Following are the steps for this method. For optimal results, treat 620 sheets at a time.
- Remove the factory oil from the aluminum sheets. A paste made with marble powder (calcium carbonate) and 91% isopropyl alcohol works well for this purpose. Scrub the surface until the paste starts to turn black.
- Use hot water and Dawn dishwashing liquid to wash off the paste, and then rinse the aluminum sheets thoroughly with water. One last rinse with a 10% vinegar and water solution will remove any lingering oil. Finally, set the plates on end to dry.
- Make a stack of plates, placing cutouts, ovals, string, or fabric between the plates. This is the creative part of this technique. Just don't use anything important, as it probably won't survive the rest of the process intact.
- Place the stack of sheets in the roaster and add water just until covered, as shown in Figure 4. You might need to place a heavy object (such as a brick) on the stack to keep all the plates under the water.
- Turn the roaster to its highest setting. When the water starts to simmer, use a wooden spoon to stir in ½ cup of Cascade Complete, and then add ¼ cup of TSP.
- Cook the plates in the chemical solution until they reach the desired color:
Figure 4 Plates in the roaster, covered with water.
- If you want the plates to be brown and golden, with a medium-to-light pattern (as shown in Figure 5), cook the stack for 20 minutes after adding the detergent.
- If you want near-black plates, with deep patterns (as shown in Figure 6), cook the plates for at least 30 minutes after adding the detergent. Longer cooking, up to two hours, will make the plates nearly black.
For example, I created a set of plates by placing a doll's dress between them and cooking the plates for an hour. Figure 7 shows the dress and plates immediately after removal from the roaster; notice how dark the plate is under the dress. Figure 8 shows the final results. Figure 9 shows another example; I created this set by sandwiching a doily between the plates.
Figure 5 Golden-brown and rainbow-colored aluminum plates.
Figure 6 Black plates.
Figure 7 This doll's dress made a very good impression.
Figure 8 The finished pair of doll's dress plates.
Figure 9 I placed a crocheted doily between two plates to create this set. I frequently use sets like these to make a diptych of photographs.
Figure 10 Plates drying. These plastic-covered drying racks can be purchase in any hardware or kitchen tools store.