One of the items on my list of 40 Things was to try a craft I'd never heard of. Obviously, it is difficult to try something when you've never even heard of it! My plan was to google "unusual crafts," search through YouTube, ask my crafty friends for advice, and keep my eyes and ears open. It only took a few weeks before opportunity presented itself.
Lead Fiskateer Rebecca Peck posted a simple question to the Fiskateers. "Who wants to learn how to etch copper?" I was intrigued. I've etched glass before (for my epic 1999 party and at a CHA class), but I've never etched copper and wasn't even aware that anyone does. Perfect for one of my 40 Things! Rebecca set the date for the class, which would be live via Vokle, so I made sure I would be free.
The materials list was daunting to say the least. When you etch glass, you need glass, a brush, etching cream, some sort of mask, and some sort of adhesive. Easy. When you etch copper, at least the way Rebecca taught us, you need copper, copper wire, a 6 volt battery, wires, clips, an empty container, masking tape, distilled water, salt, rubbing alcohol, paper towels, a scrubber, rubber gloves, stamps, Staz-On ink, a sharpie, and a large workspace. I removed everything from Trevor's bathroom (because it is close to my computer where Rebecca would be teaching the live class) and started gathering materials.
The three of us gathered in front of my computer at the designated time and waited for instructions. The first part was about how to set up the battery and wiring. Steve did that, thank goodness. Then I cleaned the copper and stamped a design onto it. I used the Sharpie to fill in any imperfections in my stamped image.
Here's what our setup looked like before Steve turned on the power source. The stamped copper is submerged in super-saturated salt water. It is taped to a bent copper wire, which is attached to the positive terminal. The negative terminal is attached to scrap copper wire. The black tube is a bubbler to move the water around.
After 5 minutes, it looked like this- Tangerine Tango!
We let it bubble for 20 more minutes or so while Rebecca demonstrated some other related techniques. Finally, it was time to remove it. Exciting! I pulled out the copper and wiped it off.
Then I used the rubbing alcohol to clean it thoroughly. Hmm... not quite as nice as I'd hoped. Cool though. The shiny part is raised and smooth, while the dark part is rough and sunken.
We continued with cleanup, including removing the wire from the negative terminal. Check it out- it's totally encrusted with some of the copper that was removed from the stamped piece. Very interesting!
I don't see myself ever etching copper again. While the effect was cool (Rebecca's projects looked a zillion times better than mine), it was time-consuming, messy, and complicated. Copper isn't cheap and I have no idea what I'd do with the finished item if it had actually turned out well. But that wasn't the point. I had great fun trying a craft I'd never heard of. Goal #20 accomplished!