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Instructions for the Cu Electroforming Starter Kit, or with your own materials


Step by Step Electroforming Tutorial
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Overview

Step 1 - Design & Prep
Step 1b - Preparing Organics

Step 2 - Anchoring

Step 3 - Sealing

Step 4 - Conductive Painting

Step 5 - Electroforming
Step 5b - Clean Up

Step 6 - Polishing, Patinas & Finishes

Step 7 - Preventing Oxidation

Troubleshooting & FAQs


Health & Safety Information 

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:: Overview ::

What is Electroforming?
Electroforming* is the electrochemical deposition of metal (in this case, copper) onto an object. An anode (copper) and a cathode (object) are immersed in an electrolytic bath that is composed of a solution of metal salts (Copper Sulphate [CuSO4]).
A direct current (DC) of electricity is passed through the solution via anode(+) and cathode(-), affecting the transfer of metal ions present in solution onto the cathode surface, building up over time and bonding the metal onto the object.

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*There is a semantic difference between electroforming and electroplating; both are chemically and procedurally the same from metal to metal, but where electroplating only deposits a very thin layer of metal onto the object, electroforming is intended to build a substantial amount of metal on the object, and in some cases even supplant the object all together, leaving a robust metal shell after the object is removed. In other words: Electroforming is when a non metal object is formed over with metal, and Electroplating is when a metal object is plated over with metal.  

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:: Step 1 - Design & Prep ::

Materials needed in this step:

  • Sketchbook and pencil
  • Piece(s) to want to electroform
  • Embellishing elements
  • Means of measuring surface area: ruler/measuring tape, caliper

Design
When creating design ideas, it is helpful to sketch out what the finished design is to look like. Popular design mediums are made from crystals, gemstones, leaves, resin, acorns, insects, pine cones, feathers, bone, toys, glass, wax, sculpted clay, metal findings, laser cut or 3-d printed plastic, and of course a mixed media of all these items. There is really no limit to what material can electroform, as long as it is properly prepared.

Start with something simple while learning how to electroform.

Surface Area
The surface area (in inches) of the piece to be electroformed determines the current (amps) setting; 0.1 amps per square inch of surface area. This can be thought of as “The Basic Current Rule” or just basic rule. For example, if the surface area of the design measures 4 square inches, then the current should be set to 0.4 amps. Surface area can be complicated, even for simple geometries, and using an online tool is recommended: https://www.calculator.net/surface-area-calculator.html 

A lot of projects will involve very complicated shapes and topographies, especially when considering organic objects like leaves or acorns, and these areas are often nearly impossible to measure precisely. Luckily the basic rule has a fair bit of wiggle room for applications for which this kit is intended, and a “ballpark” measurement is adequate. With that in mind, the ballpark surface area of any object chosen can be measured using one or more of the primitive geometric solids (cube, cylinder, pyramid, sphere).

An acorn could be considered a sphere; a flat stone could be thought of as a rectangular cube; a bone fragment as a cylinder; etc. A more complex configuration of objects can be broken up into individual solids and the surface areas added together. An acorn on a branch is simply a small sphere on a long cylinder.

Use a ruler, measuring tape, or caliper to measure the appropriate dimensions that correspond to whichever primitive solid(s) best fits the object (see above). Write down the surface area result and multiply it by 0.1 (the basic current rule) to get the current setting. To reiterate, the surface area measurement is not critical as long as it is pretty close.

Write down this number, as it will come into use during Step 5: Electroforming.

 

  

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:: Step 1b - Preparing Organics::
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Materials needed in this step:

Fully dry or preserve any organic material to be used in the design. This will prevent the object from wilting during the prep stages, and also prevents inner rotting of the finished design.

Press Dry
The simplest way to dry multiple batches of leaves is to press dry them in an old book. Tie a strap or belt around the book to tighten down the pages, or add something heavy on top of the book to add weighted pressure. Typically they dry after a week, but it is best to wait at least two weeks. Note that leaves that have been dried flat will regain some of their original natural 3-dimensional aesthetic once they are exposed to moisture again during Steps 3 and 4.

Iron Dry
An iron or flat iron on a low temperature setting can help speed up the drying process. Sandwich the leaves in between two sheets of parchment paper before ironing to prevent burning. Use wax paper if color preservation is important, for example if the final electroformed design features an area of the exposed original leaf. 

Silica Sand
Use silica sand/gel to preserve and retain the shape of fresh leaves and flowers. Wearing gloves and a dust mask, line the bottom of a container with silica sand and lay down the items to be preserved. Layer more silica sand over until completely covered. Close the lid, or cover tightly with saran wrap. The process finishes in about 3-5 days. Wearing gloves and a dust mask, gently remove the items from the silica sand, and dust off as necessary. Store the items in an airtight plastic bag or container until they are needed. The silica sand is reusable. 

Vegetable Glycerin 
To soften and preserve organic materials that need to be flexible for the design, soak the item in a container with a 1:1 ratio of warm water to vegetable glycerin for a few days to a week. Assure the items are submerged, and close the lid on the container. Periodically check the process until the leaves are soft, pliable, and no longer fragile. Rinse well and pat dry. Store the items in an airtight plastic bag until they are needed. The glycerin liquid may become discolored, but it can be retained and reused again.

Oven Bake
Fresh acorns, pinecones, wood, etc, can be baked in an oven to remove their moisture. Bake them on a flat pan or baking sheet on a low temperature (175°F - 200°F, or 77°C - 93°C) for about two hours, or until all moisture has evaporated. Glue any acorn cap on after they are dried, as they will easily come off during the next stages.

How to make skeleton leaves for electroforming | Electroform Skeleton LeafSkeletonizing Leaves
To create a lacy or filigree look to leaves, boil them in baking soda to remove the fleshy pulp on them and reveal the skeleton structure. It is best to do this when the leaves are picked fresh 

    • Bake ¾ of a cup of baking soda at 300 degrees for about a half hour(this turns it into washing soda/sodium carbonate)
    • Boil 2 cups of water, add the washing soda, stir
    • Bring down to a simmer and add the leaves. Let them simmer for about 1.5 hours, adding any extra water as needed
    • Strain and gently rinse with water
    • Next, use a paint or tooth brush and clean water to gently remove the pulp of the leaf, revealing the veins. This may need to be done on both sides, depending on the type of leaf
    • Blot with a paper towel and flatten in a book to fully dry, or soften and preserve using the vegetable glycerin technique outlined above

When applying conductive paint to the skeleton leaf, paint it directly on a flat surface, periodically lift up the leaf while painting, and blot with a brush to retain the lacy appearance.

For more robust leaf types and faster processing times, use 2 cups of water to 1 tablespoon lye/caustic soda/sodium hydroxide in place of the baking soda/washing soda/sodium carbonate.

If time isn’t a concern, simmer the leaves for ~10 hours in the prefered choice of mixture from either recipe listed above. After rinsing, soak in a container of water for a week. This result will give the appearance of a more naturally decayed leaf.

 

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:: Step 2 - Anchoring ::
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Materials needed in this step:

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Once the design is established, there may be a need to adhere an anchor to the object as an attachment point for the suspension wire. The anchor is usually a jewelry finding that is incorporated into the design.

