Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Photoetching using the Photocopy Transfer

   Warning, this is a long email.  Good luck and let me know
if you     have specific problems.  I teach Photoetching

Very informative, especially to someone who knows absolutely
nothing about the subject. Would you be so kind as to reference
a website or book that would show the photoetching techniques as
finished pieces? Many thanks, Terri

Many years before I became involved in jewelry and lapidary I
used to tinker with electronics, I still get a few catalogs and
found this in the All Electronics corp. catalog tools section:
“Make PC boards in Minutes with photocopier or Laser Printer” The
product is Press-N-Peel transfer film to be IRONED ON (sounds
familier) after copying the design. They offer 5 sheets for $12.
Also dry ferric chloride 1/4 pound (enough for a pint of
solution) for $4. They also have a good price on some (limited
selection) hand tools like dental picks and needle files. This is
a surplus company and the items they have on hand vary
tremendously. Ph. (800) 826-5432 No connection etc. (there are
other companies like them with a wide variety of interesting
stuff, search surplus electronics on the web)

Ben’s Gems
Fredonia NY

There is a product on the market called PnP Blue which is very
popular and works very well. Broken Images sells this 5 sheets
for $16 and I have seen it as low as $12. The IBM 2500 photocopy
transfer film is 100 sheets for $45 for the large box or 25
sheets for $10. It depends on the quality of your photocopier,
but laser output from a printer the best. I wasted a lot of
money trying to get one image out, only because the photocopier I
was using was not very good.

“You can judge your age by the amount of pain you feel when you come in
contact with a new idea”

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once
he grows up.”
–Pablo Picasso

Karen Christians
Fly Fish Design
282 Lexington Street
Woburn, MA 01801


Another source for very similar material is:

The Meadowlake Corp
PO Box 1555
Oneco, Florida, 34264

They are 5 sheets=$4.95
10 sheets=$6.95
50 sheets=$30.00
100 sheets=$55.00 seen this stuff used and it is pretty good, iron-on
material. From them it is called Tek-200. It is intended for
printed circuits buts works well for jewelery purposes. You can
use a computer laser printer or a copy machine to use it-the
toner drops off onto the object and gets ironed or heated in
place. To work by placing it onto a smooth sheet of steel on a
hot plate is easiest. IT comes with a 3 page set of
instructions. Additional notes and hints (from Robb Mitchell-a
student of mine) include:

  • 40 dpi is best

  • put toner on the matt side of the sheet.

  • To use text copy on acetate, place acetate in copy machine
    then copy onto the Tek-200.

  • prepare the metal well, 400 wet/dry paper, it should be grease
    free and oxide free, you can try running water over it to see if
    it sheets evenly or breaks (grease spot there).

  • The transfer temp is 268-295 degrees, can just still touch a
    hot plate at this temp.

  • to remove the toner after etching try lacquer thinner-

  • Steps to attach:

    1. tack corners and edges with a burnisher first.

    2. burnish the toner off the paper onto the metal.

    3. If you are too hot the image will spread

    4. fo over everything and burnish on the cold plate (after

    5. after taking off the plastic paper: Replace the metal
      onto the hot polate to post-bake and set the toner more
      securely for about 2 minutes.

There are also even easier films available for printmakers where
the solvent is plain water. Let you all know when I find out
more. Charles

Brain Press
Box 1624, Ste M, Calgary, Alberta, T2P 2L7, Canada
Tel: 403-263-3955 Fax: 403-283-9053 Email: @Charles_Lewton-Brain

Metals info download web site:
Product descriptions:
Links list hosted at the Metal Web News:

Karen: there is an even better way to do this. I don't have a
source in front of me but if you have a laser printer there are
sheets made for laser printing to make your own printed circuit
boards. This gives exact precise small detail transfer using an
iron onto copper. I have also used this stuff on silver for
nittric acid etch and it works pretty darn well there too. Though
in nitric after a long etch the detail starts to break down but
for textural effects its great. Again the secret is clean metal.
I use acetone and scotchbrite steel wool substitute. Dave

Please, find me the source! The more I can gather
the better. Thanks. BTW, Zacryl works in nitric too. No more

Art is an absolute mistress; she will not be coquetted with or slighted;
she requires the most entire self-devotion, and she repays with grand

Karen Christians

Fly Fish Design
282 Lexington Street
Woburn, MA 01801


Dave! Have you been keeping this little secret to yourself??
:wink: I heard someone else mention this earlier in the thread, but
you’re the first one who has indicated anything will hold up to
nitric acid for etching silver! You naughty boy, for not
clueing me in earlier! Only kidding, of course, thanks for the


Dave Sebaste
Sebaste Studio
Charlotte, NC (USA)

Hi Karen,

Thanks for sharing your hard-won experience with us! You
mention the use of Zacryl’s resist… and it seems your
experience is with copper/brass and a ferric chloride mordant.
Have you ever tried this resist with sterling silver and a
nitric acid mordant? I’m curious how well it would hold up.

I’m working on some designs for etching on sterling, and someone
please correct me if I’m wrong, ferric chloride doesn’t work
effectively with sterling?

Any insight appreciated, as usual! :slight_smile:


Dave Sebaste
Sebaste Studio
Charlotte, NC (USA)

Hi I’ve been following the discussion on Photo etching. Please
explain the rest of the process? I understand a little now about
applying the design to metal …now the rest of the story?
Something about Acid I believe. My son and I are on an adventure
to create some pendants with teenagers in mind .


Dave- I just etched some designs onto 16 gauge copper and then
embossed them onto annealed 24 gauge sterling using rolling mill
with very little pressure. It came out beautifully, without the
need for nitric acid. Of course, I had to do a little planning
as to which was up and which was down…It gave a softer look
than etching directly on the silver, and I think I can use the
copper plates again.



I have done a lot of P-n-P blue photoetching, but on 22 ga.
copper then mill rolled onto 20, 22, 24 ga. dead soft sterling;
found that you can get at least 3-4 good, deep impressions. The
key is to not crank the mill down to the point that you distort
your copper master.


      I just etched some designs onto 16 gauge copper and then
embossed them onto annealed 24 gauge sterling using rolling
mill with very little pressure.  It came out beautifully,
without the need for nitric acid.

How did you etch the 16 gauge copper? Also, I have 74% nitric
acid in a bottle and want to make a etching solution (to etch
silver or copper. What would the ratio of acid to water (knowing
of course that you always pour acid into water not water into
acid)to make a solution for etching? Making an embossed copper
plate first is a great idea!! Very creative thinking!! Thanks you
for suggesting it. Delores

I haven’t kept up on my e-mail for a few days, so others may
have already answered the question on the copper etching. If so,
forgive the duplication. I used the ferric chloride solution,
straight from the bottle sold at Radio Shack. It will not work on
silver, but I think it will dissolve silver solder, so if you
plan on doing any soldering, do it after you’ve etched. After
etching the copper to the required depth, (accelerated by heat
and vibration or air bubbles) rinse, and then brush with ammonia,
which will stop the etching process. Rinse again.

I have not used nitric acid. I just found out about using
ferric nitrate for etching silver, but I haven’t tried it yet.
If anyone has further info, why not post it here!