Make an original geode pendant of your very own!
Have you ever seen natural objects that look like they have been "dipped" in metal? Have a special non-metallic treasure that you want to make into a pendant without drilling a hole in it? You can use the same principles of electroforming to make your own unique pieces!
Step 1: Materials
What you will need:
1. Rectifier - I am using a 3 amp, which is more than sufficient for the copper electroforming that I am doing. You can purchase a rectifier, or you can create one yourself, but the important thing is to be able to fine tune the voltage and amps while working with your piece.
2. Positive and negative lead wires to attach to the rectifier and your work set up
3. Glass beaker or container deep enough to hold your piece
4. Copper electroforming solution - I bought mine from riogrande.com.
5. Copper conductive paint - I bought mine from Safer Solutions, and it can be thinned using distilled water (very handy)
6. Copper anode - I am using about 2 ft of 8 gauge solid copper wire from my local hardware store.
7. Copper wire - I am using 24 gauge copper wire from a local craft store
8. Distilled water
9. Rubber gloves
10. Eye protection
11. Small paint brush
12. Super glue and/or Jewelers glue - I prefer superglue
13. Metal jump rings to attach to your pendant
14. Brass brush - If your anode becomes dull, shine it back up with a brass brush!
15. Chopsticks to support your piece being held in the solution
16. Something to electroform! In this Instructable, I am using a geode slice
Optional or case sensitive:
- Clear Laquer - this would be used prior to painting your pieces if your piece is organic and may deteriorate in the copper electroforming solution, like leaves or flowers
- chains to finish your pendant
Step 2: Attach Rings
-To begin, take your piece and decide how you want it to be worn. Often with pendants, you will just want to attach a ring to the top of the piece to hang it straight up and down, but there are many different ways to choose from. It is up to you! I am attaching two rings- one to each end of my pendant.
-Now, using the super glue or jewelers glue, attach a jump ring to your piece. Make sure that inside of the ring remains free of glue. Unless you have 3 hands, it might be useful to employ clothes pins to hold your piece. I also use an old hairbrush to support my pieces while they dry. Drying times will vary, but make sure that the glue is entirely dry before you move on.
***If you are electroforming an organic object that will not hold up in the solution, you must lacquer the piece before moving forward. Sometimes I lacquer an object both before and after attaching a ring, it all depends on how fragile your piece is.*****
Step 3: Conductive Paint
Now that the glue is dry, paint the parts of your object that you want to "grow" copper on using the copper conductive paint. I am painting the edges of my geode.
Be sure to completely cover the glued area in paint. If your ring is not copper, I would suggest adding a thin layer of paint to the ring as well.
Step 4: Prepare Your Piece
Now you are almost ready to electroform your pendant.
Take your 24 gauge copper wire and wrap it around your piece 2-3 times extending the two ends about 3 inches off the same side of your piece. Be sure that the wrapped wire comes in direct contact with the painted parts in a few places- this will create a better flow of current across the area that you need to electroform. Take the extended ends of your wires and wrap around the chopsticks so that they will hold your piece.
You can see what I have done from the photograph. The important part is that the wire comes in contact with the painted part of your piece, and that the piece can hang far enough down into the solution to be submerged.
Step 5: Electroform Bath Setup
-If you are using 8 gauge copper wire for your anode, wrap it in circles around the interior of your beaker or glass container like a spring. Make sure that one end comes up out of the glass so that you can attach the positive lead wire. This set up insures that your piece will be completely surrounded by the anode, and I find that I have the best coverage on my piece.
-Prepare a bowl or small tub of distilled water to rinse your piece in
-Put on your gloves and goggles!
-With the anode in place in the glass container, carefully pour the Copper electroforming solution into the container.
-Lay the chopstick support across the container so that your piece is entirely submerged in the solution.
Step 6: Its Electric!
-With the rectifier still UNPLUGGED and OFF, attach the positive red and negative black lead wires to the rectifier.
-Attach the black negative lead wire to the copper wire extending up from the chopstick support. Make sure you have a good connection.
-Attach the red positive lead wire to the copper anode extending out of the glass container.
-NOW you can plug your rectifier in and turn it on. I tend to get the best results with the Amp reading at about .1 for every square inch of painted surface. For this piece, my voltage dial is set for about .3-.4 volts.
***If you are not getting an amp reading, it is possible that you do not have a good connection with the copper wire to your piece. Turn off your rectifier, unplug it, remove the lead wire from your piece. Now rinse the piece in the distilled water and adjust the wrapped copper wire to make a better connection, and try again.
Step 7: Waiting!
It won't take long for the copper to begin displacing from the anode onto your pendant.
-After about 30 minutes, turn off your rectifier and check your piece to see that things are running smoothly.
*If the copper on the piece is bright and shiny, everything is working perfectly. If it is a dull salmon color, try increasing your voltage a tiny bit. Small copper deposits will naturally form on the wire around your piece, but if they are forming too quickly, or knobs of copper are forming on your pendant itself, turn the voltage down just a bit, and brush the knobs off before they become permanent.
-If everything is going well, leave the pendant in the solution, checking it every 45 minutes or so, until the desired copper coverage and thickness are obtained. When you check it, move the wire around a bit on the piece to make sure it is not adhering to the pendant itself...if you don't do this, the wire could become a permanent fixture.
I left my geode pendant in the bath for around 3 hours.
Step 8: Finish!
-Now that the copper has formed just like you wanted it to, WITH GLOVES ON, turn off the rectifier, unplug it, remove your piece from the solution and rinse in distilled water tub. *Regular water will work, but sometimes it contains minerals that will discolor the new metal coating on your piece*
You can use the Copper Electroforming solution over and over again, but between uses, remove the copper anode and carefully funnel the solution back into its bottle.
Your piece should be finished! Now you can put it on a chain, string, or anything else you've designed!