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Electroforming Resources for Aspiring Artists

MATERIALS SHOPPING LIST  |   GRAPHITE CONDUCTIVE PAINT FORMULA   |  SOLUTION FORMULA   |   ELECTROFORMING TUTORIAL  |   TIPS & GUIDELINES   |   ADDITIONAL RESOURCES 

I want to help other aspiring electroformers, jewelers, crafters, designers and artists out there get started! 
I recently developed a sub-brand of Enchanted Leaves called Cu Electroforming (Cu is the symbol for element 29, copper!) that features house made copper electroforming solution, power supplies designed and created specifically for electroforming, and starter kits that include everything you need to get going!  Interested in purchasing one of my starter kits or power supplies?


Cu Electroforming Starter Kit
 


Cu MiniForm Power Supply
 


This page is a constant work in progress!

Be sure to bookmark, and check back frequently,
or sign up for my Electroforming Mailing List for updates:

 

How to Electroform | Electroplating Leaves | Learn to Electroform Crystals | Copper Electroforming Solution | DYI Electroforming Conductive Paint | Learning How to Plate JewelryIf you would like to source out your own electroforming items separately, here is a list I've put together of supplies that you can purchase at about 90% all in one go on Amazon mostly with Prime Shipping. If you are a student, you can join Prime Student, and get free 2 day Prime shipping!

Let's Go Shopping!

 (if you can't see the images/links below, be sure to turn off any adblocker for this page) 

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Be a Thrifty Scientist!

How to Electroform | Electroplating Leaves | Learn to Electroform Crystals | Copper Electroforming Solution | DYI Electroforming Conductive Paint | Learning How to Plate JewelryHere is a list of materials you'll need if you would like to make your own electroforming solution and conductive paint.
This is the much cheaper option than buying the pre made items, but keep in mind that you must bring your patience and prepare for a lot of practice, trial and error!

Homemade Copper Electroforming Solution Supply List:

The measurements for a great solution is as follows:

Directions:

  • First pour some distilled water into your 1000mL beaker (to prevent dust)
  • Add 200g of copper sulfate (Hawaii/Alaska link, Canada link)
  • Add distilled water to the 1000mL line on your beaker
  • Using your stirring rod, stir until dissolved
  • Add 40mL of Sulfuric Acid, stir (always add acid to water, never the reverse!!)
  • Fill your 1L HDPE bottle with your new solution until you are ready to use. Make sure you use a bottle that has a safety cap on it.
  • Mark on the bottle what date you made it. When you begin use it, also date that for your reference.

    *If you live in colder climates (60 degrees fahrenheit or below), you'll want to boil your distilled water first, so you won't have any issues with dissolving the copper sulfate 

Homemade Graphite Conductive Paint Supply List:

Directions:

    • For dipping or spraying your pieces with conductive paint, you'll want a thinner mixture.
    • For brush painting, you'll want it slightly thicker, but also have a container of distilled water nearby to thin your loaded paintbrush up as needed.
    • Date and label any of these containers as well
  • Always shake well before using
  • Have a little cup of clean distilled water nearby when painting to dip your brush into to thin as needed when painting

 

 

How to Electroform | Electroplating Leaves | Learn to Electroform Crystals | Copper Electroforming Solution | DYI Electroforming Conductive Paint | Learning How to Plate Jewelry 

Electroforming Tutorial


My complete step by step electroforming tutorial guide can be found here: 
EnchantedLeaves.com/Electroforming-Tutorial 
 

Additional photos for the tutorials are coming soon,
and also (FINALLY!) my YouTube channel! :D 


Interested?
 

