Etching on silver!

As promised here are the results of etching on silver…

In our Production A class we mainly etched in silver using PnP blue transfer paper as a resist.  Of course you can use any of the other resists that I mentioned previously, but some of them aren’t as good because they break down too fast in the ferric nitrate.  PnP is short for “press and peel”, and is used mainly in the production of circuit boards.

When you are using PnP as a resist you have to find or draw high contrast black and white images.  Then you can either print them directly onto the PnP by running it through a LASER printer, or you can print the images and photocopy them onto the PnP.  One side of the PnP paper has an emulsion on it, so you can’t touch it!  You can fit quite a few images on a 8″ x 10″ sheet of PnP.  Then once you are ready to etch you can cut out the one you want.

PnP paper with images
A sample of two sheets of PnP paper showing where I've cut out!

Of course you can use any metal you would like (as long as you have the correct mordant to etch it).  For our samples we used silver though, which has to be flat and perfectly clean.  After you cut out the image you would like to etch you use a hot iron (on wool setting – see, there is a fun use for an iron!), and heat the PnP paper, emulsion side down, on the metal.  You should do this on a wooden board.  This takes about four minutes or so – longer than ironing a shirt!  You have to check it every so often as overheating will cause the lines to bleed.  Then you cool your piece of metal on your steel block, burnish if necessary and peel PnP off of the metal.  You should be left with the black image on your metal.  If necessary, you can touch up areas that didn’t transfer properly using red marker or asphaltum.

The pieces of metal are placed in the mordant.  When I etched the mordant was well used, so it took at least 2 hours to etch the silver.  These are the results:

etched butterfly on silver
Yes, there is a good use for gray pumpkins... they allow you to photograph silver etchings!
celtic bird etched in silver
I also made a nickel silver etching of this celtic bird, so that I can use if for roller printing.
celtic bird etched in silver
Another celtic bird etched in silver
Hand drawn wood grain etched in silver
This is an etching of my hand drawn woodgrain.

This is a lot of fun, I must say!  Once I had made the etching that was required for the project I made one for fun.  I etched a zebra pattern onto nickel silver so that I can use it for roller printing.

nickel silver etching
The zebra pattern - I think I'm going to have fun with this!!

I plan on having more etching fun next term… after all, I have all those images still to use!!

Hope you are enjoying the build up to Christmas!


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