Anchors may not be needed if the design already has a hole, is a ring, or if the suspension wire is to be incorporated in the design.

Anchor Types
Jump rings, formed wire, a charm/pendant that has a loop on it, a fold over or glue on bails, or sculpted clay are just a few examples of different anchors that are commonly used. Get creative by incorporating something else as a connection to attach to the design.

Electroforming will build up copper onto every surface that has been made conductive, so take that into account when choosing the inner size of the anchor. For example, if using a jump ring with a small diameter, the resulting copper build up of the electroformed design will make the ring’s opening too small for the necklace chain.

Similarly, this concept will affect sizing of rings made to be worn on fingers, post electroformed. Artists generally design rings a ½ to 1 size larger than the intended final size, which will vary depending on the amount of hours spent being electroformed.

Glue
E6000 is a multipurpose solvent glue used for jewelry. It will begin to set in about 2 minutes after its been exposed to oxygen, and has a working time of about 10 minutes. 
Super glue(gel or regular) will also work well to adhere the anchor to the design. To accelerate the setting time, sprinkle a little bit of baking soda over the super glue. Rinse off any baking soda residue, as it will react with the electroforming solution.

Allow for the glue cure a few hours or overnight before continuing to the sealant and/or conductive painting stage. Always be in a well ventilated area when using any type of glue.

Building Mass (optional)
The electroforming process will build up mass of copper on its own, however, some artists wish to create differentiating levels of sculptural mass on their design by using 
apoxie sculpt (two part mix, air dried) or a polymer clay(which requires baking at a low temperature). It is important to note that sculptural mass that is preemptively created before electroforming is not a replacement for the structural strength and stability that comes from the thick copper layers built up over prolonged hours in the plating bath.

Use fine grit sandpaper to gently smooth out any fingerprints or uneven texture on the hardened clay designs, or acetone on a cotton swab for unbaked polymer clays prior to baking.

These techniques used in conjunction with an anchor will bypass the need for glue, but may need sealing if they are porous.

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:: Step 3 - Sealing ::
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Materials needed in this step:

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Sealants
Polyurethane lacquer and Mod Podge are water based sealants that are commonly used. These can be found in a liquid or a spray form. Resin, or nail polish are also used. Note, only use nail polish if using a water or alcohol based conductive paint- not an acetone based paint.

Application Methods
When painting with a brush, make thin and even strokes, keeping in mind that any texture may show up in the finished electroformed surface. Lightly thin if necessary by periodically dipping the brush in water between dipping in the sealant. Use spring clamps and alligator clips as a “third hand” to help hold up the design while painting.

For the dipping method, hook an opened paper clip to the loop of the design and use the other end as a handle to dip the design directly into the container of sealant. Hang it on the drying rack and catch any excess sealant that builds up at the bottom or edges of the design.

When using a spray sealant, hold the design upright with spring clamps or alligator clips and spray from about 9 to 12 inches away to ensure an even coat. Work in a well ventilated area that is free from dust and wind. 

Always wear a safety mask, protective eyewear, and work away from children and pets.

Drying
Allow the design to fully dry. If needed, apply additional coats.
Use an open paper clip to hook the piece to hang dry on a rack. Jewelry or merchandise displays work great as a drying rack. Have a tray, mat, or a plastic sheeting under the drying rack to catch any excess sealant drippings.

It is important to let the sealant completely dry before moving on to the next stage. Approximately 6 - 24 hours is recommended, depending on the brand or type of sealant, the size of the design, and how many coats have been applied. Without a full cure time, applying conductive paint over a layer of sealant that isn’t fully cured will result in an unwanted surface texture of large cracks, or many little bubbles or bumps. 

When to use a Sealant
Designs that feature anything organic material such as leaves, flowers, pine cones, acorns, feathers, insect specimens, seeds, honeycomb, shell, wood, bone, etc. must be sealed.
Sealing will make the item waterproof, which prevents contaminating the conductive paint and electroforming solution.

Unsealed/non painted areas of porous materials(such as wood, clay, bone, and shells) may get dyed blue, or completely dissolve from bare exposure to the solution.

If the item contains metal (which would make it conductive), a resit or sealant must be applied over it to either protect it from damaging the solution, or to prevent coverage of copper, unless it is intended to be plated over.
Aluminum, steel and iron must be prepared first by painting over the surface with conductive paint, given a strike plate(which is a separate type of solution), or a resist must be applied to retain the original metal finish.

If the metal type is unknown or questionable, then it is very important to have it sealed to prevent contaminating the electroforming solution.
Design with areas that will remain unplated and have its original surface exposed, will need a protective barrier from the acidic electroforming solution, otherwise there is a risk of destroying the design as well as the solution.

Most gemstones and minerals must be sealed with a resist. Anything under a 7 on the Mohs scale hardness level must be sealed, or they may dissolve in the solution. Hardness level of 7 and over(for example, a quartz), may be unaffected, but it is always better to be safe than to destroy the piece and contaminate the electroforming solution. Types of metallic or conductive minerals, such as hematite, pyrite, or materials with a titanium(rainbow flash) finish will need a resist, as they will electroform over with copper.

Protect objects with a clear sealant, such as polyurethane or clear nail polish, that can aesthetically remain on the final design, or one used as a mask/resist, such as liquid latex or frisket, that will be removed afterwards. Often a combination of these methods are used to ensure security. Always seal well and ensure there are no gaps for liquid to seep in. 

If using a water based polyurethane lacquer, dip or spray the whole design in the lacquer, and then apply the conductive paint to the desired areas once fully dry. Or, use a paintbrush to apply the lacquer with a slight overlap over the surface of where the conductive paint will be applied.

If using
 liquid latex as a removable mask, paint the conductive paint first, with some slight overlap where the stone/protected area will be, then apply the liquid latex to the edge at the overlap. The latex will act as a resist, and will not electroform over these areas. Apply thick enough layers for good coverage.

The consistency of 
liquid latex can be a little runny at first, so first create a border using a toothpick or thin sculpting tool around the parameter, allow it to dry, and fill it in more latex. This border will hold the filled in latex from running over to the rest of the design. 

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:: Step 4 - Conductive Painting ::
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Materials needed in this step:

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In this last prep stage, make the design conductive by coating it with conductive paint, which acts as a roadmap for where the copper will build up onto. Before beginning the paint application, be sure that the design is clean and free of any dirt, skin oils , dust, or debris.

Paint Types
There are several kinds of conductive paint types, with different types of bases. Some of these include graphite with a water, acrylic, acetone or alcohol base, copper with a water or acrylic base, silver with an acrylic or acetone base, or nickel with an acetone base

It is important to correctly identify the type so that the appropriate type of solvent is selected, and to know if the type of base material or sealant is not compatible with the paint type. For example, acetone based paints cannot be used over certain types of plastic, nail polish sealants, or on designs with super glue. 
Be sure to work in a well ventilated area and wear gloves. Always keep the conductive paint closed when not in use. If the paint jar begins to dry out, or the consistency is too thick, add a thin layer of appropriate solvent for your paint. Thin very lightly only if necessary with a little bit of your paint's appropriate solvent: distilled water (for water based paint), 90%+isopropyl alcohol(for alcohol based paint), or acetone(for acetone based paint). Gently stir to mix, but do not vortex or violently agitate, as air entrapment or foaming may cause separation.

