How I designed my etched bracelet


Since my last etched bracelet is reserved for a “potential” customer, I felt the need to make another one.  This one is just one sold piece – I just wanted to etch a design to see how it would turn out.

I usually start by sketching ideas in my cheap, ruled notebook and see what evolves.

Bracelet idea sketches

Bracelet idea sketches

So with my sharpie marker, I decided to omit the flowers for now and draw just the vines and leaves.  I added some spiral “tendrils” to fill up space and inked the whole design directly onto a piece of copper sheet I had cut to 6 1/4″ long  and 1 1/4″ wide.

Inked in design directly on cut blank

Inked in design directly on cut blank

I rounded all the corners by cutting a tiny triangular piece and filing them down smooth,  then prepared a bath with Ferric Chloride using packing tape on the back and letting it sit for about 50 minutes. I  didn’t take a photo before putting it away because I’m paranoid about leaving chemicals around and simply forgot .  We have a curious cat and three dogs (as well as a parrot and a Bearded Dragon).

After rinsing the piece to remove all chemicals, I “sanded” it with #0000 steel wool and dipped it in Liver of Sulfur.  I sanded it again to remove most of the LOS and left just enough patina.

Etched and left with just a little patina

Etched and left with just a little patina

I put the cuff to be on my step mandrel and pounded it carefully with my cheap,  little rubber mallet to shape it into an oval.

Etched cuff on mandrel with mallet

Etched cuff on mandrel with mallet

I sealed the bracelet with Protec A Clear – two coats.  And here it is on my daughter’s wrist.

Finished bracelet on my daughter's wrist

Finished bracelet on my daughter’s wrist

About zoraidabros

I'm Zoraida and I design and create handmade, one of a kind jewelry. My work is inspired by the art of ancient world cultures that have endured the shifting trends of fashion. I prefer to work in copper and semi precious gemstones but also appreciate fine lamp work beads, wood and other artistically crafted materials. Please visit my studio at and my website at
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30 Responses to How I designed my etched bracelet

  1. How does the ferric chloride hold up? Do you use the same bath over and over or have to make a new batch each time? I bet you could crank out a bunch of those and sell all day long for a good profit.

  2. Deborah says:

    This blog is wonderful reading. I’ve never tried etching, and your pics and discussions have me excited to give it a try. In the pictures of this cuff, there are small scratches/lines near the outside edges. Are these created with the steel wool, sharpie, etching vagaries? It really adds character to the sketch, which I really love.

    • zoraidabros says:

      Thanks so much Deborah,
      The fine lines are actually produced by the ferric chloride, probably because I don’t ink around the outer edges as a resist. It was an accidental surprise but I liked it and continue to do it that way. Glad you hear you enjoy reading my posts 😀

  3. zoraidabros says:

    Hi Joanne 🙂
    Ferric Chloride can be reused until it’s no longer effective. I just started so I haven’t reached that point. I does need to be neutralized with baking soda before disposal and all areas washed with baking soda as well. I personally do not like to “crank up” similar designs. I’ll leave that to mass market, machine-like, corporate minded, production people. I need to be creative and that would bore me to death!

  4. Linda Sinish says:

    Zoraida, Thank you for your pictures and tutorial. You continue to inspire me. I have etching on my work table ‘to do list and plan to play with this process in the near future. (I’m in the middle of moving, so new projects are on hold.) I have given the ferric chloride storage a bit of thought and I am planning on using it and storing it in a glass 8″ x 8″ baking dish. The one that comes with a plastic/rubber cover. But, you have a great point that I hadn’t considered. My new home will be shared with Pebbles the curious cat! So maybei, I will need to find a cabinet/drawer to store the sealed glass container.

    Would you mind letting me know what gauge copper sheet you use? Also, do you cut your sheet with hardware store metal shears?

    I love your etched cuffs and all of your designs.


  5. zoraidabros says:

    Thanks Linda, it’s always great hearing from you 🙂 I used 24ga copper sheet because that’s what I had available. I want to use 22 next time, if I can bend it! I cut my sheet with metal shears I ordered from Beadaholique (I think) They’re either by Vintage or Beadsmith. They’re great and can cut up to 18ga. Good luck with your moving. We’re hoping to move upstate NY late this year (keep your fingers crossed).

    • Linda Sinish says:

      Thank you for the info. Good luck with your move. – Do you have a tumbler? I was thinking I will put the finished piece (once I’ve gotten that far) into a tumbler to work harden. Let the experiements begin! 🙂

  6. zoraidabros says:

    I don’t have a tumbler, Linda. I’m afraid I just work harden my pieces by hand.

  7. Diane says:

    Zoraida, I have been a huge fan of your work and now just know tat we would get along too. I have cats, a dog, parrots and I had a beardie but unfortunately, he died of a deep bone infection last year – he was my baby, my cuddly lizard. I also have a blue tongue skink, a euromastyix and a pancake tortoise. All of my babies are rehab/rescues. I used to be a veterinary technician for wildlife and exotic animals, a wildlife rehabber, a wildlife education and an exotic animal trainer. I loved my life and my work so much! Unfortunately, I became disabled a few years back and can no longer do my animal work. But at least I have my rescues as pets now and they keep me happy. I adore the bracelet. I have been wanting to try etching, but am a bit scared of the chemicals. Once I get over that fear, I will certainly try……..and probably before that even as I tend to like to tackle my fears head on and get over them. Thanks for sharing.

