Catalysis Jewelry-The Process of Electroforming

The pieces created by Catalysis Jewelry are comprised of real specimens from nature and include everything from insects and flowers to animal bones and tree bark. Each object has been collected and lovingly considered for it’s shape and being. They are rescued from dust and decay and turned into something treasured, a monument of nature. Each object is coated in copper, a warm, beautiful element that changes color as it reacts to its environment. It allows the wearer to carry a little bit of nature wherever they go. Some pieces, such as a single leaf or cone, are simple statements, a lovely fragment of nature to be admired for its structure and detail. Others are assembled, combining elements to tell a story. Each piece is as unique as the element of nature that lay inside its copper walls. It is an opportunity to wear your conversation piece.

 

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.