Etched Copper Disk Party Gifts

When Amanda Palmer’s Kickstarter closed last May (2012) I was the proud holder of one the most awesome rewards ever- a house party with Amanda Palmer-exact date to be determined later. It was with the faith and trust of 22 other people that chipped in as well to make this happen. I felt that I needed to make them a gift. I even wrote publicly that I would give everyone who attended a piece of jewelry.

At that point, I figured I had at least a couple months, possibly even a year or so to think of something. In my mind I kicked around designs, a variation on my pierced pennies, a glass and silver trout heart (That idea may still come to fruition at some point, I’m working it out.) Then in April we were offered the date of May 13, 2013 for the party.
A mere 3 weeks notice was all I had. And two of those weeks I was still in Rome, Italy. With no tools.

I racked my brain. Maybe I wouldn’t be able to follow through with the jewelry gift after all.

I cleaned and thought.
And experimented with gluten free pizza recipes. (Successfully!)
And thought.
And cleaned the house some more and rearranged furniture.
And thought.

Finally sometime about when I was falling asleep the night before the party, I had it.

Etched copper disks. Everyone could make their own. I had done it before with children and with adults. It was easy. Draw on a copper disk with a marker. Anything in marker comes out raised.

Sharpie marker on copper acts as a resist. Which means when you put the copper in the etching mordant, everything that isn’t sharpied (or masked in some other way, for instance the backs were masked with packing tape) starts to be eaten away, leaving the part that was sharpied raised.

The day of the party dawned. I was up for an early morning run to jewelers row for more copper disks. We spent an hour or so getting them prepped and we were ready.

The party was a huge success, as I wrote in my previous post, but without any time for people to work on their disks. Finally about 10 minutes before Amanda had to leave, we went to plan B. I asked her to sign them for me. Of course she gracious agreed and in less than 3 minutes all of disks were sporting an original Amanda Fucking Palmer signature.

The next day I started the etching. The disks were stuck onto pieces of duct tape which was then suspended into the etching fluid. Since such a large surface of the disks was being etched, the mordant became ineffective quickly. I had to replenish my supply, so the etching took a couple of days longer than I expected.

Once etched, they had to be finished. I annealed them with my torch, heating them to cherry red to soften the metal for working.
Then each one was lightly hand engraved by me with “Philadelphia Amanda Palmer K.S. Houseparty May 13, 2013”.

Hand Engraving the back of the disks

I didn’t like the flat disks. I decided to dome them. Doming is where the disk is placed on a doming block and tapped until it has a curvature or dome instead of being flat. Here’s a video of me doming a few of the disks.

I corresponded with the attendees to see what form they preferred, a pendant, a plain disk or a pin. A couple of people requested theirs with just a hole to put on their key chains.

Drilling the disks

I made some bronze jump rings that were soldered closed on the pendants. I didn’t want them in copper because it is notoriously soft for a ring like that. All that was left was polishing.

A few more days to finish them all, type up some care instructions and I mailed them out in a batch this morning. Now I feel like the party is truly over.
But I am very glad that I had this project to get me back in the swing of things in my shop. Four months away from my tools is unheard of for me in the last 16 years or so.

While I was finishing these pieces, I received several more projects. I also started on a summer art history writing intensive course. It’s going to be a busy summer.
Amanda Palmer Party disk gifts

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