What is Electroforming?
So What Is This Copper Magic Exactly?
It may seem like magic, but it's really just a little bit of science.
Copper electroforming is a specialized method of metal deposition that involves the electroplating of copper onto a conductive surface. This process allows artists to create intricate and detailed pieces of wearable art out of a solid or organic material.
Here's a brief overview of how copper electroforming works:
1. Preparation of the Object: The object to be electroformed is meticulously prepared. It needs to be thoroughly cleaned and coated with a conductive paint or solution. This ensures that the copper adheres evenly to the surface.
2. Electroforming Bath: The prepared object is submerged in an electroplating bath containing a copper solution. The bath consists of copper sulfate and sulfuric acid, creating an environment conducive to the deposition of copper ions onto the object.
3. Electrical Current Application: A direct electric current is introduced into the bath, initiating the electroplating process. The electric current causes copper ions to move from the solution and adhere to the conductive surface of the object.
4. Building Copper Layers: Over time, layers of copper gradually accumulate on the object, forming a solid and durable copper shell. The thickness of the copper layer can be controlled by adjusting the duration of the electroforming process.
5. Finishing Touches: Once the desired thickness is achieved, the electroformed object is carefully removed from the bath and dipped in a neutralizing solution. Any excess copper is filed, sanded, or polished, and additional finishing techniques may be applied to enhance the final appearance such as a darkened patina.
Copper electroforming offers the ability to create intricate and detailed designs that may be challenging or impossible with traditional metalworking methods. It allows for the creation of unique and customized pieces and typically results in a textured, earthy, raw look which means no two pieces are the same and each one comes out with its own unique characteristics.
Each piece takes 24-48 hours from start to finish depending on how thick I want the copper to form onto the piece, and sometimes that time frame is much longer depending on how intricate the piece is.
Above is a photo of my electroform tank in action.
Above is a wonderful infographic explaining the basics of electroforming created by Altarbeast Alchemy.
Woah - Copper Turned My Skin Green!
Don't be alarmed if your copper jewelry gives your skin a green tint. Copper is reactive to the acid in our sweat, so it doesn't happen to everyone. If you are reactive to copper (this does not mean you have a copper allergy), all you need to do to get your skin back to normal is wash with soap and water. Greening skin is also a good sign that your body is too acidic.
All my pieces are sealed with a jewelry specific clear protective coating to prevent tarnish and oxidation, but there's not a sealant on the market that lasts forever.
If you have issues with a green tint on your finger after the protective coating wears off, you can reseal it with a layer of clear nail polish. For all my pieces that are not given an antiqued (darkened) patina, I do send out a free polishing cloth included in your order to keep your piece looking shiny and new!
If you want to know how to care for your copper jewelry, click HERE.