Sunday, November 27, 2011

Textile Friday: 24K Goldplating with Jon Danforth

            We're running a little late on Textile Friday with the Thanksgiving holiday, but I think the wait is completely worth it because I have a special guest for you. Today we are hanging out having with my friend Jon. Jon is a lot of fun to be with and we're lucky to have him here today telling us about custom goldplating. Precious mineral plating occurs by putting a charge on the metal to be plated and then exposing it to a solution. In the industry these can be huge tanks, but the principle is the same on both the large and small scale. Thankfully, Caswell makes some great inexpensive kits to allow custom production for small scale runs in the $35-68 range. After purchasing a kit, you simply order refill bottles which are a cheap and effective way to do small runs. This gives you a great way if you need occasional plating for prototyping or finicky clients who may change their mind about finishes.
             You can generally plate a small piece in 5-10 min by following these easy steps.

 1. Clean out a glass beaker or clean jar to hold the gold solution. T-shirts work great for this. You can hold it under a light to check for residue. As you use the goldplating solution, it will leave a gold film on the inside.

2. Unscrew the gold solution and pour in some of the goldplating solution. Wrap the flat of the electroplating kit in cloth, fabric, or other absorbent material. This is what you will be using to goldplate your material.

3. Plug in the clamp and fix it to your item to be plated. Dip the fabric in the gold solution and begin rubbing it up and down the surface of the metal. As the reaction occurs, it will cause visible bubbles along the surface of the metal. You can also hear a popping sound like faint Rice Crispies Cereal.

4. Move slowly around the piece you are plating. An average piece such as this picture frame will take 5-15 minutes. Rub back and forth. You can move the clamp to plate the entire piece.

5. When you get done electroplating your piece, you will need to polish it for a shiny finish. Your final piece will have the same characteristics as the orginal piece. The gold is covering your metal, it does not change it's initial properties. You can take a polishing cloth, those wrapped in a block do best, and rub it over the surface of the gold to bring out the finish.

6. Voila. Your piece is done. Pretty awesome huh?

You can see the final contrast below.

Thanks so much for tuning in and a super big thanks to Jon for all his help and interesting help.


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