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Tips, Techniques, and Questions -- Technical questions or tips

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  #1  
Old 2006-02-08, 5:22pm
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Default Official Thread: Tink Electroforming Kits Q & A

I've decided to create a central place where folks can ask questions about using the electroforming kits that John and I put together.

I encourage everyone to ask any and every question they have: You can be pretty darn sure someone else out there has the same question, but doesn't want to ask it!

To kick things off, Jenny found a typo in the booklet:

Page 5, Step #5 should read:

5. Use about 9” – 10” of the remaining 10 gauge copper wire to make your cathode holder (see images at end of booklet)

I read this thing literally a hundred times. And made a lot of other people read it, too. If this is the worst mistake, then I guess it's not too horribly bad. I guess. LOL! I tend to prefer perfection. Who would have thought it?
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  #2  
Old 2006-02-08, 6:39pm
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I thought I would post this here as a handy reference for where to get the copper solution:

Rio's phone number is: 800-545-6566Order # 335-074
Midas Bright Electroforming Copper Solution
One Quart (which is exactly what you need for your 1000ml beaker)
$16.45




DalmarCopper Electroforming SolutionWe mix this product specially for electroforming. It can also be used for plating. It contains chemical brighteners for a bright finish. Acid base Use with a copper anode. Order No. C-1. $ 19.95 qt
Telephone: (239) 275-6540 Fax: (239) 275-1731




Shor International
www.shorinternational.com
Copper Mirror Plating Solution - Order # 45.208
1 qt $25.99
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  #3  
Old 2006-02-09, 10:48am
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Thanks, Mary Beth!

How do you know if you have your current output adjusted correctly?

A good rule of thumb: If the copper deposit on your work is a dull, pink, putty color, your current is too low. It the deposit is really dark, powdery and grainy, your current is too high. What you’re shooting for is the look of a nice, new copper coin.
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  #4  
Old 2006-02-09, 5:10pm
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A kit recipient writes:

You mention in the booklet that once the bead is done and if you want to keep it the shiny copper look it should be "sealed". What type of sealer is needed ? If it's a special type of sealer, where can I purchase it ? Also you mention all sorts of patinas that can be used. Since this is soooo new to me, can you also explain this.

Patinas are the “finish” on the copper. Like the blue/green finish on the Amaya’s Song vessel on my Currently Available Work page in my sig. Patinas can be any color at all, and there are tons of products and make it yourself recipes out there for getting different patina/finish colors and effects.

You can use many things as a sealer if you wish to keep the copper from oxidizing. I’ve never used any, because I don’t like the look of bright copper. I either just let a piece age gracefully or I apply a patina. If you do want to seal the surface and keep it shiny bright, there are a number of options. You can use a clear lacquer sealer from any craft store. You can also apply finish waxes.

If you have a Michaels Crafts nearby, take a look at the Sophisticated Finishes product line they carry. They not only have instant (sort of) patinas in a bottle, they also have a primer/clear sealer that should do what you’re asking.
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  #5  
Old 2006-02-09, 6:41pm
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I admit to being completely clueless about how to get the various surface treatments of the copper. I love the look of texture that others have accomplished. Is that done by texturing the paint somehow? For example, how would one achieve the globular texture? I am assuming that if the paint is smooth, the electroformed piece will end up smooth...
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  #6  
Old 2006-02-09, 8:29pm
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My recent work has been very smooth, as I'm in "smooth mode" right now. LOL! This one was totally slick and shiny before I fumed it with ammonia to make it get the nice verdigris patina:





Any crustiness or texture you see on the above piece is in the patina.

Now, last March I was in "nubbly mode". And I think that's what you might be referring to when you say texture. The following two pieces have a heavier application of copper, AND it was applied at a slightly faster speed than the piece at the top of the post:





These last two nubbly pieces were treated with Sophisticated Finishes (the stuff from Michaels) Patina Green Antiquing Solution.

There are a million and one things you can do to affect the finish of your work. Those of you who work with silver might have liver of sulphur around. You can use it on copper. I have used the Vigor brand Silver/Gold Oxidizer with great success to give a nice, aged look to the copper with zero texture or crustiness added.

Jenny, you are correct to a certain degree: If your conductive paint coating is smooth, you CAN get a nice smooth finish. But if you electroform it more quickly (higher current setting) and for a longer period of time, it WILL gain texture, as you can see from the last two pics posted above. Right after painting, both those works were completely smooth!

