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Tips, Techniques, and Questions -- Technical questions or tips

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  #1  
Old 2014-06-07, 11:51pm
Aleks Aleks is offline
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Question Electroforming salmon and grainy??

Hi everyone!

I've been trying to do some electroforming for a couple weeks now and I just can't get it right. And it looks so easy in all the videos and tutorials: just dip your piece in the solution, turn on the power and you're golden!

I've read most of the threads and tried different ideas, but I'm getting the exact same result. It's said that if you get salmon color your current is too low and if it's getting grainy it's too high.. what if the copper layer comes out SALMON COLOR AND GRAINY??
I keep getting these grainy bits all over that just rub right off.

I'm using a voltcraft rectifier (that's what I got with my kit) and even though it has two knobs I can't control the current, only the voltage. The current seems to depend on how much solution in how big of a container and how much anode is in the solution.
My solution requires the voltage to be 0.5 to 0.9, my rectifier doesn't go lower than 0.6, and that's where I have it set.
I got 1l of acid copper solution. If I put it in a long container, I can't get the current over 0.06 amp. If I put in a 1l beaker I can only get the current to be around 0.15 amp
My piece is only 2cm sq at most! The anodes are 4-5 cm sq each (I have two in)
So right now, after 12h in a 1l beaker of acid copper with copper anodes at 0.6V and 0.12amp I get this:


Any ideas? Maybe I should use even bigger anodes?

Thanks!
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  #2  
Old 2014-06-08, 5:43pm
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fourpawsglass fourpawsglass is offline
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I recommend reading http://dalmar.net/electroforming.htm. There is some troubleshooting at the bottom - Read Item 2. They explain a formula for how big is your piece with your solution and anode size. Hope this helps.
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  #3  
Old 2014-06-08, 11:31pm
Aleks Aleks is offline
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Thanks
The problem is I'm getting the exact same result whether I have 0.1 amp or 0.01 amp or anything in between :/ I did bring it up to 1.7 just to check and it was still the same if a little darker in color.
I did discover yesterday that the copper underneath the "bumps" is actually strong and I can polish it to a shine with my dremel tool.
The bumps do show up in sort of vertical streaks though, so I have ridges and groves and I'm afraid to go too deep with the dremel in case the bottom of the grove is really thin.
In any case, I will keep trying to get it right
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  #4  
Old 2014-06-09, 9:11am
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theglasszone theglasszone is offline
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Hi Aleks!

I, too, am new to e-forming - and have many questions as well. Just to let you know, we are also discussing this same topic in this thread that preceded your posting. Here is the link so you can see what we said there too! http://lampworketc.com/forums/showthread.php?t=239946

Although I've only e-formed a couple items so far, I have found that if I take a brass brush to my piece as soon as it's rinsed and dried from the e-forming solution, it brightens up to the "new penny" copper color in a snap! Have you tried the brass brush technique yet?

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  #5  
Old 2014-06-09, 10:04am
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Yes, thank you. I am using the brass brush to get the shine, but I still can't get it to come out smooth (shiny or not) out of the bath. It's strong but covered with bumps. I tried to polish it out and then put it back into the solution to keep building on that layer, but the bumps happen again and I'm back to the starting point.
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  #6  
Old 2014-06-09, 11:34am
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Hayley Hayley is offline
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Aleks, I haven't done electroforming for a while but if memory serves, the only way to have a smooth layer is to put the piece in the bath for the shortest amount of time. The longer it stays it, the more textural and bumpy it becomes. If you have lots of bumps that flake off, try straining your solution with a coffee filter. It's good practice to do that after a few sessions anyway to get rid of the impurities. Hope this helps.
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  #7  
Old 2014-06-09, 1:15pm
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Thanks! I guess the question would be.. how do you build up a solid layer, cause that takes time.. or do you just build it with all the imperfections as thick as you can and then grind it down to a smooth finish? That seems to be what works the best right now.

