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Favorite tips - A Gem of an Idea: Etching


Greetings, Orchid-land! Here is my second article (column) for our
local metals guild, CMAG (Chicago Metal Arts Guild). In it, I share a
discovery of my own that might be of some use. --Noel

A Gem of an Idea: Etching 11/02

No=EBl Yovovich

I’d like to share some more technical tips with you, starting with
something I recently discovered on my own, and though I may not be
the only one to have done so, I haven’t seen it anywhere. So, are
you ready for a brand new addition to your etching arsenal?

A while ago, I prepared a piece of silver tubing to have a pattern
etched on it, and threw it into the mordant (nitric acid). When I
came back several minutes later, it was not etched. In fact, it was
black. Well, that mystery didn’t last long. I had thrown it in Black
Max=AE, not in mordant. Feeling sheepish, I replaced the solution, and
again, left it to etch. Came back=85 there was no change at all. To
make a long story short, heavy oxidation on silver appears to
resists etching.

Further experiments have shown that scratching through the black
layer to etch is very easy, and responds to even the most delicate
lines. It does, however, leave the background minutely pitted, in
what is actually an attractive, ancient-looking way. But if that’s
not what you’re looking for, a second layer of resist in the form of
paint marker, or even Sharpie pen, reinforces the first.

To me, the great thing about this is that, for example, the inside
of my piece of tubing didn’t get damaged when I etched the outside.
It’s quick, and there is essentially no resistance to scribing
through. Will it revolutionize etching? Not a chance. Just one more
string to your bow.

In that same vein, I’d like to add a couple more goodies that I’ve
stumbled across in experimenting.

If you have one of those tiny, frying-pan-shaped kilns (sold by Rio
as Ultralite=AE) that are used for granulation, it can be a godsend
for soldering large bezels. It keeps the backing evenly heated to
about soldering temperature, and you can just draw the solder around
with your torch.

Another bezel-soldering trick is to put your workpiece on a pair of
strips of metal, bent into “V” shapes, laid out with the points
facing each other. About 1/4" wide is good. Heat entirely from
underneath, aiming the torch under and down so that the heat bounces
off the brick. Use a larger flame than you would for direct heating.
This is even easier if your brick is in the middle of an annealing
pan or lazy susan so you can rotate it continuously. Now, here’s one
more important point: if the V’s are titanium, they literally can’t
solder onto your piece, they are not a heat sink (unlike a tripod
and screen), and you run zero chance of melting them. Most
important, soldering from below, you can’t melt your bezel. The
whole piece, maybe, but not just the bezel.

One more quickie, and I’ll let you go for now. If you use stamps for
any purpose, you’ll find it much easier to locate the image
correctly if the surface to be stamped is highly polished. The
reflection of the stamp is easy to see, and a great help in

Feel free to contact me with questions or comments! I’m at
@Noel_Yovovich, or through this newsletter.

 I had thrown it in Black  Max 

This sounds really interesting Noel - an accurate resist that is as
easy to apply as that would be great - but what’s “Black Max” - a
sulphidizer ?

Allan Heywood


Hi, Allen, Yes, Black Max is a brand of black patina for silver,
sold be Rio. It is my strong suspicion that any kind would work the
same, but I included the specific brand in case that turns out not to
be true. Bear in mind that the coverage is not perfect, one does get
pitting with the patinated surface alone. Glad you like the
new trick! Noel