Etching metal without acid, or electrolytic etching, requires electricity and a super saturated salt water bath. Once your resist is applied to your metal the etching process takes anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. It's safe and easy.
I wanted to share a couple of pictures of the etching class I taught on Friday evening...
Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of everyone's end result. It's usually how I roll. I completely forget about picture taking.
Tonya is waiting for everyone to finish cleaning their metal so that we can apply the resist. We used rubber stamps and StaZon Solvent Ink pads for the resist. It works pretty well for the short duration our pieces are in the etching bath. You can also use PnP, transparencies, sharpie paint pens, shellac, nail polish and floor wax. I'm sure there are other things that work, but these are just a few I know about.
The two people in the picture to the right are waiting to check their pieces in the etching bath. There is a lot of down time with etching. You can set a timer and move on to another task when you aren't in a class. The ladies spent a lot of down time sharing pictures of their artwork and stories about their lives. It's really nice when people of all different walks of life come together for a mutual task.
If you are interested in learning more about this method of etching, please visit my Etsy shop where you can find my etching tutorial and a tutorial on image transfers on metal with PnP.
People also use etched metal plates for things other than jewelry, like book plates, mixed media pieces, etc.