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Tie clip: progress pics

January 2, 2018



Snoopy is soldered together, and looking cute. 



Next step is preparing to etch the text, which will  sit below snoopy. While I’m etching one piece, I’ll also prep and etch some brand new items along side them, so stayed tuned! 



Ready to etch! As frequently happens, there were a few voids in the transfer which were touched up with nail polish. Sharpie isn’t acid resistant enough, so I just grab a toothpick to apply the nail polish. It’s thicker and harder to be precise with, but patience helps, as do magnifying glasses. 


I noticed that this particular transfer paper (not blue pnp, but a different brand) leaves a pixilated pattern in the black areas. My concern is that there is going to be a subtle texture etched into the surface which the nail polish protected areas will lack. If that’s the case, I’ll need to re-etch or find a way to smooth the surface out. If I etch deeply enough, there will be space to sand the surface a bit, eliminating any texture discrepancies. I’ll be mixing up a fresh batch of ferric nitrate to etch this afternoon. 





Bummer. The texture did indeed etch, and it was too deep to sand out. I’m going to take another crack at etching using the transfer paper I have (I’d really rather just use blue PnP paper, but shipping will take too long to finish this project) by very carefully painting the entire surface with nail polish, right up to the edges of the letters. It’ll take a lot of focus and concentration, so the plan is to prep everything this morning before painting the background during the kiddo’s afternoon nap. If that doesn’t pan out (I may not have enough precision) I’ll switch to a different method- piercing he lettering out of sheet silver and soldering it onto a backing sheet. This uses more metal and is significantly more time consuming, but the results would be lovely and it’s more predictable than etching, so it’s a great back up plan. More to come later. 



I’ve got this text prepped again, ready to etch. This time instead of nail polish, I used a thicker sharpie, which seems to be better than the fine tips I had used previously in terms of coverage. Since I don’t want to waste time and metal, I’m doing a quick test with a pair of earrings to see how well the sharpie covers. If it fails, that means I’ll spend the time to do nail polish very carefully. 



After half a day in the acid, I pulled out the test earrings: 

The sharpie alone wasn’t enough protection from the acid, so I took about an hour tonight to paint in the protected areas with nail polish. I used the regular brush to put down a dot of polish, and spread it along the edges of the text with a broken saw blade. 


After filling the entire background I went into each letter and touched up the edges by scraping excess polish away with a steel dental tool. I’m not concerned about the scratch marks the tool leaves since that area will be etched away shortly. 


Tomorrow, after the polish is fully set, I’ll cut the strip of silver out from the sheet and coat the edges and back in nail polish before getting it in the acid. 


After spending the better part of the day etching, the text is looking great! My work last night paid off, and the lettering is clear and true to the original font. The only touch-up necessary is on the Y and I, where it looks like a thin but effective layer of nail polish covered the lettering. It’s an easy adjustment though: I’ll repaint everything except those two areas tonight and let them etch tomorrow. After that’s done, I’ll move to filing and sanding the text block and soldering it onto the tie clip mechanism and snoopy. 


After round 2 of etching, the text is looking good. A round but was my tool of choice for a little touch-up on the interior edges of a few letters (mainly the Y, I and top horizontal bar of the E). Next, I used my favorite little metal ruler and carbid scribe to draw guide lines where I wanted the edges to me. I very carefully cut along that line to trim the plague down and then sanded that edge with 150, 220, 320, 400 and 800 grit sand paper. I also sanded the back to 320, and the front to 800. I love using sanding blocks made from scrap wood to provide an even, flat finish.  

I disassembled the tie clip mechanism prior to soldering: heating the steel spring causes it to loose its snappiness. The entire tie clip is now set up and ready to solder. I added a small oval sheet on the back of Snoopy to add stability. Snoopy will be soldered onto the front of the text plaque, and although there’s a decent amount of surface area to connect them, there’s a potential for bending Snoopy forward or backwards. Enough bending can result in a break, just like when a paper clip is bent and unbent too many times. 


Next step is to solder everything together. I’ll likely pre-flow solder on the backs of most pieces before reassembling everything for the final soldering. Because I’ve done all the sanding already, there will be little post-soldering work left to do. Aside from putting the spring and clip back together, I’ll use a brass brush to finish the surface and add a patina to bring some depth to the piece. 



Everything is soldered together and looking great! This time around, I disassembled the clip mechanism, since the heat needed during soldering softens the steel taping quite a bit. The perk is the spring stays super springy. It was easy to take apart, but a bit tricky to put back together! I ended up needing needle nose pliers to hold the spring and back piece together, and parallel pliers (one of my fav tools!) to push the flanges back into place. Everything is not re-assembled and ready to oxidize. 


This tie clip is done! The last step this afternoon was to oxidize the silver to enhance the depth of the layering and text. 


There are a lot of options for darkening metal, but I’m a fan of liver of sulfur. It’s stinky dark yellow chips which dissolve into a dark yellow liquid that smells like rotten eggs. Fun! But it does give a perfect finish: a deep, rich gray which improves with a brass brush finish. 


Right out of the liver of sulfur solution, the piece is matte black. I used 800 grit sand paper to remove the oxidation from the flat surface around the text, and finished the entire piece with a soapy brass brush. 




This was a fun piece to put together! Snoopy is made from 5 individual pieces. The construction of Snoopy was fairly straight forward, but the etching was tricky and a great learning challenge. This guys is going to be off to his home soon, where I hope he is well worn and loved. 


Up next: new enameled jewelry!