Covering leaves or other items in metal in a process called electroplating can turn a fragile leaf into something that will last for many years. The electroplated leaves are beautiful and decorative, and can be used as jewellery also.
Select a leaf. Any leaf can be used. Keep in mind that you will not be looking at the pretty colours once the leaf is electroplated, so look for a shape that you like rather than nice colours.
Wrap the leaf base in 18 gauge wire.
Paint both sides of the leaf with silver conducting paint.
Fill a container with a salt suspension of the metal that you intend to use to plate the leaf. In the case of copper plating, you would use copper sulphate solution. Your kit should contain the correct solution.
Connect an alligator clip to the wired leaf, and connect that to the ammeter with a copper wire. The negative outlet of your ammeter should be connected to the negative outlet on your power supply, and there should be two wires connecting the copper plates from the bath to the positive outlet on your power supply.
Pour the solution into the electroplating container until it covers the leaf, and turn the ammeter on to between 1 and 1.5 amperes.
Leave the leaf for at least 20 minutes, until it is covered in the desired metal.
Remove the leaf from the bath and rinse it, then clean it with acetone.
An aquarium bubbler can help increase the mass of metal attached to the leaf in the same amount of time. The longer you leave the leaf in (up to 80 minutes), the more mass will coat the leaf.
Tips and warnings
- An aquarium bubbler can help increase the mass of metal attached to the leaf in the same amount of time.
- The longer you leave the leaf in (up to 80 minutes), the more mass will coat the leaf.
Things you need
- An electroplating kit
- A leaf