It is very important that to NOT OVER DILUTE the paint! Over thinning can destroy the paint’s conductivity.

Application Methods
When painting with a brush, make thin and even strokes, keeping in mind that any texture may show up in the finished electroformed surface. Wherever the paint is applied is where the copper will be in the finished result. It can cover the whole piece, or just portions of it. If painting just a portion, make sure each end touches another part that is conductive, as the electric current will need a path to flow through. Lightly thin if necessary by periodically dipping the brush in the appropriate solvent for your paint (either distilled water, 90%+ isopropyl alcohol, or acetone) between dipping in the conductive paint. Use small spring clamps and alligator clips to help hold up and avoid directly handling the design while painting.
When applying a water based paint over slick or smooth materials such as glass, the paint may repel or bead off. This can be remedied by first applying a layer of sealant or paint that gives “tooth”, or a surface for the paint to adhere to. Lightly buffing the surface with a wet fine grit sandpaper will also help solve this issue.

For the dipping method, add some paint into a separate wide mouth container that has an airtight lid. Thin very lightly with a little bit with distilled water(make sure to only use distilled water, not bottled, tap, or filtered). Hook an opened paper clip to the loop of the design and use the other end as a handle to dip the piece directly into the container. Hang it on the drying rack and catch any excess paint that builds up at the bottom or edges of the piece.

When using the paint in a spray brush, hold the design upright on spring clips and/or alligator clips and spray from about 9 to 12 inches away to ensure an even coat. Work in an area that is free from dust and wind.  Always wear a safety mask, protective eyewear, and work far away from children and pets.

Drying and Additional Coats
Apply 2 to 3 thin coats of conductive paint(some types may require more coats- check with the brand's instructions). Allow the applied paint to dry at least 20-25 minutes before applying any additional coats, otherwise it will cause bubbles or cracked textures

 

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:: Step 5 - Electroforming ::

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Materials needed in this step:

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Workstation Set Up
Select a warm (65 degrees or higher), well ventilated, flat workspace that is out of reach of pets and children to set up the electroforming station:

  • Set the cleaned beaker inside a lipped tray

  • Using a 2:1 anode to cathode ratio amount(see the notes on consistency for instructions below on measuring this), place your anode inside the beaker with the top end sticking out over the edge of the lip

  • Wearing safety glasses, carefully pour the copper electroforming solution into the beaker. Wear a safety mask if ventilation is insufficient

  • Keep track of evaporation by marking a line on the beaker where the liquid goes up to (1000 mL). Add distilled water to the solution as natural evaporation happens. This will help prevent oversaturation of copper ions in the solution

Prepare the Cathode
Remember to always wear gloves when handling the painted cathode, as conductive resistant spots may occur due to skin oils from the skin

Next, creating a means of suspending the item into the beaker:

  • Cut a piece of thin 26 gauge wire to loop around the wooden suspension bar, or busbar. Only use thin, copper wire (24 gauge or thinner), otherwise if too thick, it will draw current away from the cathode. Only use copper wire that is bare, as any anti tarnishing agents, such as seen in craft wire will prevent current from flowing to the cathode
  • Using pliers, create a hooked loop on the other end of the wire onto the prepared design(the cathode). It should be long enough to fully submerge into the solution, but not too long that it will touch the bottom of the beaker
  • Lightweight items such as plastic, wood or other organic material, will need a weight to keep the design from floating up and out of the solution. Use glass and a short piece of nylon thread as an anchor until the cathode has enough copper build up to independently weigh itself down. Glass and nylon wire are ideal because each are non conductive, and won't affect the plating. Attach one end of the nylon thread to the hook of the suspension wire, and the other end to the glass anchor


Power Up!

For this stage, a power supply(aka rectifier) will be used to apply low direct current from the anode to the cathode.
Keep all components clean and free of corrosion. Failure to do so will cause connection issues, and prevent current from flowing to the cathode. Splashes and prolonged exposure to the electroforming solution can quickly cause a build up of corrosion on the lead wire clips, as well as the anode.

If using the Cu MiniForm power supply, follow these instructions:

  • Plug in the lead wires to the Cu MiniForm power supply

  • Attach the red lead wire clip to the end of the anode that is slightly sticking out of the beaker, and the black lead wire clip to the top of the cathode suspension wire that is wrapped on the suspension bar. Do not let the clips directly touch the liquid solution

  • Plug in the Cu MiniForm to an electrical outlet to power on

  • Submerge the suspended cathode into the solution, so that it is evenly placed in the center of the beaker and not touching the anode. If needed, use two spring clamps on the suspension bar, wedging them against each side of the beaker. This will help keep the bar in place

  • Using the + / - buttons, bring the number on the screen to the calculated amps per square inch of surface area to plate. (Calculated in Step 1, Design & Prep- 0.1 amps per sq inch of surface area)

  • Make note of the starting time

If using a bench power supply, follow these instructions:

  • Plug in the lead wires to the power supply, and turn the amperage knob all the way to the left(off) and volt knob all the way to the right(on)

  • Attach the red lead wire clip to the end of the anode that is slightly sticking out of the beaker, and the black lead wire clip to the top of the cathode suspension wire that is wrapped on the suspension bar. Do not let the clips directly touch the liquid solution

  • Switch on the power supply and make sure the numbers are all set to 0 (amp knob all the way to the left/off, volt knob right/on)

  • Submerge the suspended cathode into the solution, so that it is evenly placed in the center of the beaker and not touching the anode. If needed, use two spring clamps on the suspension bar, wedging them against each side of the beaker. This will help keep the bar in place

  • Slowly turn the amperage knob to the right until the numbers begin to move up to the calculated amps per square inch of surface area to plate. (Calculated in Step 1, Design & Prep- 0.1 amps per sq inch of surface area)

  • Make note of the starting time


Wait and Monitor
Next, copper will gradually form over the cathode. Depending on the item’s size, and the desired thickness of copper buildup, this can take several hours (Anywhere from 4 - 24+). It is important to allow enough copper deposit to build up structural strength and integrity over weaker base materials.

If using a bench power supply, the amperage number may drop a bit while the first layer of copper is covering the surface of the cathode. This is normal, as the total surface area is increasing as the copper spreads over the areas that are conductive. When this happens, slowly increase the amperage knob to keep it at the correct number.

If using the Cu MiniForm, everything will automatically adjust.

Gently giggle the wire if any air bubbles are present on the cathode, as they will prevent plating from happening on those spots if not removed.

Check on it every hour or so, making sure that the texture and thickness on the cathode is as planned. For prolonged plating/thicker deposits, an increase of the amperage setting may be needed, as the surface area will increase over time.

Monitor the dissolution of the anode, ensuring it remains intact throughout the duration of the plating. Replace if needed, before it breaks apart at the thinnest area.

Rinsing Off
Once the desired buildup of copper deposit on the cathode has been achieved, power down and disconnect the lead wires. Remove it from the solution and rinse it in a container of distilled water. Tap water should only be used if the cathode isn’t being put back into the tank again, as minerals in tap water can contaminate the plating solution. Always remove the anode from the beaker after use, and do not store it inside the solution.