I've seen folks glue no-hole beads to their work, then put the conductive paint over it. You can use leaves, as one of our LE members does with SUCH flair and panache!!! You can even use wax on the surface of your piece and electroform over that!
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  #7  
Old 2006-02-09, 9:08pm
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Thanks! That is exactly what I wanted to know. My first test bead is ready to go and I will do it tomorrow. Approximately how long does this take? I realize it will vary depending on the look one is after...but smooth vs. nubbly will take how long?
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  #8  
Old 2006-02-09, 10:24pm
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Hmmm.... I've never had a piece take more than 24 hours in the soup. I take it out and check it every couple of hours, and when I think I like it, I stop. Sometimes I change my mind a few days later and put it back in. If you do this, just make sure you've cleaned your copper really good to get oil (from your hands) and dirt (from the air/environment) and oxidation off the surface so it will work well for you.
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  #9  
Old 2006-02-10, 3:22pm
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Tinkerdoodle,

My 1st (ok, 2nd, but ask Sue H-K what happened, I'm not tellin'...) piece is in the "soup" right now. It's a vessel that I made a week or two ago specifically for my Tink kit....

It's currently sitting at 1.59A and started at the 0.50A like the book said. It has moved up on it's own (is this right???)

I kind of like the ammonia coloring you did on that one vessel Tink. This particular vessel might look good that way, don't know yet....

Now to go look at the Tink store, b/c she's evil and put more fun stuff there I see..... *giggle*
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  #10  
Old 2006-02-10, 3:31pm
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Stacy, the current should not change at all. The voltage WILL change. This is referred to as the Constant Current function of this rectifier.

Turn the rectifier off. Remove the black lead from your cathode holder. Turn the top (amps/current) knob all the way down (counter clockwise). Turn the bottom (voltage) knob all the way up (clockwise).

Re-attach the black lead to your cathode holder. Turn the rectifier on. Both displays should read zero. Carefully turn the top (amps/current) knob clockwise. You will see numbers in both displays changing.

Adjust the top knob until the readout is about .15 amps. The rectifier will maintain this setting as until you change it yourself. It will automatically adjust the voltage (bottom readout) to maintain the .15 amps shown in the top window.

PS - I'm guessing that when you say "...started at the 0.50A like the book said.", you're referring to Kate's book? I have found that for the size work I do, that's way too high, but keep in mind that there is no cut and dried right or wrong in this process. Experiment... Play... Find out what you need to do to get the look YOU want on YOUR work.
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I have 12" and a limited number of 9" ready to go! BULK PRICING AVAILABLE

Also Available in
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Last edited by Tink; 2006-02-10 at 3:51pm.
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  #11  
Old 2006-02-10, 5:46pm
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I just rated this thread a 5 - let's all do this
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  #12  
Old 2006-02-10, 10:50pm
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well, it went to zero once or twice and I moved the piece around again and it stayed at 0.50 then.... I'll try unplugging, etc. at next set up.

for now, I'm cleaned up for the night and am praying that the piece I'll show you here stays ok! I'm afraid to touch it too much or brush it w/brass brush (which I don't even have yet...) b/c I'm worried that the copper will come off (trauma left over from first piece!) I think the 1st piece hadn't had paint on correctly and this one was mostly ok.... (the swirl on the back side and the one side handle came off in the beaker... the handle b/c I had the lead wire wrapped around it and when I went to rearrange it, it came off b/c the lead wire was wrapped around it too tight, and the swirl I'm not sure why) I'm going to maybe re-dip it later and add back the swirl and the other handle. I'm waiting for my muse to give me her decision on this!!! LOL

Meanwhile, may I present to you, "Social Ceramic Engineeress" (long story, kind of had to be there... LOL) Firstpic is the front, 2nd the back...



Made 2 honker vessels tonight at least one with decent handles, Tink!!! Thx for sending the vibes, you were SOOOOOOOOOO here in the studio for that moment!!!
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  #13  
Old 2006-02-11, 1:40am
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Yay!!!!!! It's darling!!!

It does look a bit shiny though... As if it isn't etched or sandblasted.

