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  1. #1
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    Default Flare cut with 24kt gold ... pretending to be rich

    In the attached photo, please ignore the unfinished condition of this piece..no border and perimeter not cut properly, etc.

    Photographed with my emergency "flat light table" … open your lap top, get a blank white Photoshop canvas, tilt the screen angled towards you, and it gives pretty good flat lighting, with no hot spots.

    Got two flutes finished and into the mail to Switzerland and Germany, so snatching a few hours to try some ideas on the "flare cut" engraving, that might hold promise for flute application.

    I have a drawer full of copper (cuts like silver) practice ideas for flute keys, and grabbed a half-finished one ( about 2 inches/50 mm long) to experiment with a contrast enhancement. Nothing is new very much over the centuries, yet I was new to flare cutting, and got generous nudges from a host of good souls …Diane S, Ron Smith, Sam A, Mike Dubber, Roger B, and more.

    I will not be able to convince a flute player to have a little bling on their flute, unless it can be done for not too much additional cost over the already expensive flute.

    So:

    Flare cut is important for this idea, as it is all with knife edge mountain ridges, or scooped hollows, as in the flower petals, and all are "under water", as they say in the now defunct real estate business. Everything is below the surface pretending it is not. It cuts fast, and the idea is to get fast and good…still working on both of these! The advantage is ... no lengthy background removal. I have been using bead blasted silver, then bright flare, and that's all.

    Now I am experimenting with gold plating the whole piece, afterwords, under the microscope, carefully sanding off the top surface to remove the gold from the negative space (the surface). Danger...do not lose those crisp edges! If I do my cutting with more skill than on the above test, I can sand down the gold ( gentle with 400 grit and flat backing behind the paper, then on down to 2000 grit) to reveal the nickel plating underneath, and using that as a witness mark, I sand more till the copper is revealed. By the way, nickel plating is advised if you are starting with silver, as it presents a firewall to prevent the gold atoms from diffusing into the silver to form an alloy at room temperature, hence diluting the top gold surface. In a real key, it will be silver, not copper. However, when you think about it, as the copper tarnishes darker, the contrast with the 24 K gold is actually enhanced, also you could sulfur-blacken the silver negative space, or bead blast it , etc.

    In silver only, the busy flower cluster seems too busy, but now in gold, it appears bit better?

    None of these steps is very time consuming.

    Another promising approach, in theory, would be to bead blast the silver for that nice mat surface, wipe it with super glue as a mask to the gold plating, flare engrave the design and then straight to gold plating, hoping the now gold cuts will look crisp, but ...the super glue does tend to flake off locally at the edge of the engraving cuts, so the gold/non gold transition would be a bit ragged. Does anyone have any suggestions for a really tenacious, thin, and transparent coating that would not flake?

    One might expect engravers who are masterful in gold inlay work on large commissions to yawn at this plating effect, understandably, however, don't sit around too long awaiting a big commission. Let's look for what jobs will keep our gravers busy, and maybe bring in some more modest income? I can get a lot of good learning in, trying to improve on these small jobs.

    There is so much experience out there on the forums, please do weigh in on any aspect of this?

    Best

    Rod
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    Last edited by rod; 11-11-2011 at 02:27 AM.

  2. Likes Titian, Leonardo, BrianPowley liked this post
  3. #2
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    Hi Rod, sounds like you've been enjoying a little creative time. One idea I had is to mask your piece with a spray fixative and try engraving through it.

  4. #3
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    Dave!

    Thanks! Yes, that is a good point you suggest. I use superglue for just about everything over so many years, and when given a good 'tooth' in the adhering surface, it is both hard and tenacious. However, I may have narrowed my thinking. I was assuming hardness of the glue would make it tenacious, but now that you have me rethinking, it could be that hardness might simply make it too brittle, hence that little bit of flaking near the bright cut? So, good idea, perhaps something like 'fixative' would not flake, and give me the crisp boundary that I was hoping for. I am going to give your suggestion a try. Of course the fixative would have to be resistant to all them acids and electro-cleaners? If it works, I may owe you a coffee or something stronger!

    I have been marooned for too long, in fact since last Easter, in this small town. Watching the wild geese fly low over the cliffs is giving me wanderlust. Too late in the season to anything about it, unless its in to the desert. Maybe next season I will set off in my mini van and go drifting. If I get within your stompin' ground in Idaho, maybe we could meet up, and cast a fly of troubled waters...my favorite kind?

    best

    Rod

  5. #4
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    Interesting idea Rod which should lead to more of same...and neat lighting. Very attractive engraving . Good post.
    TOS
    (The Other Sam)

    FEGA LIFE
    ACGG LIFE
    Guns, Guitars and Old Cars
    A.I.E.