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The cathode will sometimes come out of the tank looking pink/salmon colored, with a dull or matte texture. DON’T WORRY! As described in Step 6, it will still shine up with a few simple tools such as steel wool, a brass brush, a dremel with a wire wheel attachment, or a rock/jewelry tumbler. 

Several variables can contribute to this outcome. The addition of brightener drops in the solution does not improve the finish, then most commonly it is the result of either the amperage setting being too low for the surface area(below the target of 0.1 amps per square inch), or from oversaturation of copper ions in the solution from too much surface area of anode in ratio the the size of the cathode/design, and low distilled water levels. Using a 2:1 anode to cathode ratio, along with replenishing evaporated distilled water will help to maintain the copper to acid levels in the solution.

If the copper deposit is brittle, textured or glittery in appearance, then solution maintenance may need to be performed, which can be found later in the Troubleshooting/FAQs section in this tutorial.

To keep a 2:1 anode to cathode ratio in the beaker, adjust the amount of anode coil that is submerged inside the beaker, based on the size of the cathode. A 10 gauge copper coil (which is included in the starter kit) has .33 inches of surface area per inch of wire length. When using a 10 gauge coil, calculate your anode amount using this formula: (Area of cathode/.33) x 2
This will help maintain the copper to acid levels in the solution, resulting in a smoother plate. Failure to do so will eventually result in build up and oversaturation of copper ions in the solution, which can cause salmon/matte finish and unwanted texture.
Do not store the solution and anode inside the beaker, as this adds to the dissolution of the copper anode into the solution.

With each use, the solution’s brighteners will deplete and will need to be replenished. Provided in the starter kit(version sold after Feb. 2020) is a bottle of brighter to help restore shine and achieve a smoother plate (in conjunction to correct amp per square inch, 2:1 anode to cathode ratios, and distilled water levels are maintained). Apply 5 drops of brightener per 1000 mL of solution as needed. Excess will cause brittle plating, so start with 5 drops, and increase only if there are no visible improvements. Consumption rate of the brightener included in the starter kit(version sold after Feb. 2020) is 150 mL per KAH/kiloamp hour.
If the solution is passed through a carbon or charcoal filter (activated aquarium carbon or brita filters), all brightener additives will be stripped, and must be re added before electroforming. Always maintain water levels by periodically topping off the solution with distilled water.

Having the amperage numbers too high will “burn” the cathode, turning it either a deep red or brown, or a bumpy surface and other unwanted textures.

Temperature affects convection of the copper ions and additives in the solution. If the solution is too cold, plating issues may occur. Keep the workspace temperature at least 65°F (18.3°C) or higher. Use a sumbersive fish tank heater, or set the beaker on top of a heating pad (on low) or seedling heat mat to bring colder temperatures up to warmer working conditions. Do not allow the solution to boil.

As the cathode electroforms, there will be visible copper “sludge” particles falling off the anode. This is normal, and will be filtered out between uses(funnel and some filters included in the starter kit). Do not bump or disturb the solution while plating, or the sludge will cloud up, affecting the texture of the design. To reduce this sludge from occurring, optionally use an anode bag/sleeve that goes over the anode in the beaker and filters the solution while the cathode electroforms. It is a reusable filter that is made from 1 micron thick polyester felt which can be sewn together or closed off using glue gun.

Anything can be used for the suspension bar that goes across the top of the beaker that hooks the cathode wire wraps onto, as its purpose is just to hold the cathode up from dropping into the electroforming solution. A metal busbar is preferred, one can be made by cutting a piece of or 10 gauge copper wire. This method is useful if multiple cathodes are to hang from it, as the entire bar is conductive. Either use spring clamps near each side of the beaker, or hammer flat both ends of the metal busbar wire to keep it from rolling. To prevent connection issues, keep the busbar very clean at all times by scrubbing it free of corrosion between uses.

Air can get trapped in crevices when the cathode is first submerged into the plating tank. If air bubbles are present on the cathode, gently jiggle the wire until all the bubbles dissipate. Failure to do so will cause pockets of unplated spots, as it does not plate under the bubbles. If there are any bare patches on the cathode that didn’t plate, pull it out and rinse it off in distilled water. Pat dry or use a blow dryer to get all the moisture out. Use the conductive paint to touch up any spots that are not plating. Let the paint fully dry before submerging into the plating solution again. 

Make sure that the suspension wire and cathode don't touch the anode of wire. If using a metal busbar as the suspension bar, avoid contact with the top of the anode. If this accidentally happens, the cathode will not plate.

Consider adding some means for agitation or aeration to the tank setup. A magnetic stirrer not for coil anodes, for phosphorized copper anodes only, such as pipe), a simple fish tank bubbler without an airstone (for any type of anode), or a small air pump with a tube held at the bottom of the beaker will suffice. The bubbles will cause a stirring action within the tank that helps the copper ions coat evenly over the surface of the object. For the best results, use with an anode bag filter, as any excess copper, or “sludge” from the anode will kick up and may add unwanted texture to the item.

To avoid splashes caused by the pump, close off/heat seal the end of the tube and poke many small holes in the tube to reduce the bubble size, and also use a taller sized beaker with the same amount of solution.
For example, use a 2000 mL tall form sized beaker with 1000 mL of solution, so that the splashes will not reach the workstation when the pump is running. The splashes will cause corrosion on the lead wire clips, busbar, and top of the anode.

Alternatively, a lid can be created using foil or saran wrap over the beaker (but above the suspension bar/busbar and lead wire clips) to shield from the acidic splashes. 

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:: Step 5b - Clean Up ::

Materials needed in this step:

Products listed above link to Amazon listings

If the electroforming projects have concluded for that day, filter and store the solution back into the bottle to prevent excessive evaporation and deterioration of the copper anode. Never store the anode inside the beaker of solution. Keep the lead wires clips, power supply, and all equipment away from open beakers of solution, or they will begin to corrode from the proximity to the sulfuric acid in the solution.
Always store the solution and equipment out of the reach of pets and children.

Filter
Place a few layered filters inside the funnel and place it inside the empty electroforming solution bottle. Wearing safety glasses, carefully and slowly pour the solution into the bottle through the filter lined funnel. Repeat if necessary.
Evaporation is normal during electroforming, as monitoring the 1000 mL liquid line marked on the beaker will show. Top off the solution with distilled water(NOT tap, filtered, or bottled!), when the liquid level is significantly less than when started.

Rinse
Thoroughly rinse out the beaker and coil and fully dry them with a shop towel to ensure there is no residue left from the tap water.
To be environmentally responsible, heavily dilute any remnants in the beaker down to a clear liquid and neutralize with baking soda before allowing anything to drain down the sink.

Scrub
Scrub off any residue or corrosion buildup that is on the lead wire clips and other connection points on the anode and busbar. Keeping these clean will ensure a good connection when electroforming. Use a scouring pad to clean off the residue of the anode coil. After thoroughly rinsing, completely dry it off with a paper towel.

An or 10 gauge anode coil should last through electroforming several pieces of small/average size. The coil will get thinner during use until it breaks off at the weakest point. Simply replace it with another coil of bare copper wire, found online or at any hardware store. Bare copper sheets or phosphorized copper pipes may also be used for an anode. If using a copper pipe as the anode, do not clean the black film that will form over the anode. This is a protective film that slows the anode’s dissolution rate. Store the copper pipe anodes in a container distilled water when not in use.


