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Topic: Etched metal cover mini book charm/pendents  (Read 13072 times)
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« on: April 04, 2013 04:15:34 PM »

I have been making mini books in various forms for the past year, and this is probably one of my favourites.  When I posted the first edition of this, some Craftster members expressed an interest in a tutorial, so I have been working on one for a bit.  This was going to be posted on my blog, when this challenge came up, so I am going to post it here instead, as my first ever challenge entry.

I hope it makes sense, and you all like it - but warning, it is seriously picture ZAFTIG.

This tute was made when I made my Rapunzel minibook, for the Month of Odd Holidays swap recently.

Here is the first metal covered one I made recently, in a smaller size for a pendant.

For the metal etched cover and hinges
  • sheet copper or brass, 22-24 gauge
    pure copper or brass decorative hinges
    metal cutters/shears
    fine steel wool, or fine grit sand paper
    metal file
    rubbing alcohol
    Ferric chloride acid
    Sharpie marker, black
    Staz On or Ranger Archival ink, black
    or toner printed images on PnP paper, or presentation/brochure paper
    heat tool with transfer point (if using the toner printed images)
    silicone sheet (like for lining cookie sheets for baking)
    duct tape
    cotton pads, paper towels, scrap cotton fabric, newspaper
    disposable gloves
    shallow plastic trays (like a dollar store food container)
    baking soda
    patina solution
    Renaissance Wax
    Safety glasses
    nylon hammer
    steel block

This can be pretty messy, and you are dealing with sharp metal bits, and acid, so wear gloves, safety glasses, and protect your work surface with paper or plastic bags.

Take your sheet metal and measure out the size of your covers with the ruler, marking with the Sharpie, and cut out at least two with the metal shears.

Cut wings of the decorative hinge off of the hinge portion with the shears (the book will be too thick to effectively use this hinge).

Cutting the metal may cause a but of curving/distortion of the metal, so flatten it out gently, using the nylon hammer on the steel block.

Using the shears, snip off the corners, and blunt down any sharp edges, and burrs with the metal file.

Using the steel wool, or fine sandpaper (I prefer the steel wool), smooth out the edges further, and finely sand the surfaces to remove the finish, and give it slight tooth for the image to adhere to.

Here you can see the difference between a sanded piece (left) and the prefinished brass (right).

Soak a cotton pad with alcohol and clean the metal pieces to remove finger prints and any debris, allow to dry

There are many ways to transfer an image onto the metal for etching.  You can print toner images onto presentation/brochure paper, or PnP paper (for making etched circuit boards), and apply them with heat to the metal, and remove the backing paper (I use the silicone cooking sheet, and my bench block to protect my work surface when I do this).  The tower image on the cover of the book was an illustration for Rapunzel by A. H. Watson.  I copied, and re-sized the image onto PnP paper, and heat transferred it onto the metal as per the instructions.  Remember that when you print and then apply, that the image should be printed in the reverse of what you want the end result to be.  The hinges were stamped, and the back cover was a combination of Sharpie marker drawing, PnP transfer of the words, and stampings.  Whatever is covered by ink/toner will be unetched.  Be careful not to handle the surface of the piece when applying the image, as your finger prints could prevent a good transfer or image stamping.

To protect the metal on the edges and the back from being accidentally etched, cover with a layer of Sharpie marker

Place a long piece of duct tape (long enough to dip the middle into the bottom of the tray without touching it, and overhang your plastic tray edges), and lay it on your work surface, sticky side up.  Place the metal pieces on the middle of the strip of tape, image sides up.

Carefully pour a shallow layer of acid into a plastic tray.  Lift the duct tape up by the short edges, invert, and gently dip into the tray, so that the metal pieces are all submerged in the acid, but not touching the bottom of the tray.  Adhere the edges of the tape to the tray edge to hold in place.  Allow to sit in the solution until the pieces are etched to your satisfaction.  A new solution can etch in about 30 minutes.  The acid can be reused, but used solution will take longer to etch the metal.

In another tray, place a thick layer of baking soda.  In another tray, a solution of water and baking soda.  I eyeball this, but the solution has enough baking soda that the soda no longer dissolves.  I just want something that will help neutralize the acid and clean the metal a bit.

After the etch is as deep as you want it (you can feel with gloved fingers, and see it as well), gently remove the pieces from the acid, remove from the tape backing, and place them into the baking soda.  This will neutralize the acid (you will see bubbling when this happens).

Then dip it into the water/baking soda solution and use your fingers to rub the solution gently on the piece to neutralize further and clean off some of the toner/ink.

This will not remove all the ink/toner, so take a cotton pad soaked with acetone, and clean the metal pieces with this.

It does a great job removing any remaining black off the metal, especially in nooks and crannies

Here are your freshly etched, and cleaned, metal pieces

This is all well and good, but they don't seem all that impressive, right?  They look much better with some patina to highlight the etching.  I prefer using a patina solution to age the metal.  You could also use paint, or glazes like Vintaj glazes, or even a layers of ink - just experiment to see what you like.

