Step by Step: Making a Copper Etched Cuff Bracelet

Revision Date:   4-12-13

Using PnP Blue and now StazOn and Rubber Stamps
 I will keep updating this step by step as I learn new things and improvements

Get yourself some 18g Copper  or an 18g copper blank
sizing is dependant upon your wrist size.
Standard  length sizes  - 6" for Small    6.5" for Medium  and 7" for large
For my sample its 6.5"
My copper blank is 18g   1" wide by 6.5" long
If you cant get locally then Metalliferous in NY has them pre cut and for sale at a very reasonable price 
I want to make the bracelet comfortable and not have sharp corners so I take my metal shears and nip the corners.  Since copper is very soft its very easy to cut.
You can cut the corners

Or you can just file the corners - this is faster - but if you want a deep angle corner its just as easy to cut and file.  I did some with cut corners and some with just filing the corners of the copper- you do not have to be exact as you can file to correct an over cut.

With the corners cut I want to smooth them out.  I use a large file.  You do  not have to apply much pressure as again the copper is soft.  Gently start to file the corers - follow the length of the blank and start to smooth the corners.  Apply a little pressure and smooth.  Use the file to file the edges and top.

watch your fingers - you may accidently over file and hit a finger - best way is to put one of those leather finger guards on or that self sticking material (like 3m vetwrap) on the fingers just to save them from that extra hit by the file 

I now use a Foredom Bench Motor to buff off the burs and clean up the copper edges - using a fibre wheel - works wonders and makes the edges crisp and clean 

see how nice and smooth and clean the edges are 

Take some steel wool I like 0000 but all I could find this week was 000 which will work just fine.  Work the edges and surface of the copper.  You will notice the steel wool takes any burs and sharp edges off the blank and shines and cleans the surface.

when all finished they are ready for putting the etch resist on 
I like to make quite a few up and then start to put the etch resist on 

STEP 5 -  I will repeat step five below but using StazOn Stamp Pad and Rubber Stamps
Prepare your PnP Etching paper with your design.  In my case I have my Zentangle patterns

Put your PnP blue resist- face up on a cutting mat or something similar.  Place your blank on the design and cut around it.

You do not have to do it this way - but I find if I have less overhang - I have more control over the resist when applying .

Take some windex and clean one side of the blank. ( you can clean the whole thing but we will do that again later)  Try not to put your fingers on the side your going to apply the PnP resist.  Oils from your fingers can affect the adhesion

Take your cut out PnP and lay it face down on the cleaned side of the blank.

as you can see I have finger prints on the metal - I would clean with windex or buff again with my steel wool 

very little or no overhang.  More control on the resist 

Some people like to take a sheet of paper or a thin cloth between the iron and the PnP resist
I've done both - I find a sheet of unwaxed wax paper works the best for me it keeps it from melting the plastic and gives a little more control when using the iron.  I  use the max on the iron (before I was almost at high but found after trial and error that the high worked best with this iron)

What I have is an inexpensive Black and Decker iron that I bought just for this purpose. That way I dont have any build up of iron sprays etc..

Apply the iron  and hold down and heat up. I let it sit for about 45 seconds,  Go over it for a few minutes.  I rub the edges etc... and watch where the holes are in the iron and they may not have enough pressure ifyou just sit it down on the piece.   Once complete put to the side to cool

STEP 10- very important
Do not remove PnP resist until it is completely cooled.

Once cooled remove.

The New toy - Heat Press - used for making T-shirts but great for doing multiple quantities at a time of pressing the PnP blue onto the bracelet blank.  I got mine from a place local to me for under 300.00 
  • Sign Supply Canada
    6635 Kitimat Rd, Unit 42
    Mississauga, ON L5N6J2
    Phone#: 905-608-2680

I love using it - I have it down pretty good on time and pressure - max pressure set and then I put sheets of the unwaxed paper on top - the metal tends to not be perfectly flat so there are high and low points.  The bottom of the unit is rubber so it does sink in - but the extra paper ensure coverage - so full pressure and about 3 minutes does it.
as you can see in the picture these are the 1" bracelet blanks (6" long) and I could fill this up at least two dozen at a time - the 1/2" at least  4 dozen 

 If you have applied properly the areas that were black will have transfered to the Blank and be blue.  I f there are areas that did not stick you can fix with a sharpie marker, Identi-pen but  I like a product called Stop Out. which guarantees me proper resist.

