Jan 25-29: Steel and Gold…a Love Story: Online – Live Streaming!

Steel and Gold…a Love Story (Etching and Fusing Metals to Steel)
Instructor: Bette Barnett
January 25-29, Monday-Friday, 10am - 12pm Pacific Time
(with afternoon open studio)
Class Fee: $420 | Materials kit $85 + shipping

Prerequisites: Students must have basic metalworking skills—shearing, sawing, filing, hammering, sanding and basic forming. In addition students must be comfortable using either a dual gas torch (such as oxy/propane) and an acetylene/air torch. 

If you love the glow of gold against the jet-black of patinated steel, this is the workshop for you! Steel is lightweight, strong, malleable and versatile. It also etches beautifully to create added dimension and depth. The biggest advantage, however, is the high melting temperature of steel, which allows other metals to be fused to it, creating dramatic patterns and contrast.

In this live online workshop, you’ll learn the process of electro-etching steel, a method that provides extreme sharpness and detail. You’ll add your own hand-drawn etched patterns to steel or create designs using laser printed patterns and adhesive backed stencils. To top off your skills, you’ll create an etched steel pattern plate that can be used to transfer designs to softer metals.

Then we’ll kick things up a notch and cover fusing gold and other metals to steel, a process that adds the caché and glow of precious metals against the deep black of patinated steel. If you choose to work with gold and/or silver, you’ll need to purchase only a small amount of gold and/or silver sheet, which will be enough for several pieces of fused steel jewelry. As an option, you can avoid the additional cost and work with copper, bronze and silver fused to steel.

Techniques included in the workshop:

  • Working with mild, cold rolled steel including sourcing, cutting, soldering, forming, texturing, patinating and sealing. Materials and supplies required to work with steel. Cleaning and prepping steel.
  • Electro-etching steel. Applying different types of resists (oil paint pen, laser printed transfers and adhesive backed stencils. Mixing etching chemicals and setting up the etching station. Managing the etching process. Creating etched jewelry as a foundation for fusing gold or other metals. Creating a steel rolling mill pattern plate.
  • Preparing gold and/or other metals for fusing to steel. Proper techniques to roll and cut the metals to ensure successful fusing.
  • Fusing gold and other metals to steel. This class offers you the option to work with less expensive metals — such as copper, brass and silver— for fusing to steel.
  • Fusing metals to steel using either a dual gas or acetylene air torch.
  • Removing oxidation from fused steel jewelry.
  • Patinating steel to achieve various effects. Removing patinas from fused metals to heighten the contrast with the patinated steel.
  • Sealing mixed metals steel jewelry to protect it for years to come.
  • Creating hands-on work. You will be able to create at least two pieces of etched, fused steel jewelry.

This workshop runs for five consecutive days, January 25-29. Each morning from 10 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. PST, you’ll attend a live online class via Zoom consisting of brief lecture, pre-recorded demos, class discussion and an assignment. Then each afternoon, you’ll be invited to attend an open studio session to discuss progress, ask questions and trouble shoot any issues.

This class is hosted on Zoom. You will need a computer, laptop, smart phone or iPad for conference video (Zoom app required for phone- it’s free!)
If you do not have experience with Zoom, fret not! We will provide a free online tutorial with one of our staff to help you get comfortable before class. A quick rundown will also be covered the first night of class.

Students MUST have or purchase:

  • Optional—1”x1” square of gold sheet, thinnest gauge available, 14k or higher
  • Optional—1”x1” square of fine silver, sterling silver or Argentium sterling silver, any gauge
  • Non-iodized salt—one-pound container (usually available from the grocery store; also called kosher salt)
  • Root Kill or Root Killer—cupric sulfate is sold in hardware stores and plant nurseries under the brand name Root Kill or Root Killer. You will need one container.
  • Pumice type cleaner (GoJo, Fast Orange, even household cleanser is okay)
  • Alcohol (either denatured or isopropyl)
  • Silver solder (easy)
  • Torch—a dual gas or acetylene/air (Smaller MAPP or butane torches are not hot enough for the fusing process.)
  • Soldering pads or charcoal blocks
  • Third hand or other tools to help with soldering operations
  • Two firebricks or something similar to support metal while heating from below
  • Pickle pot—separate pickle pot for ferrous metals; non-ferrous metals (silver, copper, gold, etc.) should not be mixed in the same pickle pot as ferrous (or mixed metals with ferrous) metals
  • Pickle pot tongs—either steel, plastic or wood (not copper)
  • Jeweler saw and 3/0 and 4/0 blades
  • Flush cutter
  • Files—flat, half round, needle
  • Hammers—mallet (rawhide or Delrin), forging, texturing (whatever you like to use)
  • Pliers (chain nose, round, etc.)
  • Sharp pointed tweezers
  • Solder pick
  • Lubricant for sawing (if you use it)
  • Ruler
  • Scribe
  • Digital calipers
  • Silver solder (easy)
  • Sandpaper—120, 220, 320, 400 etc.
  • Nitrile gloves
  • Eye protection
  • Patina—one container of Oxpho Blue from Brownell’s or Prestoblack PC-9 available from Sculpt Nouveau (Note: check the list of Sculpt Nouveau distributors on their site and use the one closest to you to save on shipping costs.)

Nice to have but not required: 

  • Power supply (rectifier)—the kit for the class will contain D batteries and a holder to use for electro etching. However, if you wish to have a stronger, longer lasting solution, a power supply/rectifier is helpful. Available from Amazon.
  • Hotplate or electric griddle—this can be used to heat transfer laser printed designs to the metal for etching. Available from Amazon (hotplate or griddle). The technique can instead be performed on a kitchen stove in an old pan.
  • Gold solder (14k gold easy)
  • Cuff mandrel—if making a cuff according to one of the class project patterns
  • Flexshaft and the burs or wheels that you like to use (3M radial disc wheels are particularly good for steel).
  • Rolling mill—this will be used for thinning your sheet of gold (if you choose to work with gold) or other metals for fusing. If you do not have a rolling mill, the metals can be forged to the proper thickness. 

Materials KIT:

Material kits for this class are required. Please click HERE to learn more or to purchase the kit.

Instructor Bio:

Since 2013 Bette Barnett has devoted her work to exploring and experimenting with steel and gold. Bette began her jewelry career in 2010 and subsequently studied with the late Chris Nelson through his advanced workshops in fusing gold to steel. Since then Bette has perfected additional techniques and processes for steel, including Keum Boo on steel, steel wire fused with gold, alternative alloys for fusing such as shibuichi and shakudo, fusing metal powders to steel, etching steel and fusing gold to non-traditional mild steel forms, such as steel wire and perforated steel sheet. Bette is focusing much of her current work on Keum Boo on steel, an area that is virtually unexplored among western artists.

In recognition of her work, the Santa Fe Symposium selected Bette to create a research paper on steel jewelry. The paper entitled “Steel Jewelry—Expanding the Horizons of Steel with Gold” was to have been presented at the May conference had it not been postponed due to the quarantine. Bette has also published articles on steel and gold jewelry in Lapidary Journal: Jewelry Artist.

Tools are available to purchase through Danaca Design Studio with 15% student discount. Shop tools HERE. If you don’t see what you need please email us, dana@danacadesign.com.

Review our class cancellation policy HERE.