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Etching metals beyond silver

Hi, Orchidians!

Does anyone have any experience etching metals beyond silver,
copper, brass, etc. Specifically, I would like to experiment with
etching 14K Palladium White Gold, and 14K Yellow Gold.

What would be the recommended mordant? Resist? Thanks in advance for
all your wisdom!


Hi Ginger,

When I was in college we did some etching on brass and copper using a
permanent magic marker as the resist and radio shack’s etching
solution for etching computer boards. The longer you left if the
deeper the etch. Also, we did original designs on the computer and
than printed them on t -shirt transfer paper and ironed it on our
metal. Than we used ferric acid (do this with a mask and in well
ventilated room or outside). I was suprised at the detail I got. I
used either sterling or fine silver for this. Really can’t remember.

Hope this helps,
Linda Reboh

I have a job if someone wants to do it. Replacement earring, 1 1/4
inch diameter round brass disc with etched design. Customer will pay
well. Contact offline please and I can e-mail picture of existing

Richard Hart


I would like to do this. I am just starting out with my business,
but I have much experience with etching. You can see my work heRe: If you haven’t found someone to do this yet, please
email me the picture of the existing earring. Can you please tell me
what gage the metal is and what the customer is expecting to pay for

Jessi Frenkel

Richard, normally I would do this, probably no prob. But I’ve got a
real problem with getting in and out of our place right now. Been
snowed in since Dec. 1. Well except for one day when the rotary
snowblower came through and opened up our road. It was supposed to
be good weather, no snow for several days, beautiful clear blue
skies, no wind. We came back in a full scale blizzard; husband had to
walk home, get my heavy gear and the snowmobile. Got off the track a
bit even with the compass and took us 1/2 hour to get back on track.
Not going out again until the snow is gone. But, if you don’t get
anybody else, contact Donna Wilson or Linda Woods offline. Both work
with ferric chloride.

Katherine Palochak

I etch copper, brass, and nickel silver on a regular basis.

Fry’s has a gallon of circuit board etching chemical for $19.00.
This will last quite a while. Use rubber gloves, it stains.

The etching can be speeded up if its placed on a heating pad or hot
plate on warm. Key Word: WARM! Some of the resists will dissolve
under heat, so test first.

Some people use a fish tank air supply to bubble up and around the
metal while etching, keeps the chemical fresh on the metal and keeps
the chemical in motion. You can get an air supply for about $7 and a
bubbler fitting for the end of the hose for about $3. It also helps
remove the metal that is etched off.

I etch in a large pyrex bowl, put chop-sticks in the bottom to let
the chemical move around, and put the strips of metal on the
chop-sticks. Sometimes, if doing several at a time, I make a rack
and put the bracelets in vertical, long side up, and a bubbler under
the rack.

I buy all three metals in 6 inch x 36 inch strips, and cut off 1=BD
x 6 inch strips for bracelets.

Stamp the back with your logo, then cover the back of the bracelets
with clear packing taps so it doesn’t get etched.

Shape the ends to make them round or tapered.

For patterns, I go to Hobby Lobby or Michaels and buy rubber stamps,
stamp pads, and patterns for clay with random patterns. Buy some
rubber cement, some thinner, and a roller.

You can use:

  1. Permanent magic markers. Draw pictures and write love words,
    draws hearts…

  2. Rubber stamp ink

  3. Dribble on rubber cement in lines and swirls

  4. Use a fork or toothpick to mess up the rubber cement.

  5. Screen printing ink or silk screen patterns on the metal. I make
    silk screens of patterns that really sell.

  6. Thin rubber cement, put it on a sheet of glass, use the roller to
    even it out and stamp it with the rubber stamp then stamp the metal
    leaving a rubber cement pattern. This will not come off under heat
    and will allow the deepest etching.

  7. There is some release paper that you can copy to on a copier,
    then iron on the metal, but I have tired this to the tune of about
    $30 with no success. Some users swear by this, and get great
    details. I’d love to learn the secret if you have one. I have access
    to every copier made here at work, can get the image on the paper,
    but it never irons on correctly.

After its etched, clean it with soap and water, buff the top, shape
it and sell it. I sell mine for $35.

For a really nice effect on copper, dampen it, sprinkle it with
salt, put it in a sealed freezer bag with a shot of ammonia in a
cup. In 4-12 hours, it will have formed a green-blue patina. Buff
off the top, shine it, form it, coat it with lacquer and sell it.

For another nice effect on copper, heat it before you buff the top,
red hot then dashed in water will leave a nice Red Oxide pattern.

I have the formulas for several other patinas for copper and brass
if anyone needs them.

Love and God Bless