STEP 11  Fixing resist:  An easy to apply resist with a pen nib or a brush.- Got this at curry's art supplies they had to order in but it only took a few days.  You can also use a sharpie permanent marker to help out if you cant get the Stop Out - evidently the Red Staedler is supposed to be better but either one works just make sure its covered-  the marker comes off easier than the stop out  for clean up .

At this point we have our blank prepared with our etching resist.


If you do not wish to use PnP Blue and it is easier to get these rubber stamp pads at your local craft store, the following will give you a resist and the ability to use rubber stamps to make your bracelet (Pendants etc.)

Stazon is a brand of stamp pad -

When applied to a rubber stamp you can stamp directly onto your clean copper piece
a really good cleaner which I should have mentioned is called Penny Brite
Cleans your copper beautifully with just a little of the penny brite and water.  I use a toothbrush on the smooth surface (you can use your fingers)  and especially when I am finished to clean out the crevices 

I apply the staz on onto the rubber stamp (in this case my rubber zentangle stamps - available on etsy (see side bar on blog)  This is a large 8-1/2 x 11 rubber stamp that I can get many patterns from 

I place the piece onto the area I want to stamp and apply a little pressure - be sure not to smudge.  I place one finger on one end and push slightly down and the other end rises - I grab and lift straight up 

This ink dries rather quickly which is nice - here are samples on other types of copper 
even copper pipe
see my blog on rolling the copper pipe 

STEP 12 Preparing your  Ferric Chloride    (I am checking out electro etching as well and will put it in this step by step when I actually do it )

Today I change my container to a glass one (that has a lid - its a baking dish that has a plastic cover- but I used plastic wrap to seal it to ensure no evaporation when I store it ) I decided I wanted to try fresh acid and also heat it.  To heat it I got out my electric fry pan and put it to warm
They say the heat should not exceed about 135 deg F.
So I Poured my acid into the glass container and turned up to warm on the dial

STEP 13  Apply the packing tape (regular packing tape) to the back of the blank (you are sticking to the side without the resist.) I like using the hand held - then I dont have it sticking to itself while I'm fumbling for scissors or a knife -  I put little tabs on the ends so I can grab them when putting into and taking out of the pan. I plan on getting some of that self sticking shelf paper to put onto the backs and use the packing tape to suspend so that my backs do not accidently get etched - also going to try some waxes etc... will let you know here if they work .

Once the tape is on we put it into the ferric chloride face down - you want it just at the surface either just touching or just under the surface to ensure its touching the ferric chloride - but dont let it touch the bottom.

I did four sets (I'll probably get my bigger tray so I can do about 8 at a time.) I did get a bigger tray and now make 8 at a time .
I left it for only  1 hour and checked it becaue this was fresh acid and I was heating - something new (make sure you wear gloves this stuff stains your fingers badly)  and sure enough fresh acid and heat had already started the etching process.  I ended up leaving for only 2 hours. cut down from 8-9 hours - makes a difference

You can check your process every once in a while to see how far it has etched and depending on what you want you can leave it longer for deeper etch. etc..
When ready - carefully take out of the acid bath and rinse straight away - my sink washed directly to the outside and not into my septic.  You will have to figure out how you want to deal with rinsing.

Nice deep etch..  The PnP blue is still on the blank.

To finish the rinsing you must neutralize the acid on the blank -
 a little baking soda diluted in water and rinse the blanks.

STEP 16 - remove the PnP blue with Acetone (You can remove the tape glue as well)

You can use paper towel or a rag - rag is better as the etch is going to rip the paper towel as you clean
Finish cleaning the front

Cleaning the back
Using Goo Gone will take away all the adhesive from the tape. (acetone will work too)
I just pour a little on each blank and rub with my finger tip (I'm in gloves)
Let it sit for a minute and the wipe off.

Cleaning up
I take my steel wool and start with the back and clean it up and get it back to a shiny finish
Then I work on the front and the sides - if the sides have some sharp edges from etching just take your file and clean up and then the steel wool.

All cleaned up

STEP 19 - options
we can seal or patina now or later - I like later after I have formed the bracelet.

