Catalysis Jewelry-The Process of Electroforming


The jewelry you see here has not been cast from a mold but has a thin coat of copper over an original object from nature, making each piece unique.

 

The Technical Process

The electroforming process begins by sealing the botanical item, be it a feather, flower, or cone, with two coats of varnish. The piece (referred to as a cathode) is then coated twice with a copper conductive paint and suspended by wire into a bath of electroplating solution. Several metal baskets containing solid copper balls (referred to as an anode) are lowered into the electrolyte bath. The anode and cathode are wired to an electrical power source (a rectifier). Through careful monitoring of the amps and volts, the electrical current moves ions of copper towards the negatively charged object and coats it evenly over a matter of hours.

 

 

 

Electroforming objects from nature can be very challenging due to potential organic contamination of the chemical bath, throwing off its delicate balance. The anodes are cleaned frequently and the electrolyte bath is run through a series of filters. An air bubbler is employed to increase agitation. Each piece goes through several coatings of copper after a series of procedures including drying out the botanical object inside and adding bails, rings, or other hardware. Some pieces require subtle reinforcement for strength. Following the final copper coating the piece is grinded and sanded. After polishing or applying a patina the piece goes through a varnishing process that takes several days to cure.