not seen this product the blue sheet is a 'silicon?'
impregnated paper that works very well for doing your own laser toner
transfers onto metal.

It seems the graphic supply places around here [Vancouver Island,
BC, Canada] don’t stock ‘letraset’ anymore so the best sources I
would suggest is to phone around to local print shops, silk screen
shops, draftspeople, architectural places, graphic artists, etc. and
ask if they have some kicking around in a back room and offer to
’take it off their hands’ for a fee or free - all you’re really after
is the blue burnishing sheet. Another option that I haven’t tried is
a transfer paper silk screeners use for T-shirt transfers which is
supposed to be a ‘silicon’ transfer paper [might work]. Or just order
some PNP Blue from wherever one orders it.

The transfer process that I found to work was to:

  1. laser print your image on this paper - remember to make your
    image ‘wrong reading’, it will come out ‘right reading’ when
    transfered. If your printer allows it, set the toner density to high.

  2. put away your iron and get out that ‘coffee warmer’ thing which
    seems to run at about 180 degrees F [82 C], if your piece is too
    large for this an electric fry pan set at around 180F [82C] will
    work.

  3. give your metal a bit of a tooth with ‘scotchbrite’ pad or
    whatever you choose, clean your metal of all grease and oils [finger
    prints included]. I just wave it about in the hot pickle for a bit.

  4. rinse and dry metal with paper towel and handling by edges only
    place on coffee warmer [or fry pan] business side up, let metal heat
    up.

  5. place your transfer [toner down] on warm metal and using your
    burnisher start burnishing your image onto the metal. Use a heavy
    leather glove [or whatever works for you] to hold the transfer in
    place. Tape doesn’t work - the adhesive will not hold when heated.

  6. you will be able to see the image start to ‘grey out’ as it
    transfers [just like ‘letraset’] and you will be able to tell where
    it hasn’t transfered and go back and fix. I prefer to burnish from
    one end and work my way up the image rather than from the center out.

Hope this is of some help and at least semi-clear.

Lorne


#17

Sorry, you misunderstood my reply. I have rubdown letters which I
used to use for type for PRINT advertising, signs, etc. Now I do
THOSE with my computer. I don’t transfer to metal in my business. You
could investigate “letterpress cuts” and “liquid photo emulsion” and
the process used for photo reproduction rubber stamps. If you phone
me at (213) 488 5100, I’ll be glad to discuss it with you. David


#18

I did a semester of etching, trying various resists a couple of years
ago. The silk screen etch with Print Gocco was interesting, but not
completely solid, however, giving some texture even in the areas
covered with resist. Letters and sharp lines were almost impossible.
A resist using overhead transparency sheets (ironed on the metal)
with the design put on with a copy machine or a laser printer gave
much sharper designs and a better resist but I found that even this
varies with the manufacturer of the transparency sheets. By far the
best resist for really sharp etching is the PnP Blue (also ironed on
the metal). I’ve gone through more than a hundred sheets of this
stuff! It gives beautiful lines and crisp lettering and if you etch a
plate in copper, it works well for rolling designs onto silver in the
rolling mill. Asphaltum resists are more time consuming to work with;
you can also get some interesting background texture using a spray
paint lightly over areas masked out with tape. Donna in VA


#19
    BTW How do you dispose of the nitric acid when you are done?  I
hate to pour it down the drain.  I have been storing it in a jar
until I can find out where to dispose of it. 

G’day ‘Polymaid’; You can dispose of nitric acid by first
neutralizing it with sodium bicarbonate - baking powder, or sodium
carbonate - washing soda - until there is no more fizzing. Mix it
with some inorganic material such as sand or even dry soil, but DO
NOT use sawdust or shavings, for there is a possibility of it
igniting spontaneously. Spread the sand/neutralized mix on a non
metallic surface - heavy polythene is OK - and allow it to dry
thoroughly in the sun (if there is any where you are!). Simply
bundle it up and dispose of it in the usual way of solid waste. It
will contain sodium nitrate which is used as a fertilizer. – Cheers
for now, John Burgess; @John_Burgess2 of Mapua Nelson NZ


#20
    Hi David, Could you tell us your process- how you take your
laser copied type and transfer it onto the metal? Also, does this
work with an inkjet printer? Thank you! Best Regards, Kate Wolf in 
Portland, 

Kate – Just to add another voice to the mix – this is the
methodology I was taught, and while it’s not something I do often (I
don’t do much etching), it worked for me: (it’s pretty low-tech,
really) –

  1. Use a laser printer to create the resist, as the toner is what
    does this job – the kind that is the powdered toner that you don’t
    want to get onto your clothes.

  2. If you are planning to use words or letters, you will actually
    need a mirror image of the words that you want to etch (you can copy
    them onto a piece of acetate and then take this & turn over & use
    with the original artwork you are going to use.)

  3. Clean your metal – make sure there is no grease on the surface,
    or it will interfere with the resist sticking to the metal; make
    sure that the last substance used will leave it with an alkaline
    surface – I believe paint thinner will do this for you.

  4. Print your artwork, using this laser printer on acetate – and
    the most important is to make sure that there are NO fingerprints on
    the sheet anywhere – otherwise they will show up on your etch. (If
    you buy your acetate a sheet at a time from someplace like Staples or
    Office Depot, pick it from the middle, put it between sheets of paper
    or in a folder immediately, and only touch the corners with your
    fingertips.)

  5. To transfer the artwork from the acetate to your metal – use an
    iron on the cotton / linen setting. Use a burnisher to rub the
    acetate to ensure a good transfer. I also use a small piece of
    masking tape at the top to keep the acetate in position on the metal
    until after I have determined that the transfer has worked properly.
    After you iron the transfer on, let it cool before you take the
    acetate off. You can lift it slowly, to make sure that you have
    gotten all of the powdered toner down, and re-heat it on the iron if
    you’ve found that it hasn’t worked. (I usually put the iron handle
    into a vise and use the ironing surface to put the metal on with the
    acetate on top.)

Laura
lwiesler@att.net