Thursday, September 5, 2013


We have a special treat for you today...guest blogger Caroline of Blueberribeads is going to tell us a bit about electroforming.


Firstly, I'd like to say hello, and big thank you to Jennifer for having me here!

I'm Caroline from Blueberribeads, a ceramic bead maker, but I love to try out anything creative, and I love mixed media.

I first discovered electroforming after stumbling across some beautiful lampwork beads while surfing around on google. I instantly fell in love with the effect, the colour, the texture, everything about it, and decided this was what my ceramic beads needed!

After much research and hunting around for parts, I worked out how to do it, so here's my version of electroforming in a nutshell...

 Electroformed Ceramic Acorns by Blueberribeads


Electroforming uses the same process as electroplating, where items are covered with a thin coating of metal. The difference with electroforming, is that the coating is much thicker and can also be used over organic, non metal items such as seed pods and beads. 

Electroformed seed head by Edooley

Now for the technical bit...

To 'grow' copper on to an item electricity passes from the DC power supply to the Anodes. These are pieces of sacrificial copper connected with wires around the tub suspended in a copper sulphate solution. The metal dissolves from the anodes passes through the solution and reforms on the cathode (the item to be electroformed). The cathodes, in this case beads and leaves, are suspended with copper wire into the solution and the bar is connected back to the power supply. The idea is to pass the electrical charge around in a loop.

Beads and leaves aren't conductive, so to complete the loop, they need to be painted with a conductive paint to make sure the copper forms where you want it.

To make leaves and other items in to pendants and charms, you need to attach a bail, I do this with 2 part epoxy resin. The next step is to seal the item if it's porous. I use clear acrylic car spray. Then when everything's set and dry they are painted with the conductive paint.

Once the paint is dry they are hung in the solution and power is switched on. To form something like one of my acorns takes about 10 hours. It's an extremely boring process and there's not much to see, but the end result is worth the wait!

When the leaves come out, they are bright copper, so to enhance the pattern of the leaves and the natural texture of the copper, I treat them with Liver of Sulphur and give them a tumble to bring back the shine.

To show you some of the effects you can get with electroforming, here's a few pics of my work and some of my other favourites.

Ceramic face pendant by Blueberribeads

Ceramic & leaf art nouveau pendant by Blueberribeads

Skeleton key by KimV Glass

Ring by PIROK

Glass Big hole beads by BeadsofPassion

Glass Acorn by Julie Nordine

I hope you've enjoyed reading and that I've maybe inspired you to have a go!



  1. Wonderful post, I love electroforming and have done just a bit. One of these days I'd love to do more, it's on my long list of things I'd love to do as most of us have. I had to purchase those gorgeous beads from BeadsOfPassion, a major splurge and I'm so excited about it!!

  2. Thanks Kristi, I'm a little bit jealous of your new purchase! They're beautiful!

  3. Kristi & I are going on a metalsmithing retreat next week and I believe that electroforming is on the agenda. So this post was especially timely and fascinating. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Okay I have to tell you this is the most amazing process! I am jealous of all that can play with fire an now electricity!!! I would love to incorporate these gorgeous beads with my seed beads. Thank you so much for being a guest blogger and adding to my wish list items!!!!

  5. Brilliant post Caroline - not sure I get the physics bit but the effect is fantastic and I love my acorns. Thanks for sharing with us.

  6. This looks like a fascinating process! In fact I have it on my long list of things I want to try.
    Thanks so much for sharing!

  7. I love the look and although so far I've only done some plastic chickens you've given me a poke to get my equipment back out and play. It is kind of magical!

  8. Fabulous post! What is "conductive paint"?

  9. Great post and I love the interesting effect electroforming creates.

  10. Thanks all, I'm thrilled to have such a lovely response, my OH thinks I'm nuts... it's nice to meet some like minded people! :)

    Karen, the paint is tiny particles of copper suspended in a medium that you can paint with. It means that you can 'paint' the metal wherever you'd like it to form.

  11. Caroline, fantastic post! I saw electroforming once before on educational public TV, but you've explained it so clearly here. Thank you. i have a new appreciation for the labor of love & art form!

    Your work is divine and lovely. I'm so excited I'll be participating in the upcoming blog hop with you & Lesley. Not just excited -- honored! And so looking forward to working with your gorgeous beads.

  12. Very interesting post, always wanted a go at electroforming onto my beads, must get the bits and bobs to have a go. Thank you

  13. Thank you Rita, that's really lovely of you to say so! Can't wait to see what you do! :)

  14. Looking forward to seeing how you get on Elaine!

  15. Now even more than ever I want to come to your place for art camp! Hi Caroline - nice to see you here! Gorgeous examples that I now want... and you really demystified the process for me! Thanks!

  16. Thanx for the helpful post! I also do some electroforming at home. The only thing I cant figure out is why does it sometimes plate smoothly, sometimes bobbly and sometimes semi-spiky?? Because sometimes the texture is way to rough for a jewellery piece. Can you help??
    Here you can see my stuff -->


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