Sunday, September 27, 2015


I have not worked a lot with sterling silver since taking jewelry classes many years ago in college. Recent posts by Leslie Kail Villarreal in one of my Facebook groups have really perked my interest. If you search for her on the internet, you'll find many of her videos on YouTube. She just started offering on-line classes, and her first one featuring her boho rings is now available. Check out her website. She has a free video there on etching silver, which is what I did today!

The first thing I had to buy was a laser printer. A few weeks ago I found a nice B&W printer on sale for $150 off! The price was then $150. But sadly the extra cartridge was almost $90 ... Hopefully the cartridge in the printer and the new one will last a long time. Leslie recommended looking through coloring books for adults for designs that interest you. I found tons of them at Michael's.

The etching video recommended using glossy magazine pages on which to print your design. It doesn't matter if you print over images on the magazine pages, as the toner on top is what you want. Of course, it is easier to see your design by using pages with blank spaces. So I selected a design, reduced it to fit my future project, and printed it on glossy magazine paper using my new laser printer. Yeah! I increased the darkness by a few numbers, just to be sure. (Thanks to my good friend Drewcilla for saving magazines for me! Keep saving ...)

I found my old coffee warmer which works for small projects like mine. Flattened my sterling silver piece and cleaned it well. I had to cut the corners of my metal so it would fit. I'm ready! It was suggested that popsicle sticks would work to hold and then burnish the paper. One broken so that it would work inside the edge of the coffee warmer.

I found that an old grapefruit knife worked well as a burnisher, once the image had stuck to the metal. In case you're wonder why you are seeing the toner image, I printed on both sides of the paper. It confused me too!

After several minutes of burnishing, I took the metal off, cooled it, and then put it into a bowl of water to remove the paper. I was so happy to see an image on the metal! That left edge apparently didn't get any burnishing. You have to have a "plan" so that every part gets burnished.

Here's the whole piece ... it looks good.

So the next scary step is to etch the metal. I used Ferric Nitrate that I bought from Science Company. You mix one part of the crystals to 3 parts of distilled water. I protected the back of my metal with packing tape and taped on two pieces of "this stuff" I've been saving so that the piece would float in the solution.

Here is my etching set-up. The prepared piece is floating in the bowl of etching solution. The bowl is sitting on top of the coffee warmer. The bowl is next to and touching my tumbler. The vibration of the tumbler agitates the etching solution.

It was suggested that the etching process would take 1-1/2 to 2 hours. After one hour I checked and was shocked to see that the metal piece had separated from the floating device and was at the bottom of the bowl. The protective tape from the back of the metal had also been removed. Holy Moly. Did the solution get too hot? Anyway, I got the metal out of there so that the back would not get etched any further. It got rinsed and placed into a bowl with baking soda to neutralize it.

Happy to say that the metal has a nice etch on it! Maybe in a few days I'll show you my first boho ring .... ?!!


  1. Super clear explanation - didnt know about magazine paper and laser printing - and thank you for the link to Leslie - my ferric nitrate still sits on the shelf but maybe only for a little while longer ..... cant wait to see what you make - as always have fun