Pictures acid-etched onto silver

I’m interested in having some pictures acid-etched onto silver. I
know there’s a way to do this using an inkjet printer or something,
but given the state of my ventilation, I’d prefer to outsource the
project. I’m in New York, but could obviously send it anywhere. Does
anyone know of a place that provides this service?

Thanks very much, Hilary

Hi Hilary,

Don’t fret. With the correct supplies this is a dead easy thing for
you to do all by yourself.

You need the following supplies:

  1. Press-N-Peel transparency paper.
  2. Access to a laser (not bubblejet!) printer.
  3. Ferric Nitrate, either as solution or crystals.

Ferric Nitrate is an etchant for silver, far safer than nitric acid
for etching. It will not dissolve your fingers should you touch it
accidentally, and ventilation will not be required.

This is silver’s answer to an extremely common procedure for making
electronic printed circuit boards, except the substrate there is
copper and the etchant is Ferric Chloride.

However, you would not want to drink the stuff or let your pets or
children get to it. Be sure to reuse spent solution as much as you
can. Do not flush the solution down toilet, instead keep in a sealed
jar and allow it to evaporate.

You’ll have to find a chemical supply house on the internet which
will mail to a residence rather than a business, I forgot where I got
mine from, but other people on Orchid can tell you.

Load your laser printer with the Press-N-Peel sheet, then reduce your
image to monochrome and print it. Apply the sheet to your silver per
Press-N-Peel instructions.

The dark images on the sheet will resist the etchant, the bright
areas will be eaten away by it. You may need to reverse the image to
therefore get the image you desire.

Time for etching is approximately 30 minute to 2 hours, depending on
the desired depth and the size of the plaque you are etching. Warming
the solution slightly may provide faster results.

Have fun,
Andrew Jonathan Fine