Copper Electroforming Supply List
Welcome to Atlas & Aether’s complete copper electroforming supply list containing all of my “must have” and “nice to have” products. You can be sure that you are in good hands and can begin with only the things you need for your specific area of interest within electroforming.
(Please note: I am not an affiliate for any of the websites listed below. Everything listed is a personal choice and I receive no income for sharing these products with you.)
Choosing the Right Tank for Electroforming
There are many cost-effective options for creating your electroforming tank, you may even have something laying around! The number one consideration is: how big will your pieces be? how many pieces will be electroformed at once? If you’re just starting out and are unsure about the longevity of this hobby, I recommend starting with the smallest set-up you can as the chemicals are costly. However, if you plan to be producing pieces regularly in larger batches or plan to create large sculptural forms, it may be worth your while to skip straight to a larger tank. I use this 2 gallon fishtank. If you are going to use plastic, make sure it is type 2 (HDPE) or type 5 (PP).
Some people recommend using beakers, such as the 1000 mL ones that can be found in Rio Grande’s electroforming kit. Something this size is great for electroforming singular small jewelry objects, but the roundness of the beaker makes for a risky setup. IF YOU MUST use a round bath, make sure your lead wires are safely secured and clipped to opposite ends so there is no risk of them slipping and touching each other. You will also need to find a way to keep it covered or funnel your solution back into the bottle when you are done (BIG PAIN!). You also may be tempted to buy the kit to make it easy on yourself, but for $500 you can easily get everything on my “need to have” list and several on my “nice to have” list.
A good electroforming tank will: have a lid (for safety and to avoid evaporation), be made of glass or plastic, and be the right size for your needs! I also recommend getting a 2nd larger plastic tub and lid that your bath can fit inside for safety and easy cleanup.
“Need to have” Supply List for Copper Electroforming Tank Setup
Tekpower 3 amp rectifier is a reliable and cheap option. Anything over 3-5 amps will be unnecessary to start.
(Make sure your model comes with lead wires).
Midas Bright Electroforming Solution is the only pre-mixed solution I will touch.
The best paint on the market is easily Safer Solutions.
Price: depends on size (1 oz will go quick, I recommend buying a larger size and pouring some into a smaller container for use).
Save yourself the hassle of constantly filtering your bath and make your own anode bags with some filter fabric and a hot glue gun.
This acts as your bus bar to hang your anodes and cathodes from. 10 ft of type L 1/4-3/8 inch is enough. Can be found at home depot/lowe’s.
Can use copper refrigeration tubing or other thicker tubing from home improvement store. I do not recommend wire coils as they produce more sludge.
(You will also need a pair of tubing cutters).
Get some all-plastic clips to add pressure to your wire connections (=better conductivity!) These ones are perfect.
A decent economy set such as this one will suffice until you decide what you like.
Helps keep your bus bar clean and conductive. Make sure to keep it out of your bath!
I recommend epoxy or UV epoxy over super glue for all attachments due to its strength.
SYNTHETIC ONLY. I recommend buying cheap ones as the paint is hard to wash out completely and will ruin your nice brushes.
Mark a line at the level of solution in your bath- keep the solution at this level by adding distilled water.
If you have an impermanent bath set-up, you will need a funnel to put the solution back into its bottle.
Use as a drying surface for your epoxied and painted pieces so they do not stick.
Safety Supply List for Electroforming
Copper electroforming is safe for your home studio, but some precautions should be taken to protect you and your surroundings from chemical spills.
Always wear safety glasses when handling chemicals (solution and brightener) and adding/removing pieces from your bath (can splash).
I recommend one thick pair of long reusable rubber gloves for sticking your hands in the bath. I also frequently use plastic gloves when applying patina or paint.
This isn’t really a necessity, but copper paint likes to stick to clothes so dress appropriately!
“Nice to Have” Supply List for Copper Electroforming
Protectaclear seals your copper finish to prevent oxidation and skin reactions.
INTLLAB magnetic stirrer helps to prevent current lines and maintain a smooth finish.
Premade Jump Rings
Save yourself time and buy premade jump rings. With how cheap they are, its hard to justify time spent on them. Also they will be work hardened already.
Silver Nail Polish
This is a neat trick to seal the backs of your translucent stones so you can’t see the epoxy/conductive paint/etc.
For sketching and for lining up that perfect symmetry!
You may be able to get a perfectly shiny plate right out of the bath time after time, but it is HARD. Save those not-so-shiny plates with a brass brush or steel brush attachment for your dremel.
Give your pieces an antiqued or gunmetal appearance. I prefer dehydrated LOS (cheaper, longer lasting) to pre-mixed solution.