  8. zoraidabros says:

    Diane, I love animal people! I can’t imagine a home without some sort of pet companion. We even have bird feeders all over the yard, feed the local water fowl and even rescued some. At one time we rescued 5 parrots. Luckily we found homes for most of them, the others we kept. Our cats have always adopted us! Life is full 😀 Good luck with your etching and everything else. Don’t let fear get in your way, just do it 🙂

    • Diane says:

      We have a pair of ducks that live in our neighborhood. The cover is still on my above ground pool and they have been been visiting my pool everyday lately. I started occasionally giving them some bread and now whenever the male first arrives, he quacks for me to come out and give him bread!

      • zoraidabros says:

        That sounds a lot like my neighborhood. We live a block away from a small lake where there are Peking ducks, Canada Geese, Mute Swans, herons, egrets, kingfishers and lots of other water birds. we often have them in our yard. There were a pair of these white ducks that stopped by and hung out every day for years. They would actually come up the deck and peck at the glass door asking for food. We even went to a special feed store to buy them grit and duck type food. They rarely brave the street to come here now and I’m relieved. We used to worry about them walking down the street in traffic.

  9. Diane Smith says:

    Zoraida ~ Once again you’ve designed & created a gorgeous piece. Lucky is the lady whose wrist will be adorned with it!

  10. Judy says:

    Zoraida, the bracelet is totally gorgeous. Your leaf design (minus the flowers) looks great on the copper, it kind of almost glistens.

  11. Jeni Gray says:

    This is very inspiring! I am very new to working with copper and am currently doing foldforming. However, I am interested in etching one day. I am confused about how the design is “etched” into the copper. Did the chemical etch away at everything but the marker? As always, thanks for your tutorials!!

    • zoraidabros says:

      Thank you Jeni ! Yes the marker acts as a “resist” preventing the chemical from eating away at the metal in areas that the marker has been used. There are other ways of applying resists – this is just what I had available. I’m new at this. Good luck with your creations. I love foldforming as well.

      • Jeni Gray says:

        Thank you so much for the quick reply and answer to my question. OK, I did a little reading up and I understand now…. 🙂 Keep up the fascinating work!! 🙂

  12. Diane says:

    Zoraida, I think I read somewhere that you are from Patchauge (sp?)? I grew up on LI (Shelter Island and Shoreham) but left at 18. I have lived mainly on coasts, but now live in the mountains. It is beautiful here, but I miss the beach. I am 100% beach girl. I find myself most at peace on a nice secluded beach. Once I got my drivers license and was going through the whole “teenage angst”, I would leave my parents a note as to where I was and when I couldn’t sleep, I would go to the beach at night and it always made me feel better and would be able to return home and fall soundly asleep. I find the beach to be the best place for insomnia! And I do love those sea and shore birds. I was a wildlife rehabber for many years, and when I lived in the Caribbean, I had a non-releasable egret who lived out his days very happily – first in a parrot cage on my huge porch until he got strong, then in a large pen with a baby pool! His name was Norbert!

  13. zoraidabros says:

    How wonderful that you are such a nature girl! I’ve lived in various place in NYC growing up and always wanted to live on a farm. I used to like the beach when I was young but after visiting the Caribbean (I’m originally from Puerto Rico) and experiencing the waters there, I couldn’t stand the cold dark waters here. We’ve been on LI for about 23 years but hope to move to upstate NY late this year if all goes well. I love the mountains! We hope to have a small self sustaining farm where I can grow a few crops, have a few goats, chickens, a cow and who know what else. No animals for slaughter though. Long Island has become so crowded and noisy, you wouldn’t recognize it – you’re not missing anything 🙂

    • Diane says:

      I’m excited for you and your friendly farm!! I hope it happens for you. I had a pet chicken named Elsie. I raised her from 2 days old. She was such a character, loved to cuddle, had a great sense of humor and besides me, her best friend was my 82 pound dog! Make sure you get your chickens (and ducks) as tiny babies and spend a lot of time with them or you won’t be able to touch them! And just get a couple/few at a time so that they can all get individualized attention when young. I got two ducks when they were about 3 months old and it took a long time and a lot of extra effort to get them to let me pet them and actually have them enjoy it. The female got to where she would sit in my lap, but both absolutely hated to be picked up, and it also made it that much harder to treat him when my male hurt his foot. best of luck to you and if it happens, you have my email address and you can always ask me for critter advise if needed. I have also trained a goat and 2 cows and many other animals.

  14. zoraidabros says:

    Thanks for all that great animal advice. I’ll surely be emailing you often 🙂

  15. Michelle says:

    Hi Zoraida. I’m a new subscriber and etching is new to me. I understand how you use the sharper for a resist, but I don’t understand what the packing tape was for. Do you have a tutorial for a total beginner? Or can you refer me to one? Love your work. TFS!

  16. Pingback: Inked in design directly on cut blank - Amazingly DIY

  17. I’ve just found this blog via pinterest and had to stop to comment. This cuff is beautiful, I love copper jewellery.
    I didn’t know you could use a sharpie to do this! I’ve always wanted to give it a try but am worried about spending loads of supplies and then finding it too difficult haha!

    • zoraidabros says:

      Thank you Jessica. Working with copper is quite inexpensive so it’s a great metal to experiment with. If you draw on it with a sharpie and make a “mistake” you simply wipe it clean again. You can’t learn anything new if you don’t take risks – 🙂

  18. Linda Taylor says:

    Beautiful as always Z. Your work never fails to amaze me!

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