I have had several people comment on the copper pentacle I have made, shown here. Along with an Altar, The Pentacle is another important tool you will want to have in your collection.
It is not as difficult as you may think to make one yourself! As usual, when it comes to your magical “tools,” it is almost always best to make them yourself if you are able.
Most of all, I am not what you would call a craftsman by any stretch of the imagination. If *I* can do it, so can you! So come along for the ride and have some fun making “stuff”!
Here are the materials you will need:
- An iron (yes, like for clothes)
- Steel wool #000 (very fine)
- Penny Brite metal cleaner (Even standard alcohol pads or SOS pads will work)
- A 6″ copper disc (you can use other sizes but you will have to adjust other things)
- A 5.5 in. x 5.5 in. image of what you want to etch onto the disc
- A medium sized wire brush
- 1 qt. Liquid Ferric Chloride (BE CAREFUL!)
- Press-n-Peel PCB Transfer Film (or similar from another manufacturer)
- Pliers or some other instrument that you can use to pick up a very hot piece of copper.
- A black Sharpie. Medium or fine point.
- A glass or plastic container large enough to hold the Ferric Chloride liquid and submerge your disc into.
- Clear strong packing tape.
- Most of all, protective gloves and eye-wear HIGHLY recommended!
First, prepare your image. You want to make sure that it is a high quality image and you should size it to around 5.5 in. x 5.5 in. to give your pentacle an even, plain border.
This is important! You will also want to “reverse” your image, especially if there are words or letters on it so that when it is transferred to the copper, it appears the way it would when printed. This was not necessary for the image used in this example.
Print the image using a laser printer on the “dull” side of the Press-n-Peel film. Be sure to put the film in the printer the right way or this will not work.
Once printed, cut a 6.5 inch circle with the image in the center from the film. Try not to touch the printed image. Be sure your hands are clean and as free as possible from natural oils etc. Perhaps use the gloves in this step? Now set the printed and cut out image aside in a safe place.
Next, clean your copper blank with steel wool and Penny Brite or use an SOS pad. Rinse the copper thoroughly with soap and water. Dry completely with a lint-free cloth.
First of all, do not use steam! Set your iron between the “acrylic” and “polyester” settings (275 to 325 degrees F). Once it has heated up, place a blank (must be blank!) piece of paper over the copper and iron the copper for 1 or 2 minutes to warm it up.
Remove the blank paper and carefully place your printed and cut out image on the copper, printed side (dull) down. Place it carefully! It is not a good idea to life it off and reset it.
Now, carefully place the blank paper over your image on the copper disc. Iron the disc slowly until the temperature of the disc matches that of the iron. DO NOT USE STEAM! This usually takes 1 1/2 to 4 minutes.
Remove the blank paper. Using the pliers, gently pick up the disc with the film still attached and run it under cold water, front and back until cool. Slowly peel the Press-n-Peel film off of the disc. Very gently wash the disc in soap and water to remove surface oxidation. Dry carefully with a lint-free cloth.
You will probably notice several small areas where the ink did not attach to the copper. Use your Sharpie to fill in these areas. Be sure they are covered completely! The ink from your Sharpie will resist the etching process, so be sure not to make any extra marks anywhere.
Now prepare your container. Make sure it is clean and dry. Place it in a safe place with a lot of room around it to work.
Put on the gloves and protective eye-wear!
Carefully pour the contents of bottle of Ferric Chloride into your container. Avoid splashing, this stuff will instantly stain clothes!
If you wish to keep the back of your pentacle from etching, cover the back completely with the clear packing tape. Also on the back, place a piece of packing tape along the center that is long enough to allow you to submerge the disc in your container while attaching the tape to the sides. This will keep your disc from settling on the bottom of the container. In addition, this will help the etching process along and additionally provide sharper lines.
Carefully lower the disc, image side down, into the container with the ferric chloride. Attach the ends of the tape to the sides of the container. Remember you want the disc to “float” submerged in the ferric chloride, not sit at the bottom of the container.
Finally, once you are sure that it is secure, walk away and leave it alone. The etching process will take approximately two hours. In any case, do not leave the disc in the ferric chloride for more than 2 hours or consequently your etched image will start to lose it’s sharpness.
One the time has elapsed, carefully lift the holding tape off of the container and, using the tape, lift the disc out of the solution and hold it above your container for a minute or two to allow excess solution to drain back into your container.
Rinse under cold water to remove excess ferric chloride and then remove all of the packing tape from the disc. Still under running water, use the wire brush (or steel wool) to scrub the Press-N-Peel image off of your disc. Be patient, this can take some time.
And There you have it! Now you can polish up the disc gently using very fine steel wool, or use a Dremel tool with rubbing compound and a cloth wheel.
For more information just use Google and search for “Copper Etching” videos. There are a lot of them out there.
If, for whatever reason, you do not want to do this yourself, or if you have questions about the process, feel free to send me an email (SapereAude@thelemicknights.org) requesting help or a quote. You will, of course, need to provide your own prepared image if you want a quote.