How to Electroplate Baby Shoes

Written by dan harkins
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How to Electroplate Baby Shoes
Pay to have someone bronze your baby shoes--or do it yourself. (PhotoObjects.net/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images)

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:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Detergent
  • Craft glue
  • Copper wire
  • Sealant solution
  • Conductive paint
  • Airbrush with tubing and compressor
  • 2 copper anodes
  • 6 plastic containers
  • Bronzing solutions
  • Sandpaper
  • Buffing machine
  • 5 amp power rectifier
  • Degreaser (optional)
  • Shine-intensifying solution (optional)

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Remove the laces from your baby shoes. Wash the baby shoes and laces separately with clothing soap. Let them room dry fully.

  2. 2

    Replace the laces, tie them and craft glue their bottoms into a natural position that you'd like to see in the finished product.

  3. 3

    Affix 1 foot of copper wire to each shoe, perhaps a heel loop or lace eyelet.

  4. 4

    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.

  5. 5

    Remove the shoes from the sealant and place them into two empty plastic containers. Let them dry fully.

  6. 6

    Spray on an 227gr. conductive paint in a corresponding colour, using your airbrush according to manufacturer's instructions. Allow it to dry.

  7. 7

    Pour your bronzing solution into two plastic containers, enough to cover each shoe. Place your shoes into the bronzer.

  8. 8

    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.

  9. 9

    Remove the shoes from the bronzer and rinse them quickly with water. Set them in containers to dry.

  10. 10

    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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