    Cravingravin=a chronic malady that afflicts some of the world's nicest people...TOS

  6. #5
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    Thanks, Sam!

    However, the heck with gold plated, when you can do wonderful work with aluminium on guitar rosettes. You must be a contender for greatest number of hits on your posting! I know enough about engraving aluminium to know that it does take great skill if you are at the level you have on your guitars. In fact I have been practicing with it a little, as it demands more attention to get good results, and also, when I come back to silver, well, it is such a relief! So all the more reason to be in awe of those new guitar pieces.

    Same time same place at FEGA, 2012, Sam? And any chance of picking a tune on the latest masterpiece, will it be ready? I promise to cut my fingernails and wear soft clothing ...

    best

    Rod

  7. #6
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    Rod

    You could always try spray paint for the initial mask. Use white and then you can draw the design on it. You'll have to clean it off with solvent (probably acetone) after the gold plating but it shouldn't take anything that would affect the plating. Another advantage is that it should be easy to spot any flaking along the cuts before the plating.
    Enjoy!

    Steve :->

  8. #7
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    Thank you, Steve,

    That too is worth considering, and does not take much to try these ideas. Whatever is used as a potential mask against electroplating must first run the gauntlet of:

    Hot soapy water clean
    Distilled water soak
    Acetone soak
    Distilled water soak
    Electrochemical cleaner temp 150 F 4 volts dc
    Distilled water soak
    acid dip at room temperature
    Distilled water soak
    Nickel plate at 140 F 4 volts
    Distilled water soak
    acid dip
    Distilled water soak
    24 K gold plate at 90 F
    Distilled water soak

    So, I do know super glue will come through unscathed, but with a little flaking where you cut through it while engraving. Many plating resists are mentioned as being used by big quantity plating shops, but I have not used any so far.

    I can get results without using a mask, but it would be nice if I found the perfect mask.

    By the way, for those who have not done any bench top plating, it is straightforward if you keep to the rules, and not as complicated as the above recipe implies. Safety first makes good sense, so do not start doing it in the kitchen. A good approach is to have a trolly or other dedicated place with your little Pyrex bowls on a simple food dish table warmer, about 300 watts, with thermostat to keep the warm bowls at the right temperature, and everything laid out orderly. Oh, and did I mention, whereas in earlier days cyanide/gold solution was necessary, today there is an effective acid/gold solution that is more user friendly.

    I am very grateful to try these and other suggestions.

    Rod

  9. #8
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    Rod: That's a stunning piece of work! It is absolutely gorgeous! The selective gold flare cutting sparkles and I love the flower cluster. You are getting seriously good at this technique.

    I see where you're going with this and I'm not sure what to advise, but I'm wondering if there's something worth investigating in the copper plate print etching industry. I know they have a resist of some sort (rosin?) that they can engrave through and then etch the plate in an acid bath. Whether their resist is safe to use in a gold plating bath needs to be determined of course. Plating solutions are expensive and you don't want contamination. Whatever they use must be resistant to chipping, wouldn't you think?

    The Cronite Company has long been a supplier to the engraved stationery trade, and they might have something or point you in the right direction. I looked briefly at their site but didn't see anything. I will look again later.

    I've worked with Rio Grande at several trade shows where Eddie Bell was doing plating demonstrations, and I asked him about selective plating. His main concern at the time of our brief discussion was the contamination of the plating bath with a resist. As I recall he didn't have an answer to my selective plating question, but I'm passing along his concern.

    There must be something that is safe to use and won't chip when engraved. We just need to find it!

    ~Sam

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  10. #9
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    You are too kind Rod! I fear I won't be able to bring a new instrument this year...just not going to be far enough along. But I sure look forward to a good visit and will likely have a number of instrument questions saved up. And I will have the finished rosette mounted in some scrap wood for display. About the "rose" thread, one of the photos I posted has been downloaded right at 700 times now. Would be very interesting to know what was being done with them. Regards...
    TOS
    (The Other Sam)

    FEGA LIFE
    ACGG LIFE
    Guns, Guitars and Old Cars
    A.I.E.

    Cravingravin=a chronic malady that afflicts some of the world's nicest people...TOS

  11. #10
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    I don't know why, but when opening your thread, I clicked on the picture before reading the text. I really enjoyed my "double take" at the two-tone look of your flute key. And then, I couldn't wait to learn what you did to achieve this.
    Very nice as it is, but when the copper darkens, it should have an even more dramatic look.
    Tha sin glè mhath!
    Brian
    www.powleyengraving.com
    http://engraversnotebook.blogspot.com

    "I dare you to believe in yourself. You have no idea how many wonderful things you are capable of doing."---Brian Powley

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