Forming the bracelet
you can use forming pliers or a wood bracelet mandrel and rawhide hammer

I preform with the pliers and then use my oval wooden bracelet mandrel and rawhide hammer to form

But then I got my GRS Forming Tool - I LOVE THIS TOOL




Electro Plating
If you want to add some additional colour to your copper you can elecctro plate - Caswell has great small kits for electroplating (they are in both Canada and USA)
in this case I did some silver

Patina and finishing
I used the Gilders Paste Copper to finish - using a rag apply and make even coat and let dry for an hour

I also used liver of sulphur - gel (was first time I tried it ) was nice to work with - still stinks LOL
in hot water add and mix - add a little ammonia (helps make some nice rainbow colours on the metal) 
dip and then clean - I used sandpaper/steel wool to clean up 
darkens the deep etched areas and the sandpaper/steel wool lightens the high spots .  This you will have work on to your liking 

Try Using some coloured Patina's 
Vintaj Patinas

see this thread for further instructions

Finish by buffing and sealing (see gilders paste instructions)
 I like the Renaissance wax t - apply a coat to inside and top of bracelet and edges - let dry 
I use a dremel with a felt buff and they come up shiny and beautiful 
I also make my own wax that is similar to Renaissance wax by using beeswax pellets and naptha (you can get naptha at home depot in a tin)  you put pellets into container and pour the naptha over and it melts it.  Makes a great sealer for metal. 

But I found the BEST BEST Sealer  called Permalac EF that I am now using for everything 

In Canada they sell at 
Sculpture Supply Canada 
345 Munster Ave.
Toronto, Ontario Canada M8Z 3C6416-234-1075



  1. Thank you for the etching tutorial. I took a class and made a couple pendants and earrings components but I want to try the bracelets. I love your blog and am learning a lot.

  2. This is a great tutorial, and I love your zentangle PnP paper!

  3. Excellent tutorial and you do really nice work. Thank you. Oh, and I loved your zentangles. so much I ordered 2. : ).

  4. Wonderful tutorial - thanks for taking the time to write and share all this info.
    I use almost all the products you've highlighted - all great.
    I get my ferric chloride from the same company that sells the stop-out varnish ~ I'm fortunate to live close by.

    Can I ask where you have your rubber stamps made? Great zendangle work.

  5. after years of working copper, trying anything that comes along to improve my skill and knowledge; You have stunned me. In the last 15 minutes i have been introduced to 7 thing that will improve my work. Thank you for the help. Inspired by your work.

  6. Does anyone know if you can reuse etching mordant and if so, how do you keep it until the next time. I'm just practicing with very small pieces and thinking I'm going to go through a lot of this mordant if I have to use new each time I etch. Any thoughts? Thanks, Carolyn

    1. You can keep using it again and again, though it will get a little less effective eachtime. Be sure not to use different kinds of metal in the same batch of mordant.

  7. You have really nice information and i like to see these one! thanks for sharing on Wholesale rubber bracelets

  8. Fresh Ferric Chloride is very aggressive. I wonder if you would get such a nice deep etch on the first re-use of the bath. I am also impressed that your Sharpie stays on for the whole hour - mine washes out in less than that. That's why I re-touch with Pebeo pen. Your patinas are exquisite!

  9. Your work is amazing! Thank you so much for the tutorial.

  10. I use my etch bath multiple times then add a bit of fresh material - and still get as deep an etch - sometimes it just takes a little longer but not by much

  11. Hi Deborah,

    This is a great tutorial. As well as very nice work!

    Thank you for posting our link in your supplies section.

  12. this is really good epically the colour I love it but its just long step by step.

  13. Beautiful post, indeed! You did such a hard and good job giving and sending such detailed information all over the world! :)

  14. me ha encantado, ni en mis mejores sueños podré hacer jamás algo así, pero gracias por explicarlo tan bien

  15. Have you ever use the Electrolytic method for etching?

  16. Great pieces! How do you apply the Permalac EF sealent?

  17. Wonderful tutorial, Deborah. Thank you very much for takiing the time to share with us.

  18. OMG this is all new to me and what a GREAT tutorial! Thanks for being so willing to share your vast knowledge and art. You are special and I now want to get to ETSY and see your site there. Thanks again

  19. How did you transfer your image onto the pnp?

  20. I've read this several times and received the Zentangle stamp today ... I am so excited to be etching with this pattern.