Anyways, I like Jax, and would pour a small amount into a container, and immerse my pieces in it until they become dark.

Gently sand off some of the patina to highlight the etched pieces until you are satisfied with the appearance.

Rub on some Renaissance Wax all over the surfaces of the metal pieces to preserve and seal the patina.  After letting it sit a couple of minutes, buff gently with a cotton cloth.  It helps to preserve, and also has a nice sheen as well.

For the embossed leather spine

(I took this off a tute I made for embossing leather on my blog)

  • embossing and die cutting machine and platform (like a Cuttlebug, or Big Shot)
    embossing folder
    water in a mister
    leather pieces (not suede)
    small eyelets
    eyelet setting tool
    steel block
    metal pliers
    metal jump rings
    punches for metal/leather
    rivet setting tool or rivetting hammer
    rivets, and decorative brads

Cut a small piece of leather and lightly spritz a light amount of water on the raw side. 

Smooth the water out to evenly moisten the leather piece

Place the leather in between an embossing folder

Make a sandwich with the embossing machine platforms, as directed by the manufacturer of your particular embossing/diecutting machine.  Run it through the machine until the leather is sandwiched in between the rollers of the machine. 

Leave it there for several hours.  I left it while I slept.  Then remove from the machine, and embossing folder.

The leather will be deeply embossed, but still damp.  Allow to dry.

Cut a small piece of leather slightly longer than the length of the book covers, wide enough to allow for the thickness of your pages, and overlapping the front and back covers, with enough space in the middle to set an eyelet.  You may need to lay out your cover pieces with the leather to figure this out.

To make the cover

Using a small metal punch (I used a 1.8mm one), punch two holes through the hinge pieces where you want to set the rivets.  Lay out your pieces of leather and metal to the configuration of the book, as you want it.  I sandwich the leather between the metal pieces for greater hold/security. 

Use a fine tip sharpie, or light coloured marker to mark the holes of the hinge piece on the leather, so you can punch holes to correspond through the leather.  Repeat with the leather pieces and the cover.  Note, if you have a longer decorative hinge, like on the second book, you may want to gently bend the hinge pieces with pliers for a closer fit to the actual metal cover, and then mark and punch the aligning holes in the leather and covers - it just looks nicer.

Now you should have holes that align through all three pieces.

Rivet the pieces together

If you find that the ends of the leather are a bit too loose and messy looking, especially if the hinge piece doesn't cover the corners, then punch small holes in the corners of the leather, through the cover underneath, and place more rivets or brads through them to hold the corners down.  I like a the brads for something a bit different from the rivets.

Punch a hole in the centre, approximately an eighth of an inch from the top of the piece of leather, and set an eyelet in that hole.  Using the pliers, open a jumpring and run it through the eyelet, and close it.

To make the pages for the book

  • Cardstock, decorative paper
    paper scissors
    exacto blade
    bone folder
    scoring board
    decorative stamps - or whatever you want to decorate the pages with
    fine sharp needle
    fine thread
    binder clamps
    glue (my go to here is Beacon 527 - but you probably can use craft glue)

Measure paper so that it is lightly smaller than the height of the covers, and slightly smaller than double the width of the covers.  Cut several pieces.  Don't worry about being super precise at this point, as you may need to trim them later.

Using the scoring board and bone folder, score down the centre of each page

Decorate the pages at will - here I stamped them and hand-wrote on them.  You could print directly on the pages before cutting them, or use toner transfer images, etc.  Decoupaged images can become tacky though and the pages sometimes can stick together.  Also keep in mind that you may need to trim the edges of the pages later, so try to keep the image centred on the pages.

The second set of pages were done with toner transferred images, which were printed with a laser printer.

cut another piece of cardstock to be the inside lining cover of the book.  Wrap that around the pages.  You will ultimately want it to be slightly larger than the finished inside pages, but slightly smaller than the outer cover.

Fold the inside pages together in the order you want them, and use the needle and thread to hand bind them together.  There are many sites on the internet that give good instructions on how to sew journals and books that are helpful with this.  I used fine Nymo, a beading thread, that was treated with Thread Heaven to help keep it slick and prevent fraying, and a fine beading needle - I have lots of both.

After they are sewn together, fit in the inside cover, and the entire lot of cardstock pages and cover inside the metal cover, and adjust the cardstock pieces, and trim to fit.  Give the pages a finished look by inking the edges.

I swear to you, we are almost done!

Now glue your inside pages to the inside of the cardstock cover with a thin layer of glue.  Then apply a thin layer of glue to the outside of the cardstock cover, but not the spine, and attach that to the inside of the metal covers.  Clamp with binder clamps to to set and dry.

Yes, it is labour intensive, with lots of little steps - but the end result is uber-cute.  At least I think so.

