Monday, October 22, 2012

Etching Beads

Etching beads is pretty easy. There are a few different ways to do it, but the easiest is to purchase etching acid, plunk the beads in it (using proper safety of course), clean them up and they're all done!

Gradually over the years, I've been etching a larger and larger volume of beads. I've run into minor annoyances with etching, like when several beads are touching in the etching solution, so they have some shiny unetched spots. It's even more annoying when i have a strand of beads strung up, I etch them in liquid and when they come out, they have shiny spots on the ends of each bead where the beads were touching.

So here's how I currently etch a large amount of beads.

First you need a shaker cup
Make sure you get one that has a sealable lid and a plastic grate. I bought mine at Walmart for 5-7 dollars.

Etching solution is pretty important too I suppose.
I highly recommend Arrow Springs' etching crystals. You add hot water to the crystals and make a liquid solution that will last a long time. 

Don't forget to be safe! Use gloves and safety glasses for this. Be sure to work in a well ventilated area. Keep all animals and small children away. This is not a chemical to play with!

Put your beads in the shaker cup. Keep in mind that they will get shaken a little bit. I don't use this method with beads that have raised stringer design on it. I mostly use it for large amounts of spacers, or other round beads.
Using your gloves and safety glasses, pour enough etching solution into the cup to submerge the beads. I do this over my slop sink in the basement. Seal the container with the grate in place and set a timer for 20 minutes.  I usually use this time to dip some mandrels, clean up the studio or whatever miscellaneous tasks I can do for 20 minutes. Every couple minutes I will gently shake the cup. This should make sure all the beads get an even coating of etching solution.

All done? Using proper safety, Pour the etching solution back into its container. The grate will hold the beads in the shaker cup. Add a little bit of baking soda to the shaker cup and a bit of water to be sure the solution is neutralized. I give the beads a good rinse with the shaker cup and then pour them all out onto a towel to let them dry.

Pretty easy right?