Sunday, May 6, 2012

Etching Gold Leaf

I just finished a special order that was fun, a challenge, and a learning experience (doesn't it always go that way?)!  I attempted to acid etch sets of beads that had been decorated on the surface with gold leaf.  I had success with some glass types, and here are my results:
Purple etched and gold leaf beads
Effetre Dark Purple Handmade
Anice white and gold leaf etched glass beads
Effetre Anice White
CiM Canyon de Chelly glass beads
CiM Canyon de Chelly
Ivory and gold leaf etched lampwork beads
Effetre Dark Ivory
Mosaic green etched lampwork glass beads
Effetre Mosaic Green

The challenge is that the gold leaf etches right off with the glass in the etch bath!  By cutting my etch time down from a usual 3 minutes to 1 minute and 15 seconds, I was able to get a good etch on the glass and preserve most of the gold.

I learned that some glasses etch faster than others, like Canyon de Chelly and Ivory, making it harder to get gold leaf to stay on these glasses.  And gold leaf stains Ivory glass a beautiful golden brown color which is a nice contrast with the shiny gold leaf.

I tried decorating some transparent colors with gold leaf and etching them, but transparents usually give me a spotty, incomplete etch, so these sets didn't work out.  Sandblasting or tumbling would etch transparent glass, but my gold leaf would definitely not have survived that onslaught!

Have a great beady week peeps!


SueBeads said...

They are gorgeous! I have never tried etching gold leaf since it's so expensive, so thanks for being the guinea pig and the lesson!

Gardanne said...

You are an angel, I just purchased some gold leaf and wanted to play. I have been tumble etching my beads I will let you know if that makes a difference for better or worse.

Karolen said...

Thanks Sue and Gardanne!
I'm so curious if the gold leaf survives the tumble! Do let me know!

Another thing that helps is putting on a thicker or double layer of gold leaf. Any place the leaf was thicker on my beads tended to survive the etch better.