Sealant/Masking Removal
After the cathode has been electroformed, certain protective sealants or masking applied in the prep stages may need to be removed. If a clear sealant was used, it is definitely not necessary to remove the protective layer, however some designers choose to if it doesn’t work for them aesthetically.

If polyurethane lacquer and Mod Podge sealant was applied, use a toothpick or any tool to gently scrape a spot of the lacquered area to create a break in the seal to lift and peel it off. Soak it in hot water to help to soften the lacquer if necessary. This technique only works if the sealant is water based. 

Liquid latex as a removable mask will easily peel off. Gently clean off any remaining conductive paint visible underneath the latex with warm soapy water(or whatever is the appropriate solvent to the paint base). It can be difficult to remove the latex if too much time has passed.

Use acetone or nail polish remover to dissolve any nail polish sealant. If there is concern of damaging the original mater (such as certain gemstones) use an acetone free nail polish remover.

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:: Step 6 - Polishing, Patinas & Finishes ::
Electroforming Tutorial - Free Step by Step Guide to Making Copper Electroformed Jewelry - Learn how to Electroform - How to Electroform Copper | Electroplating Leaves | Learn to Electroform Crystals | Copper Electroforming Solution | DYI Electroforming Conductive Paint | Learning How to Plate Jewelry - Electroforming kit - Electroform Kit

Materials needed in this step:

Products listed above link to Amazon listings

It is quite easy to turn that flat salmony colored copper that has been pulled out of the tank into shiny penny colored copper.
When working with chemical patinas, always work in a well ventilated area, wear a safety mask, gloves, protective eyewear, and work away from children and pets.

Polishing Methods
dremel with a wire brush wheel attachment will be one of the most efficient methods to get the design to a high, smooth shine. Use protection from flyway wires by always wearing safety glasses, or using a lemel trap.

scouring pad, a brass brush, or steel wool  scouring pad, a brass brush, or steel wool are also very effective methods for manual polishing.

tumbler (rock polisher) with a polishing medium can also be used to polish large batches of items at once. Use a little water and a drop of dish soap or burnishing liquid for tumblers as a lubricant when tumbling. 

If the copper layer is peeling or flaking off during the polishing, then that is an indication that the cathode did not develop a heavy enough plate and must stay in the electroforming tank longer until a more substantial deposit of copper formed.

Once polished, the surface will be a shiny copper finish. At this state, it can be preserved, given a patina finish, or left untreated. To preserve this color and prevent natural oxidation, seal it in with the preferred choice of protective sealant, lacquer or varnish(as seen in Step 7), or periodically clean and polish the raw copper when tarnishing occurs.

Patina/Oxidation/Antiquing
Liver of sulfur (potassium sulfide) creates a dark “antiqued” or oxidized look. It comes in a gel or powder form that mixes with hot water. Varying water temperatures and dipping durations can give blue, red, rainbow, or dark black tones to the copper.

Proximity or a vapor chamber, instead of directly dipping the design into the liquid, is a great way to either create muted/subtle oxidized effects or rainbow effects, depending on the water temperature and ratio of water to liver of sulfur:

  • Use room temperature water with a very small amount of liver of sulfur to water ratio for rainbow effects
  • Place the container of the liquid mixture next to the piece(s) inside of an airtight plastic bin
  • Check on the progression every 1/2 hour or so, until the desired finish has been achieved

The process takes a little longer than directed dipping into the mixture, but it can be well worth it.

A semi silver toned gunmetal effect can also be made with liver of sulphur (special thanks to ElectroAnnie for this technique)

  • Start with a highly smooth and polished piece(this is the key to achieving this effect)
  • Prepare three containers:
    • Warm water with a small amount of liver of sulphur
    • A neutralizing bath of water with a little bit of baking soda
    • a container of dry baking soda
  • Dip the design in the liver of sulphur until it is very dark
  • Dip into the neutralizing bath
  • Rinse it off under the faucet with cool water. Do not dry it off
  • With gloved hands, rub the wet piece into the dry mixture of baking soda, and rinse with cool water when the desired finish has been achieved

Create shiny highlights using a brass brush, steel wool, dremel tool, or a polishing cloth. Water and baking soda can alternatively be used as a scrub paste to clean and make highlights.

Black Max, Brass Black, and Blacken-It are brands of selenium dioxide solutions that also achieve a quick and very dark oxidation on metals. 

Modern Masters brand creates agents for natural green or blue patina aging solutions. These results are similar to the look of aged copper water fountain fixtures.

Gently applying flame via a handheld butane torch to the finished copper design can achieve brilliant red, blue, and purple colors as well. Be cautious on thinly plated items, or designs that have juicy inner organic material or gemstones on them.

For a natural DIY sulphur based patina, use a smashed hard boiled egg(including the shell) alongside the copper design(s) in a plastic bag. This process takes about 15+ minutes, depending on how dark the design is desired to be.

Advanced electroformers can achieve color patinas through chemical formulas and/or electrical current. An extensive list of formulas can be found at: https://www.sciencecompany.com/Patinas-for-Metal-Artists-C2682.aspx

Apply a sealant to the finished product to preserve the patina. Sealants must only be used after any desired patinas and chemical reaction effects are applied, as patinas will only work on bare metals that are free of any coating.

Please note any vibrant or rainbow color effects achieved by liver of sulphur or flame painting will dull or vanish once any type of sealant is applied. It is best to leave these items unsealed and kept out of contact with direct skin.

Color Dying
Transparent alcohol inks can dye the metal nearly any color, while still preserving the metallic undertones of the copper design.

Alcohol inks are highly concentrated liquid pigments that can be mixed together and diluted with isopropyl alcohol to achieve the desired strength of color.

Mix it with a sealant such as polyurethane or clear nail polish to seal in the dye color, without making it run.

Any unwanted alcohol ink dyes can be removed with isopropyl alcohol. 

 

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:: Step 7 - Preventing Oxidation::

Materials needed in this step:

Products listed above link to Amazon listings

What Causes Oxidation?
Natural oxidation can occur when the copper piece is exposed to moisture and other natural elements. This normal copper patina is what causes the “green mark” that can rub onto skin when worn as jewelry.
Oils and sweat from skin, perfumes, lotions, bug sprays, sunscreen also causes unwanted oxidation and patina build up. Always avoid wearing any copper jewelry in the shower, pool, beach, or when sleeping. Protect the items from high humidity areas by storing them in an airtight polyurethane bag.
To keep the copper design from naturally oxidizing and tarnishing, use some sealants to either slow the process, or prevent it from happening altogether.

Sealants
Polyurethane lacquer and Protectaclear both come in a liquid or a spray form, and in glossy or matte finishes. Apply similarly as done in Step 3. Hang dry after application, and apply additional coats if needed.

Clear nail polish is also widely used as a quick and inexpensive sealant, especially for the inside of copper rings. Gel style polishes make an easy to use and very strong enamel like sealant.

Another simple and popular sealant product is Renaissance Wax. This is particularly good to use if a matte finish is desired, and not a glossy shine or a slick surface. Work with disposable gloves and a soft rag or a shop towel to buff the wax into the copper. Wax as a sealant is not permanent, and will need to be reapplied periodically with wear. 

