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Dragonflies. Switch Plates and My Foray into Home Decor
July 24th, 2009MusingsMegan 12 Comments

I recently started etching metal again after a year long hiatus. What prompted me to delve into the world of ferric chloride was a dragonfly sighting. I was in a taxi driving up 6th avenue a few weeks ago when I looked out the window and saw a dragonfly soaring along side the car. I was stunned—I’ve never seen a dragonfly in the city! Its speed matched the cab so I could truly study its wing structure; anyone passing by at that moment would have seen a crazed, red haired woman with her hands and face pressed up against the glass to get a better look.I told this story to my lovely friend, Birdia, who asked me, “What do you think the dragonfly was trying to tell you?” Good question! I decided that it was telling me that anything can happen in a day, or wonders never cease. Another friend said that she thought it wanted to inspire a piece of jewelry. I felt that was a great interpretation and decided to make it a reality.

There are many ways to etch metal, but I use ferric chloride and sharpie markers to create the design. I came up with a dragonfly and Art Nouveau pattern and spen
t a good three hours drawing directly on to the metal. In the midst of this I also decided to etch a copper, light switch plate with my Tree of Life motif.

I’ll cut to the end: the dragonfly pattern completely dissolved into the acid, something I’d never had happen before in over a decade. I couldn’t imagine what happened! Unbeknownst to me, the Sharpie company has started manufacturing regular pens along with their markers. I, unfortunately, used a pen to create the dragonfly design. I learned a powerful lesson: always, always check the packaging!

On the upside, I used a marker to create the Tree of life design and the switch plate turned out better than I ever imagined. I am now officially in the world of home décor!

I haven’t given up on the dragonfly piece, but after two other failed attempts it’s proved itself to become quite a challenge. Birdia responded to this by saying, “My dear Megan. you know? Perhaps they are trying to be difficult because they want to be special in your eyes and remembered by you more than anything else! :)”.


'12 Responses to “Dragonflies. Switch Plates and My Foray into Home Decor”'
  1. elineof says:

    Wow, it’s stunning! Your work is really beautiful!

    Best wishes,

  2. Megan Steer says:

    Thank you so much, Eline! I really appreciate that.

  3. sue says:

    beautiful work, and I am sure the dragon fly really does want others to see. Am looking forward to seeing the dragonfly in full flight.

  4. Megan Steer says:

    Oh, Sue, thank you! I’m really looking forward to seeing them, too. Hopefully it will be sooner rather than later.

  5. Georgia says:

    Megan, thank you so much for stopping by my blog and for your wonderful comments, which brought me to your blog and discovered your beautiful and impressive creations in your etsy shop! Love all your jewelry and your switch plates!!!

    All the best to you.

  6. kerin rose says:

    Oh my…this story gave me absolute chills…
    and i so agree with your wise friend Birdia!….its like when you travel and take all these photos and print em, and I dunno, somehow when you look at it all on paper it falls a little flat ( at least for me!)…its just never like that moment when you see something and are THERE and it catches your breath and stops your heart for a moment…

    I WANT one of those switchplates!…truly madly deeply!

  7. kerin rose says:


    I gave you a blog award!…stop by my blog to pick it up!….( got your email and will respond to that separately! 🙂
    ox K

  8. Megan Steer says:

    Kerin, I’m so honored! I’m going to send you an email later.

    Georgia, I think about your beautiful painting– the colors are haunting. Thank you so much.

  9. wow these are beautiful. You are very talented!!!

  10. Megan Steer says:

    Thank you Rolfe– I know that is a major compliment coming from you!

  11. Lana says:

    Awesome stuff! I would love to try etching, but I’m scared of the chemicals! 🙁 I bought some glass etching stuff once, but the warnings on the packaging looked so scary I’m a little afraid to use it… :p I love the Sharpie idea though, I didn’t realise you could do that!

    Beautiful work, keep it up! 🙂


  12. Megan Steer says:

    Lana, thank you so much! I know what you mean about the chemicals. I use the ferric chloride simply because it is one of the safer ones (i.e. you won’t be burned if you get it on your skin)– you can buy it at Radio Shack.

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