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Etching letters into silver

I have a friend who makes hand stamped jewelry, stamping words or
symbols into 1mm thick sterling. She occasionally needs to etch hand
written words into sterling and has been having trouble with that. I
haven’t etched anything since 1978 and so I have been no help at

How do people do it? It seems like when she uses PnP paper she gets
sort of an irregular edge rather than a really crisp edge along the
lines of the letters. She also hasn’t found a way to to sharpen up
the signature image itself in Photoshop to remove the irregular
edge. Any tips for that, and for the whole process, would be very
much appreciated.

I think people also do it in metal clay. That’s not how she it
trying to do it, but I am interested in how they do that as well.
Are they making a stamp to replicate a hand written word? If so, how
do you do that?

Thanks for the help!

She could learn to hand engrave. Or just job it out to someone who

Have fun and make lots of jewelry.
Jo Haemer

The poster asked about etching as well as stamps.

A stamp is easy to purchase through any service that offers custom
stamps. Years ago I had my signature made into a stamp to use along
with my custom logo stamp. Using a black permanent pen, I wrote my
name many times on a white glossy background. The “gloss” helps in
that the pen ink doesn’t bleed into paper fibers. Then picked the
one that looked best to me and sent itoff with instructions for
reduction to finished size. My last name is clearly readable at

The stamp gives consistency and repeatability.

For etching, I find the product ImageOn Ultra to be superior to PnP.
Withthe ImageOn I can achieve consistent detail and sharp edges. It
may be purchased through Daniel Smith art supplies. When ordering
first time also askfor the detailed instructions.

ImageOn Ultra is a photo sensitive film. One can write out words, or
whole sayings, on transparent acetate sheet and use that to expose
the film. In sunny So Cal that exposure is about 30 seconds using
sunlight. The equipment I use is an old hair dryer and a digital
timer. The 2 common chemicalsrequired may be purchased for a few
dollars at the local grocery store.

I etch very deep and leave the item in the appropriate etchant for 4
hours. I have used ImageOn for etching copper, brass, nickel silver
and fine silver.

Orchid Rules…Karla Maxwell in sunny S. California

Karla, Daniel Smith doesn’t appear to carry ImageOn Ultra and a
google of it turns up nada. Are you sure of it? Barbara

I would like to add to Karla’s post that you can get a small amount
of Imag-on from Enamel Work Supply if you don’t want a whole roll.


Wow, a chill went up my spine at the thought that I could no longer
purchase my wonderful ImageOn. Turns out they have changed the name
[again] to ImageOn HD. Have been using it for years [now through 4
name changes]. Still available from Daniel Smith, check etching
supplies. A 12" x 15’ roll is under $40 USD. Depending on your needs
I like the suggestion from Vera to purchase small quantities through
Enamelwork Supply in Washington. Orchid Rules… Karla from
sunny So Cal.

Please tell me more about this process.


If you search the Ganoksin archives you will find a few discussions.
The problem is we keep spelling it differently: Image On, Imagon,
Imag-on. So try them all.

Here is an edited version of a previous description I had made:

I use a Samsung ML-2510 B&W laser printer ($100) to print the image
on overhead transparency material which becomes the “film” to expose
to the Imag-on “resist”. I use the ultra-violet light produced by a
household CFL fluorescent bulb (250-watt equivalent) to expose the
resist sandwiched with the film.

P&P is adhered by heat; always some degree of problem arises. To
adhere the Imag-on you use a squeegee and water. After exposure you
put the piece in a developer of washing soda and water.

The plastic resist that adheres to the metal is stronger than P&P
(lasts longer in the etching solution) and retains finer detail.

Results are the same every time.

Imag-on was developed for the print-making field, so most places
that carry it give instructions for exposing large sheets (for making
larger prints) and they need more complicated vacuum frames and
expensive light sources.

It can seem very overwhelming if that is all you read.

Coral Schaffer at translated the process to the
smaller size and simpler procedures that I have been using for
jewelry size pieces of metal and her detailed instructions make the
product very easy to use. She sells a small piece and sends along the
modified instructions.