Sign up for my Electroforming Mailing List for updates:



Electroforming Acorns in Copper | How to Electroform | Electroplating Leaves | Learn to Electroform Crystals | Copper Electroforming Solution | DYI Electroforming Conductive Paint | Learning How to Plate Jewelry
How to Electroform | Electroplating Leaves | Learn to Electroform Crystals | Copper Electroforming Solution | DYI Electroforming Conductive Paint | Learning How to Plate JewelryHow to Electroform | Electroplating Leaves | Learn to Electroform Crystals | Copper Electroforming Solution | DYI Electroforming Conductive Paint | Learning How to Plate JewelryHow to Electroform | Electroplating Leaves | Learn to Electroform Crystals | Copper Electroforming Solution | DYI Electroforming Conductive Paint | Learning How to Plate JewelryHow to Electroform | Electroplating Leaves | Learn to Electroform Crystals | Copper Electroforming Solution | DYI Electroforming Conductive Paint | Learning How to Plate Jewelry
Electroformed Jewelry | How to Electroform | Electroformed Nature | Real Nature Dipped in Copper | Bronzed Dipped Leaves | How to Electroplate

 

 

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Tips & Guidelines

How to Electroform | Electroplating Leaves | Learn to Electroform Crystals | Copper Electroforming Solution | DYI Electroforming Conductive Paint | Learning How to Plate JewelryElectroforming takes some trial, error, tweaking, and a lot of patience! Here are some helpful notes that I've learned over the years.
  • Over time, your solution's electrolytes will become depleted. You can then use a new solution, or replenish with brighteners/acid and distilled water

  • If your bench power supply has the option of constant current- keep it switched on

  • If you are using a bench power supply, set both knobs to 0, and don't adjust the voltage, only the amps

  • A safe setting is 0.1 amp per square inch of your piece to be plated
    (length x height x 0.1). Since your piece is likely to have more than one side, use this wonderful surface area calculator to accurately calculate what number to multiply by 0.1 amps

  • Don't let your anode touch your cathode (don't let the bus bar/suspended wire/piece to be plated touch the copper coil wire inside the tank)

  • For best results, keep a 2:1 anode to cathode ratio in your plating bath. This will help to balance the copper to acid levels in your solution, reduce excess copper "sludge" running off your anode, resulting in a smoother plate

  • If you are having plating issues, but everything seems to be set up and prepped to the "t", consider the weather! If it's too cold, you will experience plating issues! Make sure you are working in at least 65°F (18.3°C) or higher temperatures. Set your beaker on top of a heating pad(on low! especially if your beaker is plastic) to bring colder temperatures up to working conditions

  • Air bubbles are unwanted! If you see any air bubbles on your piece(from air that was trapped in crevices during initial submersion into the plating tank), gently jiggle your wire until you see all the bubbles shake off. You might want to switch off your power supply, in case jiggling tampers with the connection. Failure to do so during the beginning will cause pockets of unplated spots, as it does not plate under the bubbles

  • 85%(or higher!) of the time your piece will appear pink/dull/matte- and that is very normal/common. It will shine beautifully with steel wool, a brass brush or a dremel with a wire brush wheel
  • Always be sure your organic pieces are fully dried and sealed with a water based protective coating before painting with conductive paint to prevent contamination of your paint and solution

  • Titanium wire can help prevent "floating" of lightweight pieces in your plating tank. The most effective way is to use a glass weight with a short nylon wire (both items are non conductive) to attach to your suspension wire to keep your piece submerged in the solution. Once your piece has enough copper formed, it will have enough weight to prevent floating on it's own

  • Titanium wire is less prone to fusing of the suspension wire to the piece

  • The more contact points from your suspension wire to your piece, the faster initial plating coverage. For example- suspension with your wire that spirals around your piece(photos coming soon!). This should be experimented with only after you have become more comfortable with electroforming

  • If you are brushing on your conductive paint, keep your brush strokes smooth and fluid, to ensure a smooth and even plating, as the finished plate will translate rough brushstrokes

  • Use electrical tape to seal your jars of paint, lacquer, paint thinner, or even any patina solutions. It will add an extra seal to stop the liquids from drying out

  • Always use distilled water when cleaning your brushes, tank, etc, to prevent contamination

  • There is no shame in needing to repaint spots you may have missed after plating. Try to catch it soon, otherwise you will have uneven layers of your copper plate. When repainting over a piece that has already started plating, thoroughly rinse your piece with distilled water and fully dry it before repainting the needed spots. I've made the mistake of painting on a piece that still had some solution residue dried on it- and the paint will clump and crumble right off!

