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! :)”.