For all types of sealants, always work in a well ventilated area, wear a safety mask, protective eyewear, and work away from children and pets.

Oxidation Removal
Unwanted tarnishing and natural oxidation on copper can easily be removed off of uncoated/varnished copper.
Copper polishing agents, such as Brasso or Wright’s Copper Cream can instantly and brilliantly clean and remove all levels of oxidation of the item. This is useful if too much patina has been applied, or use when polishing up an older item that has been naturally oxidized. 

A simple and quick way to remove oxidation is the vinegar and salt method:

  • Boil a cup of vinegar and add one tablespoon or more of salt
  • Stir until the salt is dissolved, and place the copper item in the water
  • For more stubborn oxidation, use additional salt to create a scrub
  • Wearing gloves, use your hands to rub the salt into the vinegar soaked copper
  • An old toothbrush can also be used to aid in scrubbing the salt into the copper
  • Rinse well, dry, and shine highlights with a polishing cloth

To refresh and clean up unwanted oxidation on just selected areas of the item, use any of the polishing methods mentioned in Step 6, such as fine grit steel wool, a brass brush, or a dremel tool with a wire wheel brush.

A jewelry polishing cloth will help maintain shine and remove any mild tarnish or oxidation. Or, use a sealant afterwards to protect and prevent oxidation on the newly cleaned design.

 

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:: Troubleshooting & FAQs ::

Electroforming definitely has a learning curve to it and will take some trial, error, tweaking, and a lot of patience! Here are some troubleshooting notes and frequently asked questions and answers that I hope you find to be helpful.
Please also join me on the 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 

 

Why aren't my pieces plating?
First check and make sure the anode and cathode are not touching in the beaker. If using a conductive busbar, make sure the anode is not touching it. Next, confirm that the lead wires are correctly set up: The red lead wire (+) clips to the copper anode wire, and the black lead wire(-) clips to the cathode/the design. If these are reversed, the design will not plate. An easy way to remember is this mantra: “Red to Red (Copper), and Black to Black(Graphite)”, whole connecting the red lead wire to the red copper anode, and the black lead wire to the black graphite painted cathode.
If the problem is not fixed, then the issue might be due to any of the following: 

  • The conductivity of the design is not strong enough, and needs more layers of conductive paint.

  • Your suspension wire has a coating or anti-tarnishing agent on it, as most craft wires found at hobby stores carry. Only use bare copper wire (which is included in the kit). Your anchor or jump ring must also be free of any coating.

  • If corrosion is present on the lead wire clips, anode, suspension wire or busbar, then there will be connection issues, as current will be blocked from flowing to the cathode. Scrub down all the components and try again.

  • Your power supply or lead wires may be faulty. Contact the manufacturer for troubleshooting advice. If using the Cu MiniForm power supply, refer to the troubleshoot manual.

Why is it taking so long for the copper to cover my conductive paint?
There are several variables that would cause slow initial coverage of copper on your cathode. Different types of conductive paints vary on their conductivity. The higher the conductivity, the faster the initial coverage will be. Too thin or too few coats of applied paint will affect the coverage. Too low of amps per cathode surface area will also impact the deposition rate of the initial copper layer onto your cathode.


Can I use the copper electroforming starter kit to electroform gold or silver?
No, this kit is specifically for copper electroforming only. While the set up and principles are similar, the materials needed for electroplating or electroforming other metals are entirely different. Since silver and gold plating typically use cyanide based solutions, it isn’t quite suitable or safe for a home based business/artists. 


If I increase the current, will the plating be thicker? Will it be done faster?
The short answer is no, not really. It will not result in thicker or faster results. Having the amp numbers too high will “burn” the cathode, turning it either a deep red or brown, with a bumpy surface and other unwanted textures. Keep the deposition rate smooth and even by setting the current at least 0.1 amps per square inch of surface area.

There are lines growing on my piece. What is happening, and how do I stop it?
The appearance of lines on the surface of the cathode is caused by current lines. This occurs from proximity to the anode, lack of agitation or aeration in the bath, oversaturation of copper ions in the solution, and/or lack of brightener. To add agitation, use a magnetic stirrer(not for coil anodes, for phosphorized copper anodes only, such as pipes). For aeration, a simple fish tank bubbler without an airstone(for any type of anode), or a small air pump with a tube held at the bottom of the beaker will suffice. The bubbles will cause a stirring action within the tank that helps the copper ions coat evenly over the surface of the object.
To avoid splashes caused by the pump, close off/heat seal the end of the tube and poke many small holes in the tube to reduce the bubble size, and also use a taller sized beaker with the same amount of solution. For example, use a 2000 mL tall form beaker with 1000 mL of solution, so that there will be no splashes that fall onto the workstation when the pump is running. The splashes will cause corrosion on the lead wire clips, busbar, and top of the anode. Alternatively, create a lid using foil or saran wrap over the beaker (but above the busbar and lead wire clips) to shield from those acidic splashes.


How do I get that bubbly textured edge on my designs that have a gemstone in the middle? Do I have to turn my amps up high to get it?
The texture on the edges naturally builds up as the copper deposits onto the conductive areas of the design. This occurs when the copper on the surface edges are fully covered with deposits, and can’t spread out anymore, so the copper deposits begin to stack up on itself. The longer the cathode is electroforming in the tank, the larger the build up is.
Turning up the amps too high will not help to achieve this look faster, but may result in burning or unwanted texture on the rest of the surface.
You can add pre-texture underneath the conductive paint, using media such as microbeads(used in scrapbooking and nail art), sand, and other materials.

The conductive paint on my piece is cracking. Why?
This can happen if too much paint is applied at once, or if additional coats are applied before the initial layer has dried. Remember that whatever the surface texture is in the painted stage will carry over when the cathode is electroformed. It is important to let the sealant completely dry before applying conductive paint. Anywhere between 6 to 24 hours is recommended, depending on the size of the design, and how many coats have been applied, and the type of sealant used. Without a full cure time, the conductive paint that is over a layer of sealant that isn’t fully cured will result in an unwanted surface texture of large cracks, peeling paint or many little bubbles or bumps.

Why is my stone so dark on the inside after I have electroformed?
Since the graphite paint is black, it will darken the light and transparency of any clear or semi transparent objects such as glass, plastic, or transparent crystals/gemstones. When copper electroforms on the design, it deposits on top of the graphite paint, and does not replace it, leaving the darkening effect as seen when the paint was first applied. To avoid the darkness of the conductive graphite paint showing through the finished piece, first put a layer of white paint or silver nail polish down on the area before applying the conductive graphite paint layer. This will reflect the light once more and brighten the design. Alternatively, use a copper based conductive paint, or copper foil tape in place of the graphite paint.

My first few pieces came out shiny, but now my pieces are coming out dull/pink/matte/salmon, even though I’m not doing anything differently. Why?
Several variables can contribute to this outcome. If using brightener drops doesn’t improve the finish, then most commonly it is the result of either the amperage setting being too low for the surface area(below the target of 0.1 amps per square inch), or from oversaturation of copper ions in the solution from too much surface area of anode in ratio the the size of the cathode/design, and low distilled water levels. Using a 2:1 anode to cathode ratio, along with replenishing evaporated distilled water will help to maintain the copper to acid levels in the solution.
Luckily, it can be shined up with a few simple tools such as steel wool, a brass brush, a dremel with a wire wheel attachment, or a rock/jewelry tumbler.