I hope that those of you who were interested in making these find this helpful, and the rest of you now want to to try it.  Most of all, I hope that these instructions are actually helpful - please let me know if anything needs clarification!

« Reply #1 on: April 04, 2013 05:16:28 PM »

WOW!!!  That's a lot of work but the result is so amazing!!  Lovely books-thank you for putting together a tutorial!

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« Reply #2 on: April 05, 2013 12:39:57 AM »

Great tutorial and beautiful tiny books.

So, I have quite a few questions:
Where do you buy Pnp paper? and ferric chloride acid? and the Jax?

Does the patina prevent the oxidation of the copper? Or is it the wax? If so, would the wax prevent copper without patina to turn green?

I did not know there were embossing machine for home use. That sounds pretty neat! I suppose they don't emboss metal, do they?
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« Reply #3 on: April 05, 2013 05:19:52 AM »

Thank you - please let me know if there are any other questions or clarifications needed - I do tend to be wordy.

Yoopidou -

I had to find PnP paper online on sites that cater to those who print and make their own circuit boards - I think I did a search for toner transfer paper.  But to be honest, I don't plan on buying it again.  The brochure paper method works as well, and is more accessible and a mere fraction of the price of the PnP paper.  I am working on some tutorials for metal etching on my blog using the brochure paper and I think I linked above to the first time I used it which may have some info that could be helpful.  Here it is again in case I did not.

I got my ferric chloride acid and Jax patina at a local jewelry supplier called Lacy's Tools - and they do ship - but there are limitations on liquids.  So you may have to find a local supplier - or source other large jewelry supply companies like perhaps Rio Grande - perhaps they can recommend another brand or method.  You could also experiment with paints, coloured inks, other glazes (Vintaj makes some very colourful ones).  From what I understand in my research, the acid can be bought at places like Radio Shack, or where you can get supplies for etching circuit boards.  I had bought some before from a surplus store that catered to people like that, but the solution may have been contaminated as it failed to etch effectively.  It also comes as  a solid that you can mix with water to make your own solution, but I did not want to worry about the complications of that.  It is reusable and does not degrade in the bottle.  But be careful about disposal - it can't go down your pipes, and needs to be properly disposed of so check your local regulations.  I neutralize with lots of baking soda and have my old acid in a large plastic container which I will take to my local transfer station when it is full.

If I left the copper, it probably would still oxidize with the patina - I have never left it with just the patina.  For one thing, the patina would rub off with wear and that could be messy for wearing.  The wax is to preserve the patina, and prevent oxidization, so if you want to maintain a non-oxidized copper look, buff on/off a couple of layers of wax and it should help.

Oh yes, go ask in the paper crafting/scrapbooking forums - there are many machines made for home die cutting and embossing.  They are designed for things like cardstock, paper, thin plastics, fabrics, and craft metals.  I have been able to use things like soda can aluminum with them.  However, I would not use them for thicker gauge metal like for these, with regular embossing folders or dies - you potentially could ruin your machine/folders/dies.  I have a permanent indentation in one of my favourite embossing folders from trying 24 gauge copper.  However, on saying that, Vintaj has partnered with Sizzix to produce a number of dies and etching folders that are sturdier metal and plastic combinations, specifically designed to emboss and etch metal pieces - and I have used those in my initial experimentation with the mini books.

These were etched or embossed using those Vintaj products and the embossing machine:



This one is with the etching die


I liked them, and will still use them for projects, but am loving the acid etching method because that gives me more freedom to make my own images without relying on a premade die. 

Hope this helps!

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« Reply #4 on: April 06, 2013 10:44:17 AM »

Amazing! Acid etching has always frightened me, but you make it seem less scary. And, I had no idea I could use an embossing folder to emboss small pieces of leather. Definitely putting that in my "must try" file!

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« Reply #5 on: April 06, 2013 12:14:24 PM »

Thanks for the very thorough answers. You're the best Cheesy.

It will be easy to find the brochure paper and radioshack might save me for the ferric acid, as the shipping of liquids is often difficult here.

As for the embossing machine, I have until next Christmas to look into it. It sounds very promising.
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« Reply #6 on: April 06, 2013 07:43:07 PM »

I love mine - I actually ended up getting two.  The second one I got at a boxing day sale at Michaels, when they were 50% off and I also had a 25% off entire purchase, including sale items, so it wasn't as decadent as it sounds.

CraftAddchick - it really is not very intimidating at all - it just sounds like it, but it can be totally addictive!

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« Reply #7 on: April 07, 2013 09:58:53 AM »

I've been wanting to try metal etching! Thanks so much for the tut! It seems totally doable! Smiley

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« Reply #8 on: April 07, 2013 12:35:08 PM »

It's just sourcing out the supplies I think.

Hey - if I can do it - ANYONE can do it!

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« Reply #9 on: April 07, 2013 06:41:39 PM »

Beautiful, thanks for sharing your process.

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