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Working with anodised aluminium


#1

Hello. I’m a new member and have been scouring the internet for help
but there doesn’t seem to be anything really. I love anodised
aluminium jewellery, I have bought a big pack of per anodized 0.8mm
and the dyes but can’t find anything to help with the basics. I have
"surface decoration" and “the jewellery encyclopedia” by Jinks
Mcgrath but they don’t cover working aluminium. Can anyone please
point me in the direction of any info, I just want to know the basics
like do I need to anneal alu and how, how to I etch aluminium, how to
form bracelets etc, i’d also would love to learn heat transfer
printing. I’m just lost and there are no books I can find to help.
Jane adams has decided not to write her book and linsdey mann said it
will be 2010 before hers is released on anodised aluminium.

I’d be incredibly grateful for any help.

Lou Davies


#2

You are both in the UK --take a workshop first:
http://www.lindseymann.co.uk/lindsey.html

jesse


#3

Try Googling Anodizing Aluminium. I found several hits, here are 2…

http://astro.neutral.org/anodise.shtml
http://www.creative-chemistry.org.uk/activities/anodising.htm

Regards, Gary Wooding


#4

If you can find a copy:

Artists Annodizing Aluminum by David LaPlantz is exactly what you
are looking for.

Elaine
http://www.CreativeTextureTools.com


#5

the folks at Reactive Metals are quite knowledgeable. I would start
there for books and instruction. I found that learning to use a
rectifier and making samples of your own experimentation with
temperatures and voltages are very useful to get the same results
over and over. Annealing aluminum is not easy without a kiln because
it tends to melt rapidly. Buying it dead soft and calculating the
fabrication steps is prudent if you can’t afford a kiln, but even
when putting it through a corrugator for instance, it retains much
malleability. As for “dyes”, they will come off in normal wear- I’m
not certain where you got that as a rectifier is the way
to go for colour permanence. Forming it is as easy as bending it
round a wooden bat sawed in pieces ( thirds) to make 3 mandrels of
usable form and in 3 shapes, oval, round, and the knob end as a
doming “stake” of sorts and tapered to make child sized bracelets.
Tim McCreight’s “Complete Metalsmith” is widely available at many
libraries and online sources and touches on rectifier use and
anodising; all in-all for any jewelry making and metal smithing it
is THE place to start in becoming self-taught. Elizabeth Olver also
has a book, that touches on Al surface embellishment and patinas. the
www link to astro.neutral.org/anodise.shtml has good on
the home process of aluminum anodising But back to Reactive Metals
and their expertise. I believe you’ll find all the info and supplies
you need there. I use it so little that the rectifier set-up in
McCreight’s book has served my purposes well for adding a bit of
colour and combining precious and non-precious metals in designing.


#6

RER,

I use it so little that the rectifier set-up in McCreight's book
has served my purposes well for adding a bit of colour and
combining precious and non-precious metals in designing. 

Are you using that little rectifier for anodizing aluminum? Your
description has me wondering if you’re confusing aluminum anodization
with the reactive metals of titanium, niobium, and tantalum.

Dyes used with anodized aluminum are as permanent as any surface
coating could be because it penetrates the anodic layer and is then
sealed in by subsequent sealing actions like boiling salt water
baths. Yes, it can come off with normal wear, but only after you’ve
worn through that aluminum oxide anodic layer. It’s about the same as
the durability of an anodic color on titanium or niobium. Pretty
good. Please note that the dyes are not intended to color just plain
aluminum. They’re intended to color aluminum that has been anodized,
but not yet sealed. That leaves a porous aluminum oxide surface that
takes dyes very easily. In that condition, it’s not yet got any
color. And yes, you can buy sheet aluminum that has been
pre-anodized, ready for sealing, but not yet sealed. It’s somewhat
fragile in this state, as the porous surface is more easily damaged
than after it’s sealed. After sealing, that porous surface closes up
again, trapping the dyes in the surface, not just on it.

For the OP, the best book I’ve seen on the whole subject is David
LaPlantz’s book, “Artists anodizing aluminum”. I have this suspicion
that it’s no longer in print. but I might be wrong, and you might
always find an old copy somewhere still. I think, if memory serves,
that it was McCreights “Brynmorgan press” that published the thing.
If not, perhaps someone else can correct that…

Oh, and the company I used to get such materials from was East West
Dye Com. So far as I know, at least a couple years ago they were
still in business, and I expect they’re still around…

Peter Rowe


#7

Peter I guess I didn’t write it clearly:

what I meant was dyes alone wont stick without anodising the Al
first! I envisioned the questioner trying to get the dyes to
penetrate and stick to a sheet of Aluminum…rer


#8
what I meant was dyes alone wont stick without anodising the Al
first! I envisioned the questioner trying to get the dyes to
penetrate and stick to a sheet of Aluminum..rer 

You are certainly right there, though there are some permanent magic
marker types that do a half passable job on surfaces that don’t need
much durability, or which can be sealed somehow afterwards. (those
same markers work very well on anodized metal, where the ink then
gets sealed in just like traditional anodizing dyes.)

