One thing that has always caught my eye when I look at metalwork jewellery is contrast and layers. That difference in texture between patterned and smooth and also the depth added by layers and overlaying.
I recently tried etching sterling silver firstly using copper nitrate and a battery. It worked but the results were unpredictable. By that I mean some pieces etched well within an hour and the next batch were hardly touched after 4 hours. A bit frustrating and not reliable enough for someone who isn't the world's most patient soul! So I decided to try ferric nitrate which is a bit more "hardcore" than the previous method and one I'd been hoping to avoid.
The sterling silver etched well with the ferric nitrate. I used vinyl/plastic stickers you can find in craft stores and left it for about 2.5 hours. The stickers worked well and the etch was really clean and quite deep.
These earrings were hard to photograph because of their shiny shiny nature but the etched design shows up well. I soldered the etched piece to a plain piece to highlight the contrast in pattern and smoothness.
A copper and silver combination. I'm starting to feel a bit more confident when I solder as I try different things and work out how to get over those little problems they don't tell you about in the jewellery books. Positioning a piece so it won't move when you solder on loops and earwires for example. Fellow jewellery makers also help a lot (thanks for the tips Tania!)
These were made using the silver I etched using the copper nitrate and battery method and a rubber stamp design. I added the wavy edged smooth silver at the bottom as a contrast. I really like that look so will no doubt do it again!
A pair of little sterling studs with etched and smooth silver.
Copper "shields" with etched silver. Getting to know how much solder to use to attach the silver pieces to the copper is a challenge - too much and it can spread over the copper and cause a lot of cleaning up work (ask me how I know that).
Ah well, it's all part of the learning process as they say!