Electro-etching Silver; Mare and foal project

I've been working on a commission, a gift for a vet student, that's led to some interesting creative options in my jewelry-making.

My client and I decided on a basic image of a foal in utero. A big thanks to all of my veterinary collegues who provided me with information on fetal foal position. As it turns out, there are a lot of embryonic and birthing position illustrations out there. But not much in the way of the nearly to term fetus that still has a bit of space around it. And as this piece is for a future vet, I'm keen for some accuracy....

Now that I have an image worked out, the next step is how to fabricate it in silver. I've been researching electro-etching, which uses a chloride solution rather than acid to etch. The trade off for using this safer solution is that it requires an electrical current to work. I was able to make a nice little system with a quick visit to Jaycar electricals and the $2 shop... a 12 volt laptop charger, alligator clip leads, some aluminum wire (armature wire which I already had - from art store or elsewhere) and a small steep-sided stainless steel bowl. And of course you need the silver chloride powder. I used a ratio of 10gms to 500ml distilled water. The solution is light sensitive and has to be filtered after each use but I've read that you can use it indefinitely.

I've done some experiments with various resists (materials used to block out the areas you do not want to etch) and refined my techniques, which I will go into in the next blog.
-bc

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