Salt Water Etching Workshop with Jesse Daniel Bert

I was invited to participate in an evening workshop at CALU featuring artist, Jesse Daniel Bert. This also means I got to spend time at my alma mater with my former professors – which is always a blast! The process of etching copper with kosher salt and distilled water is quite fascinating. It also has a STEAM component that would be a great fit with this year’s action plan (but, more on that in later posts).

First, we prepared the copper surface.

Next, we used an oil-based Sharpie marker to draw a design on the copper.

– – – The salt water solution was pre-mixed for us, but we did get a demo – – –

Then, we hooked it up to a power converter – red for our copper piece / black for the copper tube provided.


This was a really cool process. You could see the current running through the water.


You could also see the copper falling away from the piece.


After 45 minutes (three 15 minute intervals, between which we cleaned the copper surfaces) the copper looks like this:


There are several applications for this process, two of which are jewelry and printmaking. Dr. Lloyd refreshed us on how to set up and run the press, demonstrating on his own etched copper piece. I inked mine up with Akua (of course).


And, here’s the result.


From beginning to end, I think this process could be done in the classroom. The materials are safe for student use and the application of salt water etching is multi-faceted. Would you try this in your classroom?