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Thursday, 15 March 2012

Etching Filigree

As you know, I tried out etching the other week. I was pleased with the result and found it surprisingly easy so, of course, I decided to dive right in and try something a lot more challenging.

I decided I wanted to have a go at etching right the way through the piece of metal and, not being satisfied with a simple cutout shape, decided to start with an attempt at making filigree. Me being me I also did not bother to do any research beforehand!

Preparing the resist
I didn't bother cutting out a template this time. Instead I started by painting both sides of my copper squares completely with white acrylic. I then drew my design onto the paint on one side using a sharpie (green to contrast nicely with the copper).
Finally I used a needle file to scratch away the paint from the rest of the copper square, the parts that were going to be etched away.

After etching
Some idea of how long to leave the pieces in for might have helped but all I had to go on was the single attempt I'd made at etching before. I kept checking the pieces of hour or so and eventually decided to take them out when they looked like this (after about half a day)

At this stage I was surprisingly pleased with the results. You can see the white paint that was on the back of the piece in almost all the gaps and the green parts seem to be intact.

After removing the resist
Unfortunately appearances can be deceptive and it turned out that I had actually left the pieces in for too long. Judging by how well they turned out it looks like they were only in a tiny bit too long but it was enough. The fine lines of copper I had ambitiously planned were too thin and just fell apart in lots of places when I started cleaning off the paint. Turned out the paint had been keeping the whole thing together!

I didn't let that stop me, though. The very next day I started another etching project, taking on board what I learnt from these mistakes. I made sure my copper lines were much thicker this time so there would be more leeway on how long I could leave them in the etching bath. The result is a much chunkier feel and I'm not sure if it deserves to be called filigree anymore but I quite like it. I know just the home for these geometric shapes and I'll share it with you soon!
A more successful attempt


  1. That's pretty amazing. It's pretty neat the see the whole process. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Thanks! I was pretty intrigued by the process when I first started looking into it, too!

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