Often when people look at any of my butterfly line, whether it be the Resting Butterflies or the Bohemian Butterflies, they comment/question that I used a stamp to create them. Then I begin to explain the process and how so much more work went into making these cute little beauties.
I etch all the butterfly components that I use in my jewelry. When I etch, I etch all day long! Sometimes for 2 or 3 days at a time.
Etching all starts with printing whatever design I want to make on blue PNP paper. This paper is generally used for printing circuit boards for computers. The black laser printer ink will adhere to the metal once heated and creates a resist against the etching mordant.
After I have printed my design, I lay it on the metal and use a tiny piece of blue painters tape to hold it to the metal. I then use a T-shirt heat pressor to press and heat the design onto the metal. It has to be heated for the right amount of time with the right pressure at the right heat. I have done so many of these that I know from trial and error where my machine and metal works best. I can lay about 4 cuffs on the platform at a time.
Once done I let the pieces cool until cold. Then I gently peel off the blue paper. What is left is where the black ink was. If there are small spots that did not adhere properly leaving blank spots in the design, I use a fine point sharpie to fill those in.
Now I must apply clear packing tape to the back of each piece of metal so that the etching mordant does not etch the back. I have to make sure it is pressed firmly to the back and then I trim off the excess with a sharp blade.
Once tape is on the back I wrap the same tape backwards around foam. This leaves the sticky part out so that I can stick the metal to the foam so that it will float in the etching mordant.
Now it is time to float the metal in the etching mordant which is ferric chloride. I use a long glass dish so I can float several at a time. It is on the rack where my tumbler is so that I can run the tumbler which will vibrate the etching mordant and keep the particles floating to the bottom. I let them etch for approximately 1.5 hours. I can reuse the mordant several times but each time it takes a little longer to etch the pieces.
Once out of the mordant I rinse thoroughly. The first picture is what the butterflies look like after etching. They have a slight patina because after rinsing I let them set for awhile.
Once I have rinsed them I then apply a patina. I do not remove the PNP resist until much later in the process. I also remove the packing tape from the back at this time.
The picture above is both a sheet of individual butterflies and several cuffs.
For the cuffs, my next step will be to file the corners and form into a cuff shape. For the individual butterflies I will saw each one out by hand.
Once they are sawed out I use a sanding disc to refine the edges. In the picture some are bent and some are not. And all that has to be done before they can even be made into a beautiful piece of jewelry!
These little lovelies have been polished and are ready to finish. The blue PNP resist is removed in the polishing and finishing process. By leaving it on until the end there is a high contract between the patina area and the resist area.
I just wanted to share this process with you so that you will know just how much is done to create your handmade one of a kind butterfly jewelry!
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