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Transfering images to sheet metal surface?

Get a block of titanium /Chinese white watercolour and brush it on
your metal evenly. Then take a scribe (i like using a diamond tipped
one, you can buy one from most vendors, or make your own using a
diamond you have taken out of a repair piece or have lying around and
"set it", table side down so the pavillion is up- in the end of a
mechanical pencil as you would a tube setting or use a wooden dowel
you have drilled to accept it without much need for fillers,(like
rocktite or ‘man in a can’ cement) and cement it in place, - use
anything for the stem that is comfortable in your hand and can take a
bit of pressure) and a sized image you want to transfer and trace
over the appropriate side of the image into the watercolour. It’s far
easier to saw than trying to get a lubricated blade through a gum-
which is what you have once the rubber cement cures on the work.
sharpies, markers, etc. smear too much for me. A graphite pencil
seems to last longer than marker ink- though a good quality india
ink that has some gum arabic in it lasts a little longer, the
application though can get messy if you don’t have a good pen - like
a koh-i-noor with a suction fill mechanism. Not everyone has one so
the watercolour method is a tried and true way to get a lasting image
inexpensively scribed on to the work. there are a bunch of chemical
transfer solutions on the market that make a decal, or just using
alcohol on a laser image will transfer it to metal, but with the
watercolour block you are always guaranteed to get the same
consistent result first time out. rer

Here is a simple solution if you are trying to adhere your dwgs to
metal for sawing or possibly as a guide for engraving. Print your
designs on adhesive labels. You can purchase 8-1/2 x 11 mailing
label sheets (the whole sheet is one large label) Cut & paste your
designs onto a word document (or some other format) and print them
out on the label. Then you can cut around them, & they will stick
to the metal while you saw or engrave. I found it in one of Tim
McCreight's books & do it quite often - it's a life saver. 

I did something similar for making collets.

I could have drafted it out by and could have made a template that
way, but I have a computer and it only took a couple of minutes using
a paper folding program to make a perfect template that was
re-sizable and able to be printed onto mailing labels.

I printed out a sheet of these can gave them to a teacher.

There are a lot of fancy things you can do too, you can mark design
cut outs to be printed on the template, It much easier to cut a
complex shape out of a flat piece of metal as opposed to cutting a
complex shape out of a tightly curved piece of metal (imo).

Regards Charles A.

I use Mod Podge. Apply it on the metal, press on the paper design
and let it dry. I then apply a thin coat on top. This helps seal the
paper so it does not lift when sawing as paper does with rubber

Kimberly Conrad

I have not been reading everything in this thread, however has
anyone mentioned graphic arts etching in magnesium? Send them a print
of your image, and a few days later receive a model, trim the edges
and make a mold.

Usually less than $10 in cost and you are ready to cast your item.
Two dimensional, but exact reproduction of whatever you send them.

Jon Michael Fuja

Thanks everyone for all the ideas to try!

I use DUCO cement to glue my patterns, stipple throught the paper
with the gravermax, steam the paper off (or even peel it off with a
fingernail) and the engrave the stippling…

Keith Hible


Would you be willing to share your source?

Thank you,


Dear Reba and all,

Of course, I use a small graphic arts business called Owosso Graphic
Arts in Owosso, MI, but I am sure any graphic arts business does the
same work.

They basically take whatever design you send them, take a photo of
the image, and etch the image into magnesium and send that model to
me. I trim the edges, make a rubber mold, and cast the wax directly.
Most of their business comes from the printing industry, so you must
remember to instruct them you want the image to be “right reading”.
You can dictate any size you wish, go larger or smaller. I normally
request 16 gage magnesium, but they offer it up to one quarter inch
in thickness, and models etched in copper as well. I would call them
and request a copy of their order form which lays out all your
options. Most models cost less than $10. You are only limited by your
own imagination. I have etched old historic buildings and sold them
to customers. I have printed designs and laid out a flat outline for
a ring. Shoot a wax, roll the wax into a circle, and you have an
intricate, patterned, custom wedding band. It’s a fun and easy tool.

Call them at 800-444-5552


I use a small graphic arts business called Owosso Graphic Arts in
Owosso, MI, but I am sure any graphic arts business does the same

I doubt that very many graphics arts businesses actually DO that
work, though they may refer it elsewhere. There is, or was, aplace
down the peninsula here in SF that does or did that, too. I’m at
home and can’t look up the name, which I forget. Those people are
catering to the old-school print industry,where they etch a photo
for linotype printing, or similar. I used them quite a bit over the
years, too. Not for a while now, though. Look for photoetching or
photoengraving. I’d guess that most major cities have someone
somewhere doing it.

Back to Carol Webb. She teaches photo etching and her work is