28 December 2008

Electrolytic Saltwater Etching of Copper

Results from electrolytic saltwater etching of copper

In my days at a semiconductor capital equipment company I made a lifelong friend. When we first met, she was a "process" engineer who etched the dielectric material on silicon wafers; then she etched conductive materials; then she was a product support engineer, et cetera.

A month ago I showed her the Art Jewelry magazine article on etching copper, nickel silver, brass and other materials in a salt water solution using a D cell battery. As an etcher, she was very interested. She'd never etched at home. Her current company (where they have a chemical that etches metal in only 20 seconds) is on holiday break, so this week she's free to come out and play.

Play we did - in our nerdy way. The local Radio Shack had only one single D cell battery holder, prompting an etching experiment. I purchased the single D holder, and also holders for a single C and two Cs.

We placed
two sets of copper anodes and cathodes in almost identical etch setups at the same time. The main differences between the two was the number of C batteries and the resist designs on the copper.

Loooooook at the difference in the water color after a few minutes. The double C setup skipped the blue-green water phase and headed right to the orange water phase of the process. After five minutes the copper had significantly etched. After an hour, the copper was more than ready to be taken out. The single C battery tub etched much slower; after 2 hours the depth of the etch was still shallower than the 1 hour double C etch.

We etched both sides of the anode and purposely ignored recommendations to duct tape the edges - as you can see on Ben's piece at the far left.

Next time the process will be tweaked a little. Some rubber cement on the lead to the anode. Alligator clips instead of twisted and wrapped wires. Perhaps try a new type of metal. Duct tape on the edges. And, we'll measure the voltage and current from the single and double C setups and compare to the recommended single D setup.

By the way, we were shocked not to find a molecular orbital diagram of the process on wikipedia! ;-)

24 December 2008

Calder Jewelry Exhibit at the Met

Friend and fellow jewelry artist, Pat Accorinti, forwarded me a link to a New York Times article about the Calder Jewelry exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC. I especially enjoyed the slide show with closeups of ten Calder pieces.

20 December 2008

Whale Shark!

Until last week, the longest I'd ever seen a whale shark is twelve seconds over eight years ago. I know this because that's exactly how long the video of my first whale shark encounter is.

After the last dive of the trip last week, the boat captain starting yelling down to us as we were heading back to the beach. We looked over the side and saw a whale shark right below the boat. The 20 foot long creature hung out for a while about 15 feet below the surface as we snorkeled above it. Awesome!

You can now access the whale shark video from 2000, and other trip video and slide shows, over on the right hand side of this blog.

Patina Expeirment Results

As promised...here are some photos of the brass bracelet and copper piece I was experimenting with in October.

I left the brass bracelet in the fuming container much longer than recommended, and the colored patina you saw in October washed off. Now that I've pushed that patina past it's time limit, I'll revisit it again someday and see how long to fume it so the blue greens stay.

The moist sorrel washed off leaving nice colors on the copper sample.

My favorite new copper patina is shown below on flat and hammered copper samples. The fuming recipe is comprised of sea salt, cream of tartar, vinegar, and ammonia.

You'll be able to read more about the cream of tartar patina in my "Accessible Patinas" article in the upcoming zine which Catherine Witherell and
Deryn Mentock are publishing. They are busy compiling all the articles together now for a January release. More details to come.

Another fun result from the copper patina experiments is a mottled blue / green from sal ammoniac and tobacco. The results lead me to wonder what would happen if I ground up the tabacco even finer before this immersion process.

Here's a closeup look at the flat piece after rinsing

15 December 2008

Lireille Gallery of Contemporary Jewelry and Art

Today I met with Yan Liu, co-owner of Lireille Gallery of Contemporary Jewelry and Art. If you stop by Lireille Gallery, you can now see seventeen of my necklaces, 30 pairs of earrings, and 20 rings. If you'd like a preview of my art work at Lireille Gallery, I created a catalog of the items in the gallery and posted it on my website on the gallery page.

