Tuesday, 9 November 2010

it's been busy

life in the studio has been very busy over the past few months.

I have started a very interesting collaboration with the suffolk designer, illustrator, henkeeper & gardener Celia Hart (http://www.celiahart.co.uk/), turning her lovely designs into wearable jewellery. the first pieces will be on sale on Celia's pretty stall at the Saffron Walden Art Fair this weekend. Celia has an excellent article on her blog about our collaboration if you want to know more.

I thought I'd show the process of turning Celia's print designs into pieces of jewellery so here are some images I took last Friday. etching is a hazardous occupation due to handling acids so I like to do the etching all at once to reduce exposure.

this is a shot of the blanks for leaf doodle and sleeping hare prepped for etching.

the black is stop out varnish painted on by hand.

the clear shiny areas are sticky backed plastic, with the shapes I want pierced out very carefully.

the combination of the two means that only the areas I want to be eaten away by the acid will be exposed. the other areas are not, so will stay 'raised' in the final piece. as with printing, it means you have to think carefully about which bits are cut out.

Once the varnish has set (they are cured under a bench lamp, which is what's happening above) they are lowered into the acid, which is diluted 60% nitric acid. In my recent previous life I was a research scientist and have a healthy respect for nasty chemicals so I wear PPE and use as little acid as I can get away with. I also have a great little slide bath with lid that's perfect for etching as it's very stable, resistant to acid, and is deep and small. ideal for small pieces.

this is a shot of the bath in action. the acid is a hazy green blue when it's been used due to soluble copper nitrate in the presence of silver nitrate. sterling silver is 7.5% copper.

pieces stay in the etch until I'm happy with the depth of cut. I regularly flush the surfaces with a small bulb pipette to keep the etching surface clear of salts to improve the etch, but I actually want the rough texture so don't go overboard.

once I'm happy with the etch depth, they're hoiked out, washed thoroughly and either painted again for a second etch or cleaned polished and turned into jewellery.

this is Celia hart's flying hare design after it's second etch and initial clean up. lots of work to do on it but it looks great at this stage.
more images soon of final pieces from this Landscape East collection.


  1. cant wait to see the finished piece!

  2. hello! I've just come across from Celia's blog. Really interesting to see the process behind your work. As a former scientist I share your healthy respect for acid!