Why can’t I set my (bench)power supply by adjusting the voltage knob? I have seen YouTube videos where this is done. What do the voltage readouts mean?
When using a bench power supply, the voltage knob is to be turned all the way up/to the max to allow the maximum capabilities of the machine. From then on, only adjust the amperage/current knob per project, since each project would be requiring a different calculated number (0.1 amps per every square inch of surface area to be electroformed). The voltage readout will vary from project to project based on tank resistance from variables such as the size of the cathode, the paint used, the solution age and condition, thickness of suspension wire, etc. During use, the voltage number will self regulate based on the amps and the resistance in the tank.
Here is a helpful analogy to better visualize this concept:

Think of a garage like the power supply, the voltage as the garage door, and the amperage/current are various sized vehicles representing the different sized cathodes/projects. If the garage door is only open partially, then only bicycles and small cars can go through. But if you open the garage door(voltage knob) all the way to the max, then any size vehicle the garage was built to fit can go through: a van, suv, car, bicycle, etc.


Can I leave my cathode plating overnight, or is it dangerous? Will I burn my house down?
Yes, the electroforming tank can be left running overnight, though it is not advised for beginners, as it is recommended to closely monitor the electroforming progress every hour or so. Leaving an unattended tank can allow for many issues to arise such as unwanted texture, suspension wire fusing to the cathode, patchy or uneven plating, discovering that the red lead wire clip has fallen into the solution due to the anode wearing down and breaking apart, and other general adjustments.
And no, it won’t burn down your house.

Should I be afraid of electric shock?
No, there is no need to worry about electric shock. A bench power supply used for electroforming runs on incredibly low current, and it cannot shock you. The voltage is not high enough to overcome the resistance of skin. In fact, your cellphone charger has a higher current output. You may only ever visibly see harmless sparks if you adjust the clips on a conductive busbar while the power supply is on.

If I turn off my power supply, can I leave the cathode in the solution overnight?
It is not recommended, but can be done short term if needed. If you plan to resume the next day, there will be no major damage to the solution, anode and cathode, but it is a very bad habit to develop.

What can I do to stop my piece from floating in the solution?
Lightweight items such as plastic, wood or other organic material, will float up once submerged into the solution. It may seem logical to use a thicker suspension wire, but doing so will rob current from the piece, so it’s best to use thinner gauge wire only (24 awg or thinner).
Use glass and a short piece of nylon thread as an anchor until the cathode has enough copper build up to independently weigh itself down. Attach one end of the nylon thread to the hook of the suspension wire, and the other end to the glass anchor.
Glass and nylon wire are ideal materials to use because each are non conductive, and won't affect the plating. 

When do I know if I have to use a heater?
Temperature affects convection of the copper ions and additives in the solution. If the solution is too cold, plating issues may occur. Keep the workspace temperature at least 65°F (18.3°C) or higher. Use a sumbersive fish tank heater, or set the beaker on top of a heating pad (on low) or seedling heat mat to bring colder temperatures up to warmer working conditions. Do not allow the solution to boil.

Help, my beaker is full of blue crystals! Why did this happen, and what do I do next?
This will happen when the water in the solution completely or partially evaporates. The blue crystals are copper sulfate, and the oily substance that surrounds them is the sulfuric acid. The copper sulfate will also crystallize on the anode if left unattended in the solution. You can revive the solution to reuse by adding 1000 mL of heated distilled water to the tank. Only use distilled water- not bottled, tap, or filtered water.

How long does the electroforming solution last?
The solution can be reused indefinitely if proper maintenance is practiced, and the pH balance is monitored and restored. See the tips on solution maintenance below.

What can I do to keep my solution working well?
Here are some guidelines to follow for solution maintenance:

  • Always replenish the solution’s evaporated water by periodically topping it off with distilled water, back to the 1000 mL line. This will help to maintain the copper to acid levels in the solution. Oversaturation of copper ions in the solution contributes to dull or textured surfaces. Filter the solution between uses or when necessary. Use coffee filters, lab filters, 1 micron polyfelt filter sheets, or an anode bag. 

  • With each use, the solution’s brighteners will deplete and will need to be replenished. Use commercial brighteners to help restore shine and achieve a smoother plate. Apply 5 drops per 1000 mL of solution as needed. Excess will cause brittle plating.

  • Avoid contaminating the solution by always sealing organic materials, soft stones(anything under a 7 on the Mohs hardness scale) or porous surfaces, rinsing away any baking soda residue, and avoid using anything with iron, steel, aluminum and other types of alloys to enter the tank without the proper sealant.

  • If the solution has become contaminated, pass the solution through a carbon or charcoal filter (activated aquarium carbon or a brita filter). Note that when using carbon/charcoal filters, all brightener additives will be stripped, and must be re-added before electroforming. If the contamination is due to iron, aluminum, steel, or other unknown metals, run the bath with a “dummy” or scrap piece of copper for an extended period of time to plate out the impurities in the solution.

  • Over time, the pH balance may need to be restored by replenishing the solution with more sulfuric acid or distilled water. The ideal pH reading is between 0.5 - 1.0. To determine this, use a digital pH meter to read the current state of your bath. Taking notes along the way for future maintenance and troubleshooting. Separate out ⅓ of the solution to perform maintenance tests.
    Low reading:
    Distilled water is needed. Use the ⅓ portion of solution and add equal parts distilled water. To remove excess copper/oversaturation, use a very, very small size anode and a scrap piece of copper, or a “dummy” cathode to plate out the excess copper in the solution.
    High reading:
    Use increments of 0.5 oz/1 tablespoon of battery acid (37% concentration sulfuric acid) to your ⅓ portion of your solution, pH test, keep adding little bits at a time and test until you get it down in the 0.5- 1.0 pH range. Test plate using a “dummy” or scrap piece of copper, and adjust with more acid if necessary.

What do I do if I want to dispose of my electroforming solution?
If for whatever reason you do not want to keep the solution, do not dump it down the drain. Neutralize it with baking soda, and evaporate out the water to condense the volume for your local hazardous waste disposal service.

Why is my solution all cloudy?
As the cathode electroforms, copper “sludge” particles will fall off the anode. This is normal, and will be filtered out between uses(funnel and some disposable filters included in the kit). Do not bump or disturb the solution while plating, or the sludge will cloud up, affecting the texture of the cathode.
To block this sludge from falling off into the solution, use an anode bag/sleeve/pocket. It is a reusable filter that is made from 1 micron thick acid resistant polyfelt which can be sewn together or glue gun. This will filter the solution while electroforming. Using one will help to reduce copper oversaturation and achieve smooth plating results on the cathode.

Can I electroform more than one item at a time?
Yes, multiple items can be electroformed at once, however I strongly recommend that beginners should only electroform one item at a time in the beaker until they have gained more trial and error experience with this very fickle process.