One of the two new rings I created the night before is shown below. I took my cast sterling bottleneck ring design and applied texture and patina. The liver of sulfur left a very in
teresting purplish pink color in the grooves after the ring was cleaned in the ultrasonic. The flush set stones are 2mm and 2.5mm white topaz. (sorry for the picture quality - I should have left time for a photo session.) If you'd like a better look - it's in the Lireille Gallery.

I also took the same Bottleneck design in sterling silver, with the same textured finish, left it unpatinated and flush set 2mm peridot stones.

I like playing with the finishes and patinas. Which reminds me, I promised some more of my patina experiment pics in an earlier post which I'll get to soon.

Here's the rainbow over 880 seen on my way to Lireille Gallery.

14 December 2008

Landmarks, Tanker and Tug Boats, and the Fog

Another beautiful fall day in San Francisco, with three city landmarks as seen from the end of Pier 8.

The tanker and tug boats passing below the bay bridge remind me of something from long ago - the colors are just right. I think the memory is from an old childrens book which has a tanker drawing covering two pages in the middle of the book.

At 3 pm, as the sun still shines brightly, the fog is starting to take back it's hold on the city.

11 December 2008

the News

I headed over the the CNN website to find out about tonight's "Planet in Peril" show highlighting the 100 million to 10 death toll in the man vs shark war, and saw this headline: "World's corals reefs are vanishing, report says".

While I'm glad our largest eco system (oceans cover 2/3rds of our world's surface) is in the news, I wish the news was positive. Maybe the show tonight will discourage shark fin soup eaters once they know the devastation and cruelty that each bowl of soup has caused. I look forward to reading a news article about the lack of demand worldwide for shark fin soup.

07 December 2008

Nice New Venue

Here's a look at my booth at The Virgin Artists Show & Sale. So many people have told us what a nice venue this is. Fourteen artists and a couple of tables for the refreshments all fit in here nicely. OK - time to get back there for the noon opening today.

06 December 2008

New Earrings

I spent most of the day yesterday creating 22 new pairs of earrings with textures I'd taken on the Yucatan Peninsula. I especially like the fine silver pieces that look like coral and urchin shells. Here's a sample of the pieces:

Now it's time to pack up all the new earrings and head over to The 6th Annual Virgin Artists Show & Sale for today and tomorrow.

03 December 2008

A Beach Full of Other People's Trash

On Monday night I cruised a beach on the Yucatan Peninsula looking for dead coral for making texture molds. In the picture below you'll see some of the pieces I found. And, *look* at all the sea glass I found. I was so excited I had to limit myself to picking up the less common colors.

Sure, I picked up a few dark brown and Heineken green, but look at all the light green and bluish green pieces! Other people's trash are now my treasures. The ideas for necklaces and rings and bracelets made with these pieces are swimming in my head. I wish I had more time before this weekend's show so I could make some of them. I'll let you know when I do and show you some pictures.

30 November 2008

Clear Water, Clear Mind

SCUBA diving in clear warm water clears my mind, and a result I have new ideas for some earrings to create for this next weekend's The Virgin Artists' 6th Annual Show and Sale in Cupertino.

Look at the lush coral landscape in this minimally impacted area of the Carribean.

And, views like this when I'm above the water sure help!

Code request

21 November 2008

Coral: Slow, Beautiful, and Precious

I ran across the Too Precious to Wear website today http://www.tooprecioustowear.org/
I think the site does a nice job of providing an overview of the affect that coral collecting has; both scientifically and on the local economies. The site also provides a list of alternatives to using coral.

Those of you who know me already know that the sea environment is important to me. A trip to Cocos Island years ago highlighted the difference in fish and crustacean populations in a managed marine reserve vs. the open fishing which goes on in most of our oceans. The marine reserve around Cocos was lush relatively speaking, but our dive guide who'd been visiting for 20 years said that even the reserve was far less lush than it had been in the past. The creatures go in and out of the reserve, and many are fished and can't come back.

