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Etched copper earrings- how they’re made

November 28, 2017

I’ve had a lot of fun the past couple weeks making some copper earrrings. For the silver version, I start by cutting the shapes out of sheet metal but in this case I actually started with etching. Ferric chloride etched copper, and is readily available at electronic supply stores. 


I made my designs in Illustrator and printed it out on Press n Peel paper to apply to the copper sheet. The entire sheet was then etched before cutting out individual shapes. 


After cutting and some quick sanding, each piece was domed for strength before silver ear wires were soldered on. 


Patina is next: copper will oxidize quickly on its own, so to prevent jewelry from changing after its purchased I oxidize it intentionally. This also gives the texture from etching a big pop. 


Liver of sulfur is my preferred chemical- it smells like rotten eggs, but works beautifully. One small piece is dissolved in hot water, and the copper pieces are put in the solution.  They immediately blacken (bottom left). I buff them with a brass brush (bottom middle) before lightly sanding the high points of the etched design (bottom right). 


Before and after oxidization: 

The last step is just to sand the oxidation off the ear wires with 600 grit paper. It’s not necessary, but I like to see the silver color, and it will wear off the wires after a few wears. 


These earrings are all finished and ready to buy on my Etsy shop now!  

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