Electroforming Jewelry: Equipment and Supplies for Copper Plating

Have you wanted to explore the electrifying possibilities of electroforming jewelry to create metal jewelry elements out of natural objects or keepsakes? Electroforming (also called electroplating) lets you take organic objects and coat them with a layer of real metal allowing you to use complex, natural shapes in your metal jewelry
without difficult fabrication. Anything you can find in nature can be incorporated in your pieces: from delicate seed pods to acorns to sea shells. By using some of the techniques for jewelry electroplating, you can also integrate findings like jump rings right into your electroformed jewelry to create custom, ready-to-use elements.

Join Denise Peck, editor of Step by Step Wire Jewelry and senior editor of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist, in a free video tutorial on what you need to get started electroforming jewelry; the equipment and supplies for copper plating. Whether you’re experienced at electroforming or you have yet to electroform your first piece, this free video tutorial is a must-see. Discover just how simple and accessible this process is today – anybody can do it. Watch this free video tutorial to see how you can create copper-plated organic forms for your artwork with just a rectifier, electric solution. . .objects . . . all in a small workspace.

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Learn how to create unique jewelry by silver-plating, gold-plating, nickle-plating or copper-plating with this free video.

With informative tips and detailed explanation of equipment needed for electroforming jewelry, this free video tutorial will help you develop the skills to help you get started creating unique pendants with electroforming.

When electroforming a piece of organic material, the item (referred to as a cathode) needs to be hung inside the beaker so that particles from the copper wire and copper electroplating solution form to the organic piece. An 8 or 10 gauge copper wire is readily available at any hardware store. You’ll need distilled water nearby to rinse the cathode after electroforming, because regular tap water can distort the colors of the metal. Other helpful supplies needed to electroform include a device to suspend your cathode into the solution over the beaker and water-based lacquer to coat your item for electroforming.


Learn how to anneal half hard wire with your mini torch.

Copper Electroplating Equipment

A rectifier is an electrical device that converts alternating current from your house to a direct current which flows in only one direction. House current is way too strong and will burn the pieces that you’re electroforming. Low voltage output and low current output is needed for electroforming jewelry. Rectifiers are easy to find and even come with one setting for voltage and current where adjustment is not needed.


Copper Electroplating Equipment
Copper Electroforming Solution

A copper electroforming solution makes the electric current from a rectifier move in the beaker. Electroforming solution is necessary to electroform the metal particles to the organic object. If you’re electroforming jewelry from a metal other than copper: electroforming solutions are required for silver plating, gold plating and nickel plating. All solutions have particles of the metal suspended in the solution except for a copper plating solution. Copper plating is the only process in which metal particles from a piece of copper (anode) are being deposited to an organic object instead of from a liquid solution alone. The anode is suspended into the beaker and solution. In order to get a bright and shiny piece of copper jewelry, the anode you’re using for copper electroplating needs to be a clean, polished piece of copper. You’ll learn the benefits of using a spiraled piece of copper wire as your anode to ensure full coverage to the piece you’re electroforming.


Copper Electroplating Equipment
Object to Electroform (Cathode)

Explore the possibilities and have fun collecting organic objects to transform into jewelry elements. A cathode doesn’t have to be an organic piece; it can be plastic or glass. You can even take a piece that is already metal and electroform to be a custom jewelry element. Metal will not attach to an organic piece unless it also conducts electricity. Specific steps must be followed to properly prepare an object for electroforming. Any organic material you wish to electroform must be covered in several coats of lacquer, because the electroforming solution can damage the cathode.

Stream this video to learn about the supplies necessary for jewelry electroplating, and the basics of the process.

Electroforming techniques can be used for gold plating, nickel plating and silver plating as well as copper plating–which is covered more in detail in this free video tutorial. Denise explains each piece of electroforming equipment and what each is used for. She also covers the basic process of electroforming to get you started, because it’s important to know some of the electrical details whenever you’re working with electrical equipment.