On several trips to Belize over the years, I've noticed the dwindling coral populations and the decline in reef fish populations. Since the fish help the coral by cleaning off algae and the coral are often the nurseries for the fish, when one or both are affected, both populations decline.

Growing at rates of 0.6 cm - 3.9 cm / year, the colonies of tiny animals known collectively as coral are very vulnerable to man made disruptions. And, since they are animals (not just the calcified shells of these animals that people collect in their homes once they are dead), I prefer to leave them alone. My jewelry is designed to showcase their beauty and share the experience of seeing coral without using coral directly.

I travel with molding compound and sit on the beach with dead coral, shells and lava bits I gather from the beach. I mold these natural objects so I can take their textural beauty home with me. When I'm finished molding the coral, shells and lava bits, I put them back where I found them so that nature can continue on with it's processes. The bits eventually decompose, but in the meantime they can be homes for tiny creatures.

Once I'm back home, I use the molded textures in my creations, and all these years later I'm still amazed by the variety of shapes I find. I'm also amazed by the similarities I can find in coral textures from different parts of the world.

I've include two pictures that show some of the coral diversity I've found and incorporated into my jewelry. The "Modern Cameo" line of jewelry as seen in "Craters" at the top of this post, ask the question "What's more precious? The profile of a person you don't know in a traditional cameo, or nature?"

If you're interested in the science, you can read more about coral growth rates at these sites:



If you'd like to see more coral textures in fine silver, check out my website: http://sherrycordova.com/

20 November 2008

Hydraulic Press Demo

At last weekends Metal Arts Association of Silicon Valley meeting we watched a demonstration of the Hydraulic Press by local artist and educator Edith Sommer.

Here are some of her aluminum dies and resulting copper forms, along with some of her other tricks such as gasket rubber to make the shape deeper and wire taped to cardboard for embossing.

Edith Sommer demonstrating the hydraulic press

18 November 2008

Summer in the City

View of the Cliff House from sea level

There's nothing like a November day that feels like summer with clear skys and temps in the high 70s and low 80s. :) And, it was on the first day I've spent time in this part of Golden Gate Park - right on the beach. Soooo perfect.


WPA Murals in the Beach Chalet

A Beach Chalet "Sand Castle"

Some friends, who are fellow jewelry artists, and I visited the San Francisco Museum of Craft and Design on Sutter St. We viewed the jewelry exhibits, participated in the toy jewelry / photo exhibit, and made some jewelry out of toys.

Catherine Witherell and her toy jewelry creation

Patrik Kusek and his toy ring

Pat Accorinti and her pipe cleaner and button necklace

13 November 2008

Updated the Website for an Upcoming Show

I've been very busy lately updating the website for my upcoming group show with The Virgin Artists. Fellow artist Adea Fong created new buttons for the artists joining the show this year, and she also created a new button for our newest category "Home Decor." 

The site design we collaborated on 3 years ago has been nicely received and we hope you enjoy checking it out. We've freshened up a few of the general information pages with images from our artists that Adea has added text to. It's really nice to have a graphic artist help us look as professional online as we do in person.

In this 6th year of the art show and sale we'll have fourteen artists, 3 of whom have never sold their work before. Eight of the artists are returning from last year. All the artists live in the San Francisco Bay Area and create their art by hand themselves. We have artists who create art jewelry, art glass, ceramics, gourds, home d├ęcor objects, and fiber arts.

If you've enjoyed the show in the past, you'll notice that we have a new venue and new show days. We've listened to your feedback, and are holding the show on Saturday and Sunday December 6th and 7th from noon - 6pm.

Our new show location is
The Institute for the Study of Western Civilization, located at 10060 Bubb Rd, Cupertino, 95014.

08 November 2008

Bactrian Treasures, Velvet da Vinci, Maya Lin, YSL, and Stanford Taiko

Friday was a gorgeous fall day in San Francisco.  Clear skies and warmer than average temps were much appreciated in our day spent out and about in the city.

In the back of my mind, I knew there was a  mint in SF; and I had visited mints in other cities. Friday I noticed the fortress-like SF Mint for the first time just as public transportation was rolling by.