  21. Thank you for such a terrific tutorial. I tried this process once, but your instructions were so much clearer.

  22. This is a nice informative blog in which you discuss about step by step process of making copper bracelet. Thanks for sharing this and keep sharing.

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  23. Thank you for so much information! I am brand new at this so wish me luck! I do know with the research I have done that this is one of the best I have seen. (all in one nut shell)

  24. Wow you put so much work into this tutorial and thanks! I learned so much!

  25. Gracias por compartir tu conocimiento, y sigue adelante con la bendición de nuestro creador

  26. what beautiful work.. i can't wait to try this fabulous technique.. you have created such a detailed and informative tutorial... thanks soooo much.

  27. Beautiful bracelets, and thank you for your generous supply of information! I'm wondering what you do with your Ferric Chloride. Are there issues with fumes? How do you know when it's "used up?" What do you do with it when you want to get rid of it? Thanks so much for the info.

  28. What kind of fibre wheel do you use Deborah?

  29. Thanks so much for this lesson! I'm having a helluva time with PNP. I cannot get a good impression on my copper. I checked the highest heat setting on my iron and it only goes to 200 degrees. I tried using a hotplate at 300 degrees (and burnishing the image on the hot metal from above), with little success. I'm very frustrated. I wonder if I should get a different iron???

  30. Thank you for a great lesson, I was going to use Muric Acid can I use the PnP with that?


  31. You are Blessed by God ! You are Magic!
    All of us Love you !!!

  32. I have a heat press as well and am having a hard time getting the pnp to fully transfer. What temp and how long are you using it for? Thank you for the tutorial!!

  33. Te felicito aprendi mucho muchas gracias...

  34. Thank you, Deborah! Very well done.

    I've been using Permalac for years and it is a great product and can be purchased in a spray can as well.

    A suggestion: steel wool tends to rust and get messy. I find that bronze wool is a better alternative. While often harder to find locally, Ebay has it. Also, try your local marine supply store.

  35. This comment has been removed by the author.

  36. what fiber wheel do you use? Your tutorial is very helpful and informative. Thank upi

  37. This comment has been removed by the author.

  38. Unde se gaseste hirtie PnP cu diferse modele?

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  40. Great article Lot's of information to Read...Great Man Keep Posting and update to People..Thanks best copper grill mats

  41. Excellent and detailed tutorial. Thank you so much for posting this.

  42. for pendants - small pieces I dip into the permalac - for bracelets I use a foam brush to brush it on - if you get drips just use paper towel to wick it away

  43. Great article Lot's of information to Read...Great Man Keep Posting and update to People

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  45. excelente trabajo con explicacion muy precisa.

  46. I too enjoy making etched cuffs. However, I believe that I'm doing it the hard way! I'm using stakes! Can you please tell me where you purchased your bracelet bender? By the way, you did an amazing job with putting all of this together ~ I'm certain I would have forgotten something 🤯!
    Thank you so much!

  47. Thanks so much, this was so helpful :)

  48. Your work & tutorial are both FANTASTIC!!

    I currently LOVE working with metal foils - mainly pewter + copper & dabbling with brass ( much thicke
    This is Probably the most helpful & inspirational tutorial i have ever seen for the kind of stuff I have i am currently working with in the pewter repousse & the kind of stuff i would like to learn how to do using copper & brass. I have a lot to learn, but this is helping! THANK YOU!

  49. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  50. Bonjour. Depuis quelques temps je m'intéresse à la gravure à l'acide sur métal pour la fabrication de bijoux . Votre tutoriel est très intéressant et me permet d'avancer un peu plus dans la compréhension de cette technique, et me donne le coup de pouce pour passer à l'action ! Merci! Bonne et belle continuation dans vos créations et vos expériences que j'adore ! Encore merci de nous faire part de toutes vos expérimentations géniales

  51. J'utilise fréquemment la technique de l'estampage (stamping) dans la création de mes bijoux et je souhaitais y ajouter cette technique qui parait permettre une créativité infinie ! ... 🙏 merci d'éclairer mon chemin 😊

  52. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.