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smkyquartz 2014-12-01 11:02pm

Recipe for Electroforming (Copper)
Hi All!
As I have wanted to give back for all of the knowledge that I have accumulated from you very generous lampworkers, I am sharing this recipe for an electroforming solution so that you can electroform (copper coat thicker than plating) your beads or whatever objects that you desire.

Compared to purchasing an electroforming solution, this is really cheap.

What you will need: (This makes 3 gallons, so if you need less, break it down accordingly)

1. A blue plastic water least 3 gallons, preferably 5 gallons

2. Large funnel

3. 3 gallons distilled water

4. 2.5 pounds of copper sulfate crystals (check hardware or swimming pool supply stores)

5. 1 pint sulfuric acid (most auto parts stores, such as Napa, have this and call it simply battery acid)

6. "New Copper Brightener Part B" ( the only thing you will have to order for the solution)

The big thing to remember is "DO WHAT YOU OUGHTER, ADD ACID TO WATER". Remember this little ditty when you are making up the solution.

Mixing instructions: You might want to wear a mask and nitrile gloves to mix this. Safety first:eek:

1. Pour 2 1/2 gallons of the distilled water into the jug.
2. Start pouring in the copper sulfate crystals...use the funnel if you have to. Pour in part of the crystals (1/4 to 1/2) put the lid on the jug and agitate the ****out of it...shake rattle and roll. Pour in more crystals and do some more agitating. Do this until the crystals are no longer dissolving...that means the solution has reached maximum concentration.
3. Add the whole pint of sulfuric/battery acid. Agitate some more!
4. Add about 1 TBL of the "New Copper Brightener Part B". Agitate!
5. If you have a 3 gallon jug and there is room, top it off with more distilled water. Don't do this if you have the 5 gal. jug as the extra room is for easier agitating and the solution will become too weak.

You are done with the solution. Pour what you need into your electroforming bath container. When you are done (hours, days, weeks, whatever) run it through a filter back into the jug.

It is also handy to put a cheap aquarium pump into the solution while you are electroforming.

Follow your electroforming instructions using "Copper Conductive Paint" on non-metallic objects (also order from ). Porous objects need to be lacquered first. Glass does not. Copper conductive paint and copper wire provides the conduit for the current. Paint your design on the object, bead etc and attach your copper wire from the negative (cathode) somewhere to the paint.

This is not intended to be a complete electroforming tutorial, which can be extensive...just to give you the recipe. Electroforming instructions can be found online.

I will post a photo of some items that I have done using this solution.

smkyquartz 2014-12-01 11:11pm

A couple of additional notes on above recipe: As the solution evaporates with use, add small amounts of distilled water.
As the brightening effect seems to be wearing off add small amounts of the Copper Brightener Part B...about 1 tsp (if you are making the whole 3 gallons).

I use a big bath and put several items in at a time. I use a Rubbermaid or Sterlite deep plastic tub with lid.

Questions maybe pm'd to me or asked here!!

Darlene Balkcum 2014-12-02 9:25am

Thank you. I will give it a try next time I need more solution. Do you think it will be okay to add what I make to the existing batch (purchased) I have now?

smkyquartz 2014-12-02 10:16am

I don't see why not. Even tho it's got the acid in it, it isn't really caustic. The stuff you have is probably close to the same. To be sure, do it outside and wear a mask, and do just a little bit at a time.

HannahRachel 2014-12-02 10:51am

OMG. Awesome. Thank you.

smkyquartz 2014-12-02 11:32am

A photo of some shells I did some time ago!

SerendipityArtGlass 2014-12-03 12:11am

I mix my own solution and have not added the brightener. Just the crystals and the acid. I haven't had much time to play with my recipe and the only difference I noticed between the commercially mixed product and my recipe was that the electroform was laid down thicker than with the commercial version of solution. Being that the thickness of the copper is a function of the current, I need to do more experiments to determine if my solution is conducting the current better or if the diff of .5 vs .7 really caused the heavier deposit.