The Bactrian Treasures at the Asian Art Museum were worth the visit. They were made of very high karat gold, and made with different techniques. Many were made of sheet, many were created with the repousse' and chasing technique, and some looked cast (although the descriptions on technique were often missing from the descriptions.) The pieces had great range, with the clearest garnet cabachons I've seen, inlaid turqoise, and elaborate sword decorations.

The crown shown on the National Geographic site for this exhibition can be taken apart and laid almost flat; fueling conjecture that the crown was worn by a nomadic princess.

The Pendant Show and re-invented recycled jewelry of the Radical Jewelry Makeover sponsored by Ethical Metalsmiths are accompanied by an exhibition of Jillian Moore's new work at Velvet da Vinci. The friendly staff at the gallery was very informative about the jewelry makeover project. 

At the De Young Museum, Maya Lin's installation art, Yves Saint Laurent's artwork, Ruth Asawa's hanging wire sculptures, and a view from the tower at the de Young Museum were capped off with a listen to the Stanford Taiko groups first two songs.

The Academy of Sciences as seen from the tower of the De Young Museum.

Maya Lin's "2x4 Landscape" installation in the lobby of the De Young reminded me of favelas.

If you know if anyone wore this YSL wedding dress, I'd be interested to know who it was.

Having learned Ruth Asawa's basic technique from Nancy Banks at a Metal Arts Association of Silicon Valley meeting this year, it was very nice to see Ruth's work in person. 

The Stanford Taiko group performed in front of Maya Lin's installation inside the De Young Museum.

01 November 2008

Going Vertical

Thanks to Richard Hart. His Aug 2007 Ganoksin post for the idea to create a custom flex shaft hanging stand with hardware store parts has come to life. We spent some time in the plumbing aisle at the hardware store (believe it or not - only 1 trip!) and made Richard's idea come to life in our garage today.

I was sooooo tired of the old stand banging the flex shaft into the wall, that I traded it with a friend last month for a stationary stand for the "real" workbench. That left a void in the 'dirty' working area of the garage, and the new industrial looking hanging system fits in well.

With 3 preset adjustable heights and 3 spots to hang the flex shaft on the cross member, I'm all set. The shelf bracket is already coming in handy as a place to hang the rubber fish pen. :-) Now I'll be able to find my pen, the cut-anything-rough cutters, as well as the copper tongs for the nearby pickle.

Halloween Candy - Eye Candy

On Halloween, friends and I admired the work of Michael Zobel and Peter Schmid of Atelier Zobel. Both designer/owners were at de Novo gallery in Palo Alto for a trunk show.  The artists are as enthusiastic about their work as the rest of us are.

31 October 2008

Visit to the Cantor Center

On the day before All Hallows' Even, I spent the afternoon with a friend at Stanford's Cantor Center for the Arts. We viewed the exhibit of Diebenkorn drawings and paintings of Santa Cruz Island. Santa Cruz Island is one of the Channel Islands off the coast of CA.

Also on exhibit were contemporary glass pieces, inspired by older Italian, Greek and other pieces.

In very comfortable craftsmen style chairs upstairs in the museum, we watched some great cloud action above the campus.

Afterwards, we headed over to the nearby Allied Arts Guild to view the work of some local artists. These flowers caught our eye.

26 October 2008

Fave New Book

I'm loving the book "The Colouring, Bronzing and Patination of Metals" by Richard Hughes and Michael Rowe. (Click on the title to see the book.)

Since I'm more of a "thanks for the suggested starting point" type of person, for the most part I'm using the endless patina recipes in the book as a very nice place to start. Here are a couple of the things I've learned....

When you boil sorrel in water to obtain the oxalic acid, and use the water with some of the now sad looking sorrel, you'll see the copper in this type of blue mess after about a week:

Stay tuned for more photos of what the pieces look like after they've been cleaned off.

Find the Sailboat

Sunny Cove, Santa Cruz, CA

Hungry for Hawaiian?

25 October 2008

Passion Flower