And for those who don’t have the means to anodize their own sheet,
you can buy already anodized, but not yet sealed, aluminum sheet from
east west dye com, I think. then all you need to do is boil it after
coloring it in sealing salts.

cheers
Peter


#9

Thankyou for all the replies, i’m still figuring how to use ths forum
so hope this message does actaually appear, I have ordered a few more
books incl the tim mccreight one. I have pre anodised sheet (and
professional dyes), I wont bother anodising myself I just want to
focus on colouring, texturing and forming, it was just that may other
books show you how to do granulation, etching and so on but never
mention if they can be used on alu or how so that’s my main focus
what actual general silversmith techniques can be applied to dyed alu
without turing into a big mess. I’ve had a look at the lins etc
mentioned so thankyou and I have had a lot of guidance of Jesse so
big, big thankyou there. If anyone can answer with effective
techniques I could use on my dyed alu I would be very grateful.

Lou


#10
As for "dyes", they will come off in normal wear- I'm not certain
where you got that as a rectifier is the way to go for
colour permanence. 

Hmmm, at least one of us is confused.

I deal with Reactive Metals Studio (and with reactive metals) quite
a bit, and while it would not surprise me if Bill Seeley knows all
there is to know about anodizing aluminum, I don’t believe it is
touched on in his catalog.

Anodizing aluminum, as I understand it (I haven’t done it) involves
running current through the aluminum, which somehow makes the
surface receptive to dye. It can wear off, but it is quite durable
(remember those lovely tumblers from the 50’s? I’m always tempted to
buy them in “antique” malls-- they remind me of summer in Florida
and iced tea).

Titanium and niobium, on the other hand, turn colors in response to
voltage, without benefit of dye. The science of it is touched on in
my article in the last Art Jewelry. There is no actual pigment
present at all. This, too, can wear off, as it is a thin surface
oxide.

Aluminum can accept any color, in any order. Reactive metals have
their own agenda and one must accept their limitations. Anodized
niobium, though, will change color when bent, which can yield some
pretty cool results.

Anyway, coloring aluminum is a subject that I don’t recall ever
seeing before on Orchid.

Noel


#11
so that's my main focus what actual general silversmith techniques
can be applied to dyed alu without turing into a big mess. 

I think you want to know what you can do with the metal itself. Cold
connections is the first answer that comes to mind. This would
include riveting, stapling, and tabing to mention a few. It’s
difficult to solder aluminum and how and I suspect that heat would
change the colors but don’t really know. I do know that aluminum can
be forged but don’t know if it would damage a colored surface.

marilyn


#12

G’day; When aluminium is anodized it means that it is placed in a
slightly acid solution; a solution of alum (Potassium aluminium
sulphate) or sodium bisulphate, or even dilute sulphuric acid will
do. It is the opposite of metal plating in that the aluminium is made
the anode of a fairly low voltage (10 - 30volts) electrical DC
circuit so that oxygen is given off at the aluminium. This form of
oxygen is partly O and partly O2 and is very reactive, joining with
the aluminium to form a very fine coating of aluminium oxide (Al2O3)
on the surface of the metal where it adheres strongly. This form of
alumina will absorb almost any of the colourful aniline dyes, used
in home dyeing but understand that it is merely absorption; not a
true reaction but similar to dying fabric. It does wear off in time,
but it takes quite a time. Just look at any coloured aluminium ware
you have in the kitchen to see that. Really the process is open to
experimentation, including the use of resists to dye the coating in
various places, perhaps different colours. Tim Mc Creight has a bit
to say about the process in his book.

Cheers for now,
JohnB of NZ


#13

The aluminium has to be freshly anodised - when I use it I order it
to be anodised on both sides and then keep it in a sealed pack until
I actually dye it. The anodising process makes the surface porous (a
few microns deep) so that while it is fresh the coloured dyes can be
absorbed into the surface. This ability to absord dye reduces over
time as it absorbs moisture from the air - and from fingers so you
would need to handle the surface as little as possible before dying.
I dye pieces in pans of hot dye on my cooker. When you have the
colour you want then you can either heat it or steam it to fix - it
needs to be just below the simmer if you are doing this in water on
the stove.

Once dyed I clean off any resist I have used in the patterning
process and dry and store the sheets until I am ready to use it. I
usually texture it using my rolling mill. You will need to avoid
using heat as even quite low temperatures can affect the colour.

I believe that Lark Books are in the process of planning a book on
dyed anodised aluminium jewellery.

Hope this helps, Lynne


www.guildofenamellers.org