HannahRachel 2014-12-03 1:18am

I love this thread. I'm going to go delete the one in the Garage Sale section now...

edited to add... @Patti
I bought this one:
Haven't had a chance to try it out yet, though.

smkyquartz 2014-12-03 3:17pm

You could be right on the brightener not being really needed. I have a eurotool bench polisher and that will bring up a nice shine too. If you can get the other ingredients readily ( should be no problem) then try it before you spend $$ on the brightener and waiting for it to arrive. The conductive paint is essential tho. My bottle of brightener will last me 3 lifetimes...i have a problem in not buying small amounts. If it wasn't a shipping problem (hazardous) i could send you all some.

smkyquartz 2014-12-03 3:19pm

Hannah...the rectifier is almost identical to mine. It should work well for you.

Birdsonawire 2014-12-03 7:03pm
Has anyone been able to say whether this is the same machine as the rectifier you are using for electroforming?

Birdsonawire 2014-12-04 9:35am


smkyquartz 2014-12-04 3:04pm

I asked the dh who was an electrician and he said it should be fine. BTW...mine is a HY1505. Good price!

SerendipityArtGlass 2014-12-05 7:49pm

Yes Dawn-that would be what you need. A LOT cheaper than the Rio one.

Birdsonawire 2014-12-05 8:57pm

Yay! I am going to get one:)
We will have to set a play date Marie.

SerendipityArtGlass 2014-12-09 11:54pm

That we do!

Cherri 2014-12-18 6:38am

Wow, thank you..

HannahRachel 2014-12-18 10:36am

Did it... The recipe works perfectly.

The copper conductive paint I bought from Rio Grande, however, was decidedly NON CONDUCTIVE. What a big waste of money. I should have gone with the other stuff, but was trying to save time. And they still haven't refunded me, even though they already knew their product was a dud.

I have the other stuff being delivered today, but MEANWHILE, if you take latex paint (white) and add enough graphite powder to it to make it medium grey (Shawn makes graphite tools, so we always have plenty of that), you get really conductive paint.

smkyquartz 2014-12-18 11:29pm

Hey...that is good to know on the conductive paint!!! I have bottle of graphite powder some place in the shop and it probably was pretty cheap. I will have to try that!! Thanks, Hannah for that little bit of info!!!

Cherri 2014-12-26 7:05am

Wanted to again say thank you for this post.. I am anxious to try it out. I have been looking for some time. Now to get the machine itself and I will be all set. Thank you.

tracidawn78 2014-12-26 2:33pm


Originally Posted by Birdsonawire (Post 4685029)
Has anyone been able to say whether this is the same machine as the rectifier you are using for electroforming?

I'm starting to get everything together for a kit. I'm totally green on this so bear with me... is this in place of a rectifier?

smkyquartz 2014-12-28 9:10pm answer your question. I use a 1505 and this is a 1503. Mine doesn't have a ground connection, so i would just ignore the one on this machine. Hook up red/positive/anode and black/negative/cathode. Or you can go with the 1803 which is like Hannah's which is 3 amps and 18 volts...slightly more voltage.

tracidawn78 2014-12-29 10:17am

Whoa, they want $20 for shipping? That seems excessive :lol:

tracidawn78 2014-12-29 10:22am

I found it on amazon with $16.49 shipping, but then I found this and it's free shipping if you have prime: so it's actually the same price as the one listed from mastech but with more voltage... so... clicking purchase now :D Thanks!

smkyquartz 2014-12-30 11:05am

Traci...that's a great one! Same as Hannah's. Good luck with the electroforming!!!

alphamare 2015-01-04 1:47pm

This is great! Thanks for sharing Carol, I was just thinking about getting back to do some electroforming.

Cherri 2015-01-10 8:13am

so we don't need the tinning solution? I am getting ready to order the supplies from caswell. thank you again.
Oh and can the copper paint be applied with a brush instead of an airbrush.

smkyquartz 2015-01-10 8:46pm

Yes to the brush. The copper conductive paint i got from Caswell is silver in least mine was. Works fine. Thin with distilled water if needed. If you can get a small bottle of brightner, i would get it since you are ordering anyway.

Dragonfly Queen 2015-01-11 8:30am

Carol, thank you for sharing.
Great thread.

Ravenesque 2015-01-31 7:56pm

Thanks for this :wave:

I've never done this, I see some kits have a fish tank heater, any need for that? It is very cold in my garage where I will be doing this.

And Traci, did yours come with leads? They never show them with leads, if they do not, what kind do I buy? I see so many and I get confuzzled.

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