To Etch or Not To Etch – Chase Designs

23 10 2007

I have been a full time lampwork bead maker since January of 2005.  Since that time I have etched only a handful of my beads.  Etching beads is fairly simple, you either dip them in an acid etching solution or you can tumble them in rock tumbler with some silicon carbide.  So far I have only tried the acid etching method.

In the beginning, I just loved the way etched beads looked; so silky and matte.  I was dying to get my hands on some etching liquid.  Then I actually saw some etched beads in person and got to touch them.  I was repelled by the feel of etched beads.  It felt like a chalk board to me.  Disappointment set in.

Nearly a year went by, with me dead set against etching anything.  I just could not get over that feeling.  Then one day I received a seahorse bead by Kimberly Affleck.   She makes the most wonderful  beads.  Mine was etched.  It had the softest feel to it.  I was shocked and amazed.  No chalk board feel.  How in the world does she do that?  She told me, but I don’t want to divulge her trade secret, if it is a secret.

Another method, I have since learned that is that if neutralize your acid etched beads in milk after etching them, it gives a soft silky smooth finish.  Susan Sheehan passed on that tidbit to me.  It really works too.  So now I am able to etch my beads without fear.

That still doesn’t answer the question to etch or not though does it?  There are some designs that I feel benefit from etching.  One of my favorite things to do is to etch only the base of my dragon beads.  It gives texture to the base, but still the dragon shines on.  To do this I paint clear nail polish over the area I want to stay shiny and then dip the whole bead in the etching solution.  After I am done, it just peels right off and keeps that area unetched.

Etching is also good for colors that like to take on metallic sheens, or metals that come to the surface while working the glass in the flame, such as moretti copper green or turquoise. The etching solution will take off the metal deposits.  This dragon has a turquoise base.

Etching can brighten up or soften the look of a bead.  It can change the colors very dramatically and can sometimes turn a ugly bead into something beautiful.  So a good rule is, if I don’t like my bead, try etching it.  You never know what might happen.  




3 responses

23 10 2007

Gorgeous beads 🙂

23 10 2007

I love etched beads…some beads just scream to be etched, don’t they!

30 10 2007

I learn something new all the time! I had no idea there were etched beads! Great article!


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