Etching with sharpie pen

This weekend I was in Lamar, CO visiting my artist friend. She had
come across a new method of Acid Etching using a Sharpie Pen and the
Ferric Chloride. It worked like a dream and was so simple:

We cleaned the copper sheet by scrubbing it - 3M or Bon Ami. Drew
our pattern directly onto the clean copper sheet with the Sharpie. It
was amazing how nice lines worked - my friend draws beautifully and
drew the images from a Petrified Coral and it was stunning.

For etching, prepare it by putting the heavy packing tape on the
bottom of the copper sheet and a long tape to hold it onto the sides
of the Ferric Chloride Acid bath dish. It was suspended in the bath
for an hour, agitated along the way and checked during that time.
When it was satisfactorily etched, we removed the sheet and put it in
a bath of 50/50 ammonia water to stop the etching for about 30
minutes. Then put it in a bath of Baking Soda before scrubbing it
with the 3M again.

This is so much more simple than getting the pics transferred to PNP
and transferring with the hot plate. Now I have too many sheets of
PNP!!! Part of these instructions are in a new book, but I can’t
tell you the author.

Safety First: recommend gloves, and doing it in a well ventilated

Rose Marie Christison

HI Rose,

Indeed Sharpie markers work great for etching. If you obtain a red
Staedler pen, you will increase your detail work for fine lines.
Asphaltum, while messy to remove, is a black liquid which you paint
on the metal. By scratching in lines, you can achieve a terrific
detailed intaglio etch which is they way print makers create their
etching plates.

Adhesive backed vinyl is another excellent option which could be as
simple as contact paper for your drawers.

PNP Blue or Overhead Transparency Film (which is what I use) does
give you the option to employ text and photos.

I’ve enclosed a complete protocol with pictures of the transfer etch

Good luck and send me a shout if you have questions.

Karen Christians

What type of 3m do you use, is it a sanding sheet, sponge pad? I’ve
used this method without the ammoniz and just the baking soda bath
but I would love to try your method.


Hi Linda

The type of 3M that we used for cleaning was the green Scotch Brite
Pad used at the kitchen sink.

Hope that helps. I do like those sponge pads, but didn’t use them,
but could have!

Rose Marie Christison

Karen, thanks. Great publication. I have done the Asphaltum…have it
ready to etch tomorrow, plus some of the Sharpie Drawings. I still
have a number of the PNP sheets with many transfers ready to go.
Think I will do all three!!!

Need to find some powdered Tragacanth to make Harold O’Connor’s
recipe for Granulation - will look for the red pen there.

I met you in Tucson at the Orchid Dinner a number of years ago after
your book on the Flexshaft had been published. Thanks for all your
input for the education of beginners, pros, and all in between who
have a huge desire to improve and perfect their goals.

Rose Marie Christison

Try using the industrial sharpie pens; they work better than the
regular ones. You can get them at any Office supply. You can also
use Staz On stamp pad with rubber stamps which also works well with
Ferric Chloride.

Roxan O’Brien

Thanks Roxan. I’ve used the sharpies a lot but have not tried the
stamps w/rubber stamp pad but shall do at the next opportunity.