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Etching on curved surface

I’m interested to find out how folk etch curved surfaces. I’ve so far
only etched flat surfaces, using PNP blue on sterling silver with
ferric nitrate. I’ve been successful so far, but flat surfaces get a
little uninteresting after a while. I’d like to be able to etch round
or D section wire for ring shanks. I appreciate that you can’t use
something like PNP blue on the formed ring shank, as it will be
curved in two axes, but will PNP sheet iron onto the wire, around
it’s curve, while it’s still straight, and then bend it into it’s
ring shape afterwards? I guess I could try it myself, and risk
wasting some shank material, but thought if others are doing this
successfully, then it is worth asking.

I don’t want to go down the Sharpie or nail varnish route, as
there’s not enough detail.

Many thanks in advance.


Ring shanks are not very large surfaces; why not just draw your
design by hand? People were etching metal long before photoengraving
was invented using just a resist and a scribe.


I cut sticky vinyl with my Cricuit Silhouette machine and stick it
on. Thenetch.

I use muratic acid / hydrogen peroxide mixture that is revived with
the air pump. Have been using the same solution for 2 years and
hundreds of pieces. Now and then I add a little more of each due to


hello Helen

haven’t seen you around in a while- seems like your skills are
growing extensively! Yipee…

Anyway- etching a ring shank, right? Why not just engrave it if it’s
a simple design. not much detail. otherwise, provided you aren’t into
the quite messy proposition of using asphaltum, or even gum arabic or
just a plain old titanium white watercolour block (my preference for
’not much detail’) (works well, less messy than asphaltum and far less
’toxic’ scented…) you could painstakingly cut out thin contact
paper or any adhesive/psa material. You could use a heat gun, or the
blower attachment/heat concentrator on a butane torch to get it to
adhere to the shank but, i like using gravers for small stuff. that
said, etching small stuff is a bit trickier than larger work because
of the tack iron. the tip (pointed end) is harder to get into tight
spaces so small cut-outs aren’t easy with any PSA material. there are
a couple of products out there that are an alternative to any above:
One, is called called “Masque Pen” once dried it works good enough
and has a needle thin applicator tip (just pre-warm the emulsion in
hot water to make it fluid enough for your purposes as if it’s
cold-ish in your studio the stuff may be too thick to extrude easily.
Then there’s another old favourite- Ulano brand’s Amber or Ruby lith
pens. much like a marker tip (chisel or point styles are available)
they put down a nice layer of stuff 9 intended for the screen
printing /printmaking industry originally).One pen will last perhaps
100 lightly detailed rings, cuff links, etc. it comes off easily with
methylated spirits.

Any of the Ulano products work great for etching various metals and
outperforms sharpies, nail enamel, PSA cut outs, etc. Just keep em
tightly capped when not in use. rer…good luck

Do you etch silver or copper with this? What is the ratio you use. I
mixture evaporates a lot. Always Looking for the ‘right’ size
container with tight lid.


Helen, I’m wondering if your question is how to etch on a curved
surface or rather how to apply a acid-resistant printed design (like
PnP) to a curved surface? Etching a curve isn’t problematic. I like
Lascaux’s acrylic hard resist and white coating which should be
available in the UK from a printmaking supply house. Etching with a
stylus of your choice allows a great deal of detail, but you do have
to draw your design. As for applying PnP, I don’t know if another
brand would make it any easier or not. I’ve had better luck
transferring Fab-in-A-Box brand, but I’ve not done it on a ring. Any
of the toner transfer systems will require you to heat the metal to
150 degrees C so the toner melts. Have you tried Image-on or PurEtch
(from Cape Fear Press) film? At least with those you wouldn’t have
the heat factor to work around. M. Whittle

Hi Mary,

Thanks for your response. I had to go looking for responses as I’m
not receiving any emails for some reason. I’ll check the archives in
the morning to see if anyone else has answered previously. Thank you
for your suggestions. Your preferred choice looks to be interesting.



I etch sterling silver with ferric nitrate. Ferric chloride is
usually used for copper (or Edinburgh etch, which is ferric chloride
mixed citric acid in a 4:1 ratio). I can’t recall how much ferric
nitrate I mix into solution withwater, but I have it written down
somewhere in the depths of my jewellery bench.


Brilliant, thanks RER! I’ve had a bit of a hiatus from jewellery,
but I’m now getting back into it and thoroughly enjoying it again. I
also have granddaughter duties to fit in, plus cello and violin
lessons, practice and orchestra rehearsals, so no longer have as
much time unfortunately.

The Ulano products look interesting. I’ll see if I can hunt them
down in theUK.

I hope you are well.