My first sterling silver project: Part 2

Only two weeks more to go in the class and I’m already making some progress (and setbacks) on my sterling silver pieces!

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Working with silver has definitely been a learning curve for me, especially since painting on the ground to coat the sterling silver pieces from getting etched (or eaten away) by sulphuric acid in the etching tank is an important process. Not knowing how much to coat your silver with is also a learning curve too. You’ll probably remember from my first post about my sterling silver project that I’ve got one big piece for my cuff and two smaller pieces to form matching pieces of earrings.

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Sterling silver pieces coated with ground, in preparation for etching

Turns out having a bigger piece, like the one I got for my cuff, was a better indication of how much ground to coat your piece with, because it ended up holding on better than the smaller pieces. I’ve managed to etch a small section onto the cuff using a dotted technique with the scaled stencil I printed off a laserjet printer, then joining the dots together for the lines that will eventually get etched away in the etching tank.

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Progress of my etched cuff so far, to be continued…

As I mentioned before, coating too much ground can be a hindrance. You might have noticed the red dots on my cuff piece of silver. It’s not blood, I promise. Even with big pieces though, while you don’t have to worry about getting too much ground on it because the larger surface area means it takes a LOT of ground for it to be completely covered in a thick layer. The problem was that there were some air bubbles that weren’t there when I left it to dry. I had to cover the bubble spots with acrylic paint because otherwise I’ll have odd patches on the smooth polished surface that would get etched away unless it was covered. I know you’re wondering why I didn’t just use more ground? Ground takes a while to dry completely before you can work on it, so the instructor suggested using the acrylic paint instead because it dries so quickly. Now to show you what happens when you’ve got too much ground on your pieces.

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The earring pieces where ground was flaking off in chunks

I’m exaggerating a bit when I say the ground was coming off in chunks, but they were pretty big flakes. For example, if I was etching the lines for a petal, the middle section I wanted to stay came off. I thought I should prepare you first for the red part, which is why the earring pieces are posted now. Basically where the whole design was exposed when only the lines I etched should be, I had to cover the whole surface area with acrylic paint and re-paint the etched lines again when it was dry. One of the earring pieces turned out quite well (the one on the right) as you can see, but the other (on the left) needs some salvaging.

The instructor suggested using nail polish as it appears to work quite well, so that’s what I’ll be doing this weekend: finishing the etching on my cuff piece and trying to salvage the other half of the earring and hope for the best, while the OH is away for a work holiday weekend. If it doesn’t work out, I’ll use the piece that turned out quite well and turn that into a pendant instead, but I still like my original concept of having two halves of an image, using each half on one earring and when paired together forms the whole picture.

So if you can see, this is the original image:

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Source: Haute Draws

…and here’s what I did to create the stencils for my two earring pieces:

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Cool, huh?

What do you think about my project designs so far?

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