Thursday, 20 June 2013

Electroform All The Things

It's probably pretty obvious what this post is going to be about...  Over the last month I have slowly been acquiring the parts I need to set up my own electroforming bath!  The first step was getting a rectifier!  I absolutely love the digital read-out.  It's going to make my life so much easier. 


Step two:  Get giant plastic tub to hold the solution.  Mine is the same at the one at NSCAD, 7 gallons! 


Step three: Get the ingredients for the bath. 

Now, this is where I ran into some (hilarious) issues.  I suppose it is a good thing that sulfuric acid is so difficult to come by, but a few weeks ago this was the bane of my existence.  I was told it would be simple and straightforward.  I was told to go to CarStar and walk in and ask for sulfuric acid.  Simple, right?  I knew because it's me that there was no way it would be that easy.  

So when I showed up at CarStar and asked them for some acid the woman looked at me like I was completely insane and told me they don't sell anything like that.  Slightly dejected, I went home and called the other CarStar location in Burlington thinking maybe I had just gone to the wrong one.  I even explained to this man on the phone what I was doing (to avoid sounding insane) and the man rudely asked me if I knew who I was trying to call.  I told him yes, CarStar.  I explained that I was told specifically that what I needed was available there.  He told me I must have misheard.  I explained that since this information was given to me all via email it was highly unlikely that I would have misunderstood.  The rude man grumbled a little bit and then we disconnected. 

I then called Napa Auto Parts and spoke to a lovely man who understood what I was trying to do and was not incredibly rude to me.  So I was off to a good start.  He told me he did have sulfuric acid, a whole 20 litres of it.  I explained that it was literally 20 times what I needed and asked if there was any chance he sold it in smaller quantities.  Unfortunately he didn't but he referred me to a company that they supply and told me to give them a shout because they were likely to sell me a smaller quantity. 

So the next day (when Peak Powersports was actually open) I gave them a call.  The first man I spoke to thought I was insane and suggested that maybe I should speak to someone in the service department.  I told him that was probably a good idea.  After a quick conversation explaining once again what I was trying to do, Mike in the service department did me a solid and told me he would sell me a litre of sulfuric acid. 

So I went the next day.  I was told to go in the showroom (where I totally didn't belong surrounded my camo gear and ATVs), ask for Mike and I would be lead to the service department.  It sounded a bit like a covert operation to me, so I was all over that.  Except when I went to the showroom and explained what I needed and that I should ask for Mike the guy at the desk looked at me like I was insane (something I started getting used to) and told me how to get to the service department. 

The adventure isn't over though!  It didn't occur to me that I should bring something to carry the acid home in since the 20 litres of acid comes in this sort of bladder thing in a box and there were no other little containers.  So I went to Canadian Tire (where I had just come from) and bought some mason jars, came back and got them filled up.  Only true NSCAD students keeps their sulfuric acid in a mason jar... 

The best part of this was Mike asking me "Is this stuff hard to get or something?"  Another thing that made me happy was that he seemed to know exactly what I was doing with it, he even asked me if I was using it for jewellery! 


Copper sulphate - super easy to get at Pottery Supply House in Oakville.  No one even looked at me like I was from outer space either!  


Distilled water - This wasn't even all I needed to fill my bath... If you need this much distilled water get it in bulk! It's only $4.50 for 20 litres! 


Step four - Do the math.  I had to crunch some numbers to figure out exactly how much I needed.  Turned out after doing the mix that I needed about 3 litres less than I calculated so there was a little bit of improvising at the end but what can you do? 


Step Five - Mix it up! One sunny Sunday I mixed my bath.  I am pretty sure pedestrians in the neighbourhood thought that I was up to no good in all of my safety gear.


Step Six - neutralize the excess and the cleaning bin. 


Step seven - Anodes!  I had to be so patient waiting for these beauties but they were absolutely worth the wait.  This was the last piece in the puzzle...


Step eight - Electroform all the things!  I started my first test about two hours ago.  I had the amps a little bit too high at first but now it is working perfectly! 


Love my little rectifier! 


Hopefully soon I will be posting some pictures of what I am working on now that I have something that resembles a studio again.  My next show is the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition and I will be swamped in prep for that over the next couple weeks.  Maybe somewhere in there I will find some time for another update! 

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