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Electroforming Resources for Aspiring Artists

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

I want to help other aspiring electroformers, jewelers, makers, 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? (if listed as sold out- please check back soon)


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, or visit my Amazon electroforming supply lists at: https://www.amazon.com/shop/enchantedleaves

OR  OR   OR   OR OR

Additional tools and supplies used are linked along the way in my free step by step tutorial!

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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!

If you like and appreciate the information and help we've included here, please consider donating for further research and development. Donate via: PayPalVenmo(@EnchantedLeaves) 


Homemade Copper Electroforming Solution Supply List:

The measurements for a great solution is as follows:

Directions:

*If you live in colder climates (65 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

 

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How to Electroform | Electroplating Leaves | Learn to Electroform Crystals | Copper Electroforming Solution | DYI Electroforming Conductive Paint | Learning How to Plate Jewelry 98% Sulfuric Acid for Copper Electroforming Solution Recipe OR 
If you like and appreciate the information and help we've included here, please consider donating for further research and development.
Donate via: PayPal, Venmo(@EnchantedLeaves) 

Free Electroforming Tutorial

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

Additional photos & information are constantly being added to the tutorial.
I am also (FINALLY!) currently working on creating video tutorials for my YouTube channel! :D 

Interested? 
Sign up for my Electroforming Mailing List for updates:


Appreciate the free electroforming information and one-on-one help I provide? Consider donating for further Cu Electroforming research and development. Donate via: PayPal, Venmo(@EnchantedLeaves) 


 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 Jewelry How 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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Troubleshooting & Help

Electroforming FAQs including troubleshooting
can be found in my free step by step tutorial:
Enchantedleaves.com/Electroforming-Tutorial/#Troubleshooting


Also consider joining me my  social help communities that I created for beginners and experienced electroformers to ask questions and share their work:

Reddit → r/CuElectroformingHelp

Facebook  → Cu Electroforming Help & Support 

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

Electroforming takes some trial, error, tweaking, and a lot of patience!
Here are some notes that I've learned over the years that I hope you find to be helpful. Be sure to see the FAQs section of my tutorial for more helpful information.
  • Over time, your solution's electrolytes will become depleted. Maintain your bath by using brighteners (Rio Grande, Caswell(part b) or internationally LustroElectro) , and check your bath's pH with a meter to balance the need for more acid or distilled water. A pH of ~1 is ideal. See the FAQs section of my tutorial for a guide on solution maintenance. (join my reddit or facebook groups for assistance) 

  • Only work in constant current (CC) mode with bench power supplies, set both knobs to 0, and don't adjust the voltage knob, only the amp knob. If you're using a MiniForm power supply, the voltage will automatically adjust, and you'll just set the amperage 

  • Calculate your amperage measurements at 0.1 amp per square inch of surface area (just the areas to be plated). 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. For example, if your surface area is 4 square inches, then your ideal setting for that piece is 0.4 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)

  • To avoid over saturating your solution with copper ions, 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're using a 10 gauge copper coil for an anode(which is the type included in my starter kits), note that 1 inch of wire is .33 square inches, so use this formula to calculate of many inches is needed per project: (area of cathode/.33) x 2 

  • Temperature affects convection of the copper ions and additives in your solution. If your work area is too cold, you will experience plating issues. Keep your workspace temperature at least 65°F (18.3°C) or higher. Set your beaker on top of a heating pad(on low) or a seedling heater to bring colder temperatures up to warmer working conditions. Do not allow your solution to boil

  • 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

  • You may find that a lot of the time your piece will appear pink/dull/matte- DON'T PANIC. It will shine beautifully with steel wool, a brass brush, a dremel with a wire brush wheel, or a jewelry/rock tumbler. There are many variables that cause this: oversaturation of copper ions in your solution (due to too much anode per cathode ratio, not filtering, and/or not replenishing the evaporated distilled water), too low of amps per surface area, or lack of brightener additives. See my FAQs section in my tutorial for solution maintenance instructions 
  • Always be sure your organic pieces are fully dried and sealed with a protective coating before painting with conductive paint to create a waterproof barrier and prevent contamination of your paint and solution. More info on sealing can be found in my tutorial

  • Titanium wire can help reduce "floating" of lightweight pieces in your plating tank, as it is more rigid. 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 its own

  • 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, ensure are all pieces are similar in size and shape, and you'll have to increase your amps accordingly(0.1 amp per square inch) by adding up all the total amount of surface area to be plated. To accommodate larger designs or multiple pieces at once, use any container that is safe from acid, such as polypropylene(PP, plastic type #5), polyethylene(HDPE, plastic type #2), or glass. Evenly space out your pieces on the bus bar and only plate pieces together that are of similar size/shape, or you will get uneven and unpredictable results. Only attempt after you're more confident in your plating practice. 

  • Incorporating agitation or aeration to your tank set up is a good way to combat issues with striations or unwanted patterned textures. If your anode is phosphorized copper (such as pipe) use a magnetic stirrer for agitation. Any anode type can use fish bubbler(NON airstone types) or an air pump with a tube. An anode bag/filter is a must with agitation/aeration!

  • If using bubbles for aeration, 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 (but above your bus bar and lead wire clips) 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 can be made with 1 micron thick acid resistant polyfelt. Sew or use a glue gun to make a pocket/sleeve/bag that goes directly over your anode. They filter the solution as your plating bath is running, catching all that copper residue sludge that falls off the anode, keeping your tank beautifully crystal clear. Keep an eye on your anodes, as they naturally deplete during the electroforming process 

  • 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, or with a lid/covering over your beaker (remove your anodes first!)
  • 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. For even coatings, you can also thin out your paint and use it in a simple airbrush as a spray

  • Protect your gemstones from being destroyed and contamination of your solution! Use a Liquid Latex (used for body paint, or masking skin from nail polish) as a resist or to seal and coat gemstones or crystals and 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. More details on appling/removing can be found in my tutorial

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:


Appreciate the free electroforming information and one-on-one help I provide? Consider donating for further Cu Electroforming research and development. Donate via: PayPal, Venmo(@EnchantedLeaves) 
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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. Also consider joining my Cu Electroforming Help & Support Group on Facebook or my  r/CuElectroformingHelp Subreddit Community to post your questions to me and the community! I have just recently started these support groups so that I can address commonly asked questions asked by my customers and other aspiring electroformers, and for everyone to post their work, discuss any issues, and help each other out. 
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. (if you can't see the images below, toggle off your ad blocker for this page)
 
Appreciate the free electroforming information and one-on-one help I provide? Consider donating for further Cu Electroforming research and development. Donate via: PayPal, Venmo(@EnchantedLeaves) 

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