  • Yes, you can plate multiple pieces at once. You'll need to make sure they are all connected on the same wire, or at least all on an conductive bus bar, and you'll have to increase your amps accordingly(0.1 amp per square inch). Only attempt after you're more confident in your plating practice

  • You can incorporate agitation (fish bubbler - but don't use any with airstones, they will dissolve and contaminate your electroforming solution!) to your tank set up if you are having issues with striations or unwanted patterned textures due to proximity of anode/cathode. An anode bag/filter is a must as well!

  • If using bubbles for agitation, get a taller tank, but use the same amount of solution. For example, use a 2000mL Tall Form Beaker with 1000mL of solution, so that there will be no splashes out of your tank and onto your workstation when the agitation is running. The splashes will also cause corrosion on your lead wire clips, and bus bar. Alternatively, you can create a lid using foil or saran wrap over your beaker to shield from those acidic splashes

  • Anode bags/sleeves are a filter that goes directly over your anode, weather it be a coil, sheet or pipe. They filter as your plating bath is running, catching all that copper residue sludge that falls off the anode, keeping your tank beautifully crystal clear. Stay tuned, as I plan to offer some anode sleeves for coils soon! They are washable and reusable 

  • Are there big chunks of blue crystals on the bottom of your long forgotten tank? That will happen when the water evaporates if you leave your solution out for too long! No worries though! Just add hot distilled water and stir. To prevent it from happening again, store your solution in your bottle
  • As an alternative to painting with a brush, use wide mouthed jars of relocated conductive paint to dip pieces in, removing any excess dripping with a soft brush

  • Protect your gemstones from being destroyed! Use a Liquid Latex (used for body paint, or masking skin from nail polish) to seal and coat gemstones or crystals to protect them from the acid solution. This is a good alternative to clear nail polish or polyurethane, if you don't plan to keep the seal on. Liquid Latex can easily be removed by peeling it off
  • As an alternative to painting varnish/protective sealer with a brush, you can also use a spray form of a water based polycrylic

  • Jewelry or display racks work great to suspend pieces you are prepping (weather it be the sealant stage or the conductive paint stage!) using opened paper clips (S shaped) to hang the pieces on the drying rack

  • Old phone books and text books work as wonderful leaf and flower presses! Leave in for a minimum of 3 days, but best at a week+

  • A low setting flat iron can also help to speed up the drying process of leaves (put paper or fabric over to protect them!)

  • Vegetable Glycerin is a fantastic item to keep on hand. It can be used to soften and preserve organic materials that you need to be flexible for your project. Soak your item in a mix of 1 part warm water to 1 part vegetable glycerin in a cup or jar of water for a few days to a week. Rinse and pat dry. Store in a plastic bag until you're ready to use

  • If you want a lacey leaf look- a baking soda wash will help to skeletonize leaves, gently brushing out the fleshy pulp. A good tutorial can be found here.

  • If you would like to patina your piece for an antiqued/oxidized look, liver of sulfur works very fast and very well. It smells awful, but is great. Experiment with different water temperatures for some wonderful color effects

This page is a constant work in progress!
Be sure to bookmark, and check back frequently,
or sign up for my Electroforming Mailing List for updates:

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Further Reading and Resources:

Have any questions about electroforming? You can send me a message, and I'll do my best to help you out. I am currently working on either a Q&A page or a message board/forum, for new and established electroformers to discuss and help each other out.

If you are on Facebook, there is an incredibly helpful group page for Electroformers:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/ElectroformingArtistsandJewelryDesigners/

Here are some reading/viewing materials that can be useful to have on hand. Some techniques may differ from mine, but the basic principals are the same! Some literature will go deep into the science and physics, which can help those seeking a better understanding of this fascinating process.
 

Affiliate Disclaimer: I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate
advertising program designed to provide a means to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com products