Thank you for all your help everyone!
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  #8  
Old 2014-06-09, 3:05pm
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I just make sure the paint goes on as smooth and evenly as possible and leave the piece in just long enough for a thin, even coat - checking every hour. If memory serves, it only took a couple of hours.

Here is a very old piece:
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  #9  
Old 2014-06-09, 9:05pm
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Hayley, what a beautiful bead! I love the finish - deliciously smooth!

I'm of a different mind and experience, though, at least so far! But it seems to actually be typical - from all the reading, blog stalking and trolling I did before I even got started - that everyone has slightly different and un-typical "sweet spots" on timing (length of time in the e-bath) as well as how high or low to turn up the juice, type of anodes (bar, sheet, coiled wire, etc)! So I think experimenting is key!

Interestingly, I've been working on the opposite premise - I went with a long duration (about 11 hours) in the solution on a relatively low setting (.20 top knob) though I dunno if this knob controls the red or black wires . My result seems to be nice and strong, and I'm pretty happy with the finish too!

I will dare to show you, but I think the picture might be kinda crappy as I've not got my camera software unpacked from the move yet. These are two of my very favorite murrini of all time, made by the amazing artist Andy Buckles. I was skeered to death to put these in the e-bath, but am very, very happy with the finished products! The "Frank" measures about 7/8", so I 'm working quite small and carefully! These are the first in what I hope to be many more in my e-framed murrini line - including some of my own designs from the last 5 years!

Frank N Bride:



Ultimately, Aleks, I suspect that your using too much power. If you can't dial down your rectifier any further, it might be worth the investment to purchase another. I got mine on e-Bay for about $65.

Keep up the great work and chat everyone! I'm loving this!

~De
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Last edited by theglasszone; 2014-06-09 at 10:17pm.
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  #10  
Old 2014-06-10, 1:35am
Aleks Aleks is offline
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Beautiful pieces! I love them! You guys are super talented, keep it up!

Supposedly the voltage doesn't matter much (in all the tutorials it says to turn the voltage to the maximum, I don't know why, that just seems to burn the pieces). Then again all the solutions have different voltage requirements (one copper solution I have says 4V the other 0.5-1 V max) It's only the current that matters (the amps) and that should be 0.1 amp per square inch.
I've been leaving the pieces in for about 12h.

I'm going to try with a new bit, where I smoothed out the surface as much as possible, even ground down the corners and edges before I applied the paint. Will see if that makes a difference.

Meanwhile I took the piece I was working on and smoothed it with my dremel. You can see where the grooves are and how deep they go, I would have to take most of the copper off to make an even surface.


It seems like in your pieces the edge is also nice and sort of flowy, as if the copper was poured onto the piece.. mine just comes out all jagged and some bumpy protrusions break off.

As you can see it's quite thick, maybe I'm overdoing it, but that's how I imagined it's supposed to be..
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  #11  
Old 2014-06-10, 11:01am
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There is another thread started by Tink Martin - http://www.lampworketc.com/forums/sh...electroforming.

Give this a read through for some help. I wish I had more concrete answers for you but electroforming is not an exact science in my opinion. I have had successes and failures but there is nothing different about my setup. Right now I'm struggling with the copper conductive paint from Rio. My pieces are not electroforming. I have had much better success with paint from Safer Solutions.
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  #12  
Old 2014-06-11, 6:19pm
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Here are a couple of pieces that have been left in the bath for many hours:

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  #13  
Old 2014-06-11, 11:24pm
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I really love the texture in those Hayley! And the color (natural patina?) is beautiful too, goes with the texture well, it gives a vintage feel.

I changed my approach and instead of doing one really long bath, I do 3-4 hours, the copper is usually still smooth, then I smooth it out and shine it with my dremel sanding disk/brass brush combo and put it in the bath again for another layer and just build it up like that. It obviously takes more work, but at least I'm not sitting around waiting, haha. I'm hoping for more consistent results this way, will see how it goes
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