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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Still Learning to Etch Silver

Not exactly sure where I left off, but here's my blog post on me trying to use nitric acid to etch silver.

Since then, I ordered ferric nitrate.  Today's experiments are the second time I'm using it, so let me wrack my brain and try to think what the first thing I etched with it was.

Oh yeah, these earrings.
But before you judge my etch too harshly let me tell you that the etching actually came out perfect.  That bubbly stuff you see at the top of the earring on the right... that was me unintentionally starting to reticulate the silver when I was trying to solder the bezel cup onto the domed disk.

So yeah, this is a pair I have to keep for myself.  Quel dommage, eh.

Anyway, I'm pretty sure I mixed that batch 1 part ferric nitrate to 3 parts distilled water.

When I make my video, I'll show you why I am not a fan of the agitator (maybe I can find other uses for it).

I'm okay with the method I'm falling into.

What I'll really benefit from is less "winging it" and more "actually keeping good notes".  Today is a perfect example of that... the winging it part and why it doesn't work.

The piece I needed to etch today was large... 7 inches across.  To accommodate that, I had to use a large glass dish.  To *fill* a large glass dish requires a lot of etchant.  And ferric nitrate isn't reusable, nor is is cheap.

So I decided to quickly think of a couple things I could prep and toss in there at the same time as my large project.

I settled on a couple of pieces of 20g silver for band rings.

I started to use the same one-to-three ratio as before, but in my miserly mentality, it looked like it was SO MUCH etchant.  So I added probably a third of the amount of ferric nitrate as I should have.

And much to no one's surprise, the etch was taking a long time.  :-)

After an hour, I added some more.  Then I took one of the pieces out after about 15 minutes in the stronger solution and decided it could be a test.

Here it is.  I like the design but the etch wasn't deep enough.  :-( 

I then added a whole lot more ferric nitrate (see, I need to measure next time so I can replicate any process that DOES work well).

I checked (and wiped) periodically and in another 20-40 mins, decided my remaining two pieces were ready.

Here's the other band ring.

The large piece was a personal custom order so I won't how it here for privacy reasons, but it came out great.

The aftermath of etching is mostly the part I hate.  Pouring the remaining ferric nitrate into a glass jar, and adding baking soda until it's no longer liquid.  I can't emphasize enough how slowly you need to pour that baking soda in to neutralize your acid.  Let's just say you will be reminded of those 4th grade volcano assignments.  Hmph!

So I'm starting a collection of ugly glass bottles under my work bench that need to go to hazardous waste soon.

Okay, I might have made it sound worse than it is, but etching copper is SO much easier in comparison.

Still, I like this.  I got a good deep etch on the second ring band.  I look forward to more silver etching soon. 

But first... someone's coming back from Rhode Island for three weeks so my attention might be elsewhere.  :-)

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