Failure to follow these guidelines will result in uneven and unpredictable results:

  • All items/cathodes in a shared tank must be similar in size and shape, due to the parallel circuit inside this tank set up. In a parallel circuit, current will follow the path of least resistance, so all items need to have the same amount of resistance for even coverage.
  • Each item must either be all connected on the same wire, or suspended individually on a conductive busbar. Do not hang the items too closely to one another, or they will block each other from receiving current.
  • Amperage settings will be determined by adding up the total amount of surface area to be plated at 0.1 amp per square inch of the combined items.

To accommodate larger designs or multiple items at once, use any container that is thick walled and safe from acid, such as polypropylene(PP, plastic type #5), polyethylene(HDPE, plastic type #2), or glass. Look for either of the following symbols on the bottom:

Can I use the same power supply to electroform in more than one tank?
Yes, there are ways to do this. In a basic single circuit set up, you are using one power supply to one electroforming bath tank. The black/negative lead wire connects to your cathode, and the red/positive lead to your anode, and you can supply up to the maximum amperage, or current that your power supply can provide to that tank. To share the power supply’s current, you can set up a series or a parallel circuit. There are some rules and limitations to follow. This will work on any size power supply.

For example, let’s say you have a 3 amp power supply. In a Single set up, the tank gets a maximum of 3 amps. So if you have one tank running at 3 amps, your cathode max is a total of 30 square inches(run at 0.1 amps per square inch).

In a Series Circuit, EACH tank gets 3 amps. Having three tanks running at 3 amps each will give your combined cathode maximum total at 90 square inches. For this method, you must have similar size/shape cathodes in each tank. In this set up, double ended leads are required, where the first tank’s cathode wire is connected to the second tank’s anode, and so on. (see illustration below)

In a Parallel Circuit, each tank gets a FRACTION of the 3 amps. So three baths running at 3 amps combined has a cathode maximum total of 30 square inches. For this method, you must have similar size/shape cathodes and anodes, as well as the same batch of solution in each tank. All variables must be the same. In this set up, stacking lead wires are required where the positive and negative input/outputs are shared. (see illustration below).


When batch production of similar sized shape/sized items is needed, using a series circuit can be a huge time saver that will also allow you to stretch your power supply’s potential. Click here for a list of supplies used in a series circuit.


Need additional help?

Join my online communities for electroforming help & support:
www.facebook.com/groups/CuElectroforming/
www.reddit.com/r/CuElectroformingHelp
 

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:: Health & Safety Information ::

Always work in well ventilated, open spaces. Practice proper PPE, and use a fume hood if you are sensitive or the ventilation is insufficient. Always keep electroforming equipment far away and out of reach from children and pets.

Copper Electroforming Solution
Disposal: Do not pour down drain, neutralize with baking soda and collect all waste for your hazardous waste disposal service

Met. Corr.1 H290 May be corrosive to metals

Acute Tox. 4 H302 Harmful if swallowed

Skin Irrit. 2 H315 Causes skin irritation

Eye Dam. 1 H318 Causes serious eye damage

H372: Causes damages to organs (lungs, central nervous system, inner ear) through prolonged or repeated exposure by inhalation

  • Keep only in original container
  • Do not eat, drink or smoke when using this product
  • If in eyes: Rinse cautiously with water for several minutes. Remove contact lenses, if present and easy to do. Continue rinsing
  • Immediately call a POISON CENTER/doctor
  • IF ON SKIN: Wash with plenty of water
  • If skin irritation occurs: Get medical advice/attention
  • IF SWALLOWED: Call a POISON CENTER/doctor if you feel unwell
  • Absorb spillage to prevent material damage
  • Store in corrosive resistant container with a resistant inner liner
  • Use only outdoors or in a well-ventilated area
  • Wear protective gloves/protective clothing/eye and mask protection
  • Do not breathe mist/vapors/spray
  • Wash hands thoroughly after handling
  • Avoid release to the environment
  • In case of fire: Use dry chemical, carbon dioxide, chemical foam, or water spray to extinguish
  • IF ON SKIN (or hair): Take off immediately all contaminated clothing and wash it before reuse. Wash with plenty of water
  • If skin irritation or rash occurs: Get medical advice/attention
  • IF INHALED: Remove person to fresh air and keep comfortable for breathing
  • Call a POISON CENTER/doctor if you feel unwell


Alcohol Conductive Paint / Non Water Based Paint Thinner & Brush Cleaner
H225: Highly flammable liquid and vapor

H319: Causes serious eye irritation

H317: May cause allergic skin reaction

H336: May cause drowsiness and dizziness

H372: Causes damages to organs (lungs, central nervous system, inner ear) through prolonged or repeated exposure by inhalation

  • Keep out of reach of children
  • Keep away from heat, hot surfaces, sparks, flames, and other ignition sources. No Smoking
  • Keep container tightly closed
  • Use only outdoors or in a well-ventilated area
  • Do not eat, drink or smoke when using this product
  • Use explosion-proof electrical/ventilating/lighting equipment
  • Wear protective gloves/protective clothing/eye and mask protection
  • Do not breathe mist/vapors/spray
  • Contaminated work clothing should not be allowed out of the workplace
  • Wash hands thoroughly after handling
  • Avoid release to the environment
  • IF exposed or concerned: Get medical advice/attention
  • In case of fire: Use dry chemical, carbon dioxide, chemical foam, or water spray to extinguish
  • IF ON SKIN (or hair): Take off immediately all contaminated clothing and wash it before reuse. Wash with plenty of water
  • If skin irritation or rash occurs: Get medical advice/attention
  • IF INHALED: Remove person to fresh air and keep comfortable for breathing
  • Call a POISON CENTER/doctor if you feel unwell

 

Water Based Conductive Graphite Paint

  • Keep out of reach of children
  • Keep away from high heat, or from freezing
  • Keep container tightly closed
  • Do not breathe mist/vapors/spray
  • Use in a well-ventilated area
  • Do not eat, drink or smoke when using this product
  • Wear protective gloves/protective clothing/eye protection
  •  Immediately wash skin thoroughly with soap and water
  • Flush eye(s) immediately with plenty of water. If eye irritation persists, consult a specialist.
  • IF exposed or concerned: Get medical advice/attention
  • IF ON SKIN (or hair): Take off immediately all contaminated clothing and wash it before reuse. Wash with plenty of water
  • If skin irritation or rash occurs: Get medical advice/attention
  • IF INHALED: Remove person to fresh air and keep comfortable for breathing
  • Call a POISON CENTER/doctor if you feel unwell


Polyurethane Lacquer

H319: Causes serious eye irritation

H315: Causes skin irritation

H317: May cause allergic skin reaction

H336: May cause drowsiness and dizziness

H372: Causes damages to organs (lungs, central nervous system, inner ear) through prolonged or repeated exposure by inhalation

  • Wear protective gloves
  • Wear eye or face protection
  • Wear protective clothing
  • Wash hands thoroughly after handling
  • Keep container tightly closed
  • Do not breathe mist/vapors/spray
  • Store locked up
  • IF ON SKIN (or hair): Take off immediately all contaminated clothing and wash it before reuse. Wash with plenty of water
  • If skin irritation or rash occurs: Get medical advice/attention
  • IF INHALED: Remove person to fresh air and keep comfortable for breathing
  • Call a POISON CENTER/doctor if you feel unwell

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