Seeing our photoetching results: Leeds silversmithing week 3

Closer photoetched samples Leeds week 3

I am having so much fun on the 10-week evening course at Leeds College of Art. The tutor is really inspirational and is teaching us some really exciting techniques.

Photoetched projects final soaking
Photoetched projects final soaking

This week we saw the results of our photoetching on copper and silver sheets. The main photo above shows the whole class results; all the copper plates had been taped together for acid etching during the week and just needed soaking in caustic soda to release the rest of the blue photosensitive film from the surface. As you can see, everyone chose to do very different designs. Mine is the one with the peacock feathers. Only one student decided to try to etch through the metal. The rest of us wanted to pick out a detailed image on the surface.

Nearly time to make jewellery

The plan is to turn these strips of copper, which are 19cm by 3.5cm, into chunky bangles. The problem is that I come out in an itchy rash when I wear copper jewellery, which is very annoying. Contact dermatitis is common with metals, nickel being a particular culprit. I will need to coat the bangle with a sealant when its finished so that this lies next to my skin to stop the itching happening.

The smaller silver plates had already been rinsed so we were able to start work on those straight away. Mine had turned out to be very delicate and I still wanted to make it into a band ring and managed to anneal, bend, pickle, solder and pickle it again so that I have a ring to finish at home. Silly me though. When I was sawing through the ring joint to get a good clean surface to solder, I accidentally sawed into the other side of the ring. How stupid. Not paying attention.

Valuable mistakes

I make plenty of mistakes and the only way to view mistakes is that they are very valuable as learning tools. You can always learn more from a mistake than a happy fluke that goes right. And mistakes also present opportunities. To get my ring to fit, I had to cut two pieces of silver off the ends, about 1.4cm long. I did this equally from both ends because the pattern didn’t quite reach each end and I wanted the ring to be as ‘seamless’ as possible.This gave me the idea of adding one of these pieces, which are quite nicely etched, to the top of the ring to make a feature (and hide the saw mark). Ingenious? We will see.