Behind the Scenes: Electroforming
Curious about how I make my magical crystal jewelry? Take a look behind the scenes as I make a triple stone pendant using my electroforming technique.
These, above, are the three stones I will be using! Top is Rainbow Moonstone, Middle is Moss Kyanite, and the bottom is Fossilized Coral. The first step is to arrange them together to meet my design. This very first step I use a dab of strong glue to keep them connected so that they are sturdy enough to work with for the next step.
The second picture shows how they have been glued together to hold the design. After I am happy with the look, I use a permanent, two part epoxy clay to create a strong foundation before the metal forms on top of it. I apply the clay to the entire back of the piece and make sure it is all sculpted and smooth. Once this clay hardens its basically unbreakable!
I let this harden for about 24 hours. Once the piece is solid I look at it to decide what other elements I want to add to it. In this case, I decided to add some crescent moons. These can be made using a jeweler’s saw and a hammer, or you can add in anything else you like.
Once I am done creating the design, the next step is to prepare the creation for the electroforming process. The stones need to be protected because the electroforming solution can easily ruin many stones. I apply a good layer of a liquid latex product to the stones - you can see there is an orangish tint to them in the next photo. After the latex has dried, I then pain on the pendant where I want metal to form. This paint I used is bright copper in color because it contains actual metal particles - this makes it electrically conductive.
I then let the paint dry for at least two hours - it won’t work if it isn’t completely dry. It then gets submerged into the electroforming solution which is a mix of sulphuric acid, copper sulfate, and distilled water (always use safety gear!). The pendant is dangled into the solution which has an electrical current running through it, and those parts where I painted begin to grow a super strong layer of copper! This process takes between 12 and 36 hours.
The above photo shows the pendant just after it was taken out of the electroforming tank. Look at that copper growth! Next, I will peel the latex off the stones and use a rotary tool to polish the copper. I like to antique almost all of my pieces, so after cleaning it up I then blacken the copper using liver of sulfur. Its a liquid that will blacken the copper after it is submerged for a few moments. After patina always make sure to neutralize it with baking soda.
This is how it looks right after the antiquing process. I then go back with the rotary tool to polish up the highlights on the pendant. I clean up all the stones and then add a layer of clear lacquer to the metal to protect the finish. Then its ready to be hung on a chain!
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