Sunday, March 19, 2017

Handmade fused dichroic glass jewelry: hand etching glass with etching cream!

I got a new, fun "toy" to add to my arsenal of glass-fusing supplies: etching cream!

I've been wanting to etch my own designs for a while and finally got around to actually purchasing the cream. I use a brand called Armour Etch, which you can order online or buy at most craft stores for about $8-10 US. The bottle I got is small, but a little goes a long way. This stuff is AMAZING.

Whenever I etch metal for champleve enamel pieces, I have to soak the copper in ferric chloride for at least three hours. With etching cream, it takes about five minutes for a design to appear. Basically, you apply the cream to any area of the pre-fired dichroic glass you want etched -- and it works best on glass with a coating like dichroic -- let it sit for a few minutes, rinse and then voila! You have an etching.

An important warning: this stuff is potent! When working with it, you should wear rubber gloves, safety goggles and a surgical mask. I also opened a window. You do not want to breathe this stuff in. It's strong enough to corrode glass in a matter of minutes. It will definitely burn your skin -- and your nose hairs.

Once I suited up, I got to work. Using my thinnest paint brush, I attempted to etch a design... and it turns out, the cream is a bit goopier than I thought it would be. It took a while to get used to working with it, so my early designs are a mess. I also learned that you need to apply at least two coats to each area because I had to re-do a few designs that hadn't etched properly.

Now that I've gotten the hang of using it, I'm having a blast. As you can see from my photos, I've experimented with making abstract designs and with using negative space to frame objects like the cat or hearts. I had to go over the black areas with cream a few times to fully strip the dichroic coating. Now I know that it'll take at least two applications to get the black nice and shiny.

My designs were all drawn free-hand, but you can also use stencils or transfer an image onto the glass to then etch. I applied a very light layer of cream just to outline my designs and then went over the lines with the rest of the cream. Stencils are fun, but since my desire to etch is so I can use my own patterns, I'd rather do them free-hand. Besides, I'm already working with decals and pre-made laser-etched glass. Now I have many different options.

I've seen some incredible etched pieces on Pinterest. Some artists have created landscapes or have etched intricate mandalas. Meanwhile, I'm happy that I managed to successfully paint the cat. I'm really enjoying the work, though, and have so many more ideas. Between my etching, decals and wire wrapping, I have plenty to keep me busy.

Check out the rest of my handmade wire wrapped, fused glass and enamel jewelry at Naomi's Designs and MayaGirl Creations.

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