Various metals like silver, bronze or copper have been used for decades to embalm memorabilia into lasting statuary. One of the most iconic examples are baby shoes that a child has outgrown. The method of electroplating a baby's shoes with these metals to bring out a chrome-like shine is a service for which some pay handsomely. Performing the task isn't as difficult as you might think. However, assembling the equipment might be a little costly.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Craft glue
- Copper wire
- Sealant solution
- Conductive paint
- Airbrush with tubing and compressor
- 2 copper anodes
- 6 plastic containers
- Bronzing solutions
- Buffing machine
- 5 amp power rectifier
- Degreaser (optional)
- Shine-intensifying solution (optional)
Remove the laces from your baby shoes. Wash the baby shoes and laces separately with clothing soap. Let them room dry fully.
Replace the laces, tie them and craft glue their bottoms into a natural position that you'd like to see in the finished product.
Affix 1 foot of copper wire to each shoe, perhaps a heel loop or lace eyelet.
Pour 1 gallon of sealer solution equally into two plastic containers and dip each shoe fully into each container. Leave them for a half-hour.
Remove the shoes from the sealant and place them into two empty plastic containers. Let them dry fully.
Spray on an 227gr. conductive paint in a corresponding colour, using your airbrush according to manufacturer's instructions. Allow it to dry.
Pour your bronzing solution into two plastic containers, enough to cover each shoe. Place your shoes into the bronzer.
Connect your two copper anodes to a DC power adaptor. Submerge each of the anodes into a container of bronzer (1.5 gallons' worth) and plug the adaptor into outlet power. Let the electroplating proceed for three to five hours; remove the shoes every hour and use fine-grit sandpaper to grind down any clumping.
Remove the shoes from the bronzer and rinse them quickly with water. Set them in containers to dry.
Buff the shoes with a coarse material on your buffing machine, progressing to a cotton attachment.
Tips and warnings
- Use a degreaser after the final drying to clean your shoes again, then dip them in a shine-intensifying solution (also available at several online outlets) for about 10 minutes. Then dip them one last time in your sealant solution for a final protective coating.
- Concentrations and composition of the bronzing solutions will differ according to the manufacturer. Mix and apply your bronzer and sealant strictly according to your manufacturer.
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