Here are some frequent questions and the answers, if none of these help, please feel free to contact me!
What is copper electroforming?
Copper electroforming is an intricate electro-chemical process of controlling the build-up of a metal deposit of copper onto a conductive surface, whether it be an organic or inorganic material. My assistant likes to explain it as, "shooting electricity into acid to make copper grow" which isn't too far off. Any non-conductive surface (eg. an insect or gemstone) is painted with conductive paint anywhere I want the copper to 'grow'. You can see some behind the scenes photos here.
Once pieces have been prepared, they are hung in an electrolytic 'electroforming bath' composed of an acidic solution of metal salts (copper sulphate [CuSO4]). A direct current of electricity is passed through the solution via anode(+) and cathode(-), inducing the transfer of metal ions present in solution onto the cathode surface, building up over time and bonding the metal onto the object.
Are those real bugs/feathers/leaves etc?
Yes! Many of my pieces are created using real organic materials like seeds, leaves, insects, and from my backyard chickens and are fully encased in copper using the copper electroforming process. You can still see all the details of texture and form in the finished creations.
Organic materials first need to be carefully sealed so as not to contaminate the electroforming bath, and have a much more intensive preparation process than pieces only incorporating gemstones.
Where are the insects from?
Insects that I incorporate can come from one of several sources, and I try to make sure I note this in any listings.
Many are naturally-deceased insects discovered and saved by me, customers, family, and friends. I'm grateful to everyone who saves me treasures!
Some of my insects are purchased already taxidermied and are from sustainable insect farms overseas. Here's a statement from the insect vendor I get these taxidermy beetles from:
"My insects come from insect farms which help to provide a sustainable and eco-friendly living for people in developing countries. By purchasing from me, you are supporting people who make their living by working with nature, not against it. The vast majority of my insects come from international insect farms. Some are farmed for food, but most are farmed for the "scientific and artistic dried insect trade". The good news is that insect farming is usually a sustainable practice. I make every attempt to purchase my insects from responsible sources, so when you purchase an insect display from me, you are also helping to promote insect and native forest conservation. I am required to carry a U.S. Fish & Wildlife "Wildlife Import Permit" in order to import my specimens, so they are also regulated in that way. It is illegal for me to import insects that are endangered, and it is also illegal for me to import live insects."
How many pieces can you electroform at once?
I have three 1L baths, so at minimum I can electroform 3 pieces at once. And keep in mind, each piece is in the bath for at least 24hrs, sometimes up to 48hrs.
However, I can fit multiple pieces in each bath IF they have the same plating area, and won't crowd each other and physically 'shadow' another piece from receiving copper deposit. The rule of thumb for electroforming is to push 0.1 amps of power per 1 square inch of platable area - maybe that TMI for you, but bear with me. This means that pieces sharing a bath need to all have the same platable area. Otherwise, larger pieces will 'rob' power from smaller ones meaning they won't plate, and smaller pieces can burn if they're subjected to higher amps than they should receive. More complicated than you thought, right? There's a fair amount of math involved!
This is why I tend to produce 'batches' of pieces - it's easier from the production side of things, both with prepping pieces AND with electroforming them.
Do you accept custom orders?