Trust me: If you have properly prepped the piece, you can scrub it to your heart's content and nothing will pop off. In fact, instead of using one of those brass "toothbrushes", I use a wire brush on my Dremel.
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High-temp, military grade 1/4" hollow mandrels are now available in my Etsy shop!
I have 12" and a limited number of 9" ready to go! BULK PRICING AVAILABLE

Also Available in
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  #14  
Old 2006-02-11, 10:53am
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ok ...this may be a stupid question but....there are various plating solutions out there gold, solver etc....can we use the same kit and different anodes with the differnet solutions..ie silver anode silver solution..??

crystal
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  #15  
Old 2006-02-11, 10:56am
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Rule #1: There are NO stupid questions!

Yes, you can use the same equipment to do silver and gold.They are typically applied OVER your copper electroformed layer. You just need the right solution and anodes, as you mentioned.
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Old 2006-02-11, 12:38pm
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coooollllll ! I am soooo there!

crystal
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  #17  
Old 2006-02-11, 12:42pm
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Excellent!

I've had some people ask if they can do the entire process with silver or gold, as opposed to using copper and plating over it with silver or gold. Yes, you can. But copper is the easiest to use, and the least expensive. Once you get your copper layer built, it's very easy to add some layers of the more expensive metal(s).
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High-temp, military grade 1/4" hollow mandrels are now available in my Etsy shop!
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  #18  
Old 2006-02-11, 2:47pm
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Tink,

Yes, it is shiny! and I know, I read the part about etching... but ya know, being the true "problem solver/manipulator/PITA" that I am, I had to try ONLY etching the part where I wanted the design.... so that's what I did.... painted on the design with etch cream, let it dry, washed it off, dried the piece, then painted the copper paint onto it.....

Now, tell me that you've tried that (which I'm guessing you might have) and that it doesn't work.....

.....ok, I actually HOPING that you haven't tried it before and that it might work........

(btw, thank's you-know-who for your sweet PM!!!!!)
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  #19  
Old 2006-02-11, 4:09pm
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Thanks, Tink and everyone else, for this great thread!

I am also in 'nubbly mode' (constantly!!) and have experimented with an additional way to get the nice little nubs. Kate Fowle Meleney uses the technique and it's as easy as pie. I encase those teeny tiny glass balls in the conductive paint prior to putting the piece in the bath. You have to make sure that the paint completely covers the balls.

There are examples in Kate's gallery, particularly the waist edges on Green Hydra (the top bead) and the longitudinal spines on Red Hydra (the 2nd from the top), both of them on this page: http://katefowle.com/gallery_new_biotech.htm

There is another example, but on a much much smaller bead, on this page: http://sgb-midatlantic.org/hall_of_fame.html. It's Karen King's Summer 2004 Winner.

The tiny beads come in a few different sizes. For instance: http://www.craft-ware.com/Glass_Beads.htm

Be sure to entirely cover and seal the beads inside the conductive paint.

JanMD
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  #20  
Old 2006-02-11, 6:21pm
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I have a few questions...so glad you made this thread Tink!

1) How thick should your electroforming coat be. (my first attempt was kind of thin and then peeled off)?

2) When applying "found" objects what kind of glue do you recommend?

3) What is the best way to apply the ammonia (and is it regular household ammonia)?

4) So you don't have to seal it unless you want that bright copper finish?

TIA!
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  #21  
Old 2006-02-11, 6:30pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sunnyone
ok ...this may be a stupid question but....there are various plating solutions out there gold, solver etc....can we use the same kit and different anodes with the differnet solutions..ie silver anode silver solution..??

crystal
Do keep in mind that many of the metal solutions contain cyanide (even some of the copper solutions out there), and as a result, during the electroforming process cyanide gas is released.

A little background... Cyanide crystals are used to to complex and dissolve the cyanide oxides (the "metal") into solution. The cyanide in excess of what is required to dissolve the oxide resides in the solution in ion form, acts as an electrolyte and is referred to as "free cyanide". So what you have to choose from are three types of solutions:

"Free Cyanide": This is the most dangerous stuff. It has ionized cyanide floating around in it and shouldn't even be handled without a respirator, rubber gloves and apron and major ventilation.

No "free cyanide": Contains only the cyanide required to drive the oxides into solution. Safer? Technically yes, but I'd use the same precautions as above.

No cyanide: What you really want to look for. While not a safe as Nestle's Quick, a good deal safer than the other options. I did notice that Dalmar offers a non-cyanide silver plating solution, and I'm sure there are other vendors and metal solutions available.

So this dissertation in a nutshell: Cyanide... Bad.

Please... Please... PLEASE!!! Be careful.

Here is a link containing some info regarding the effects of cyanide:
Cyanide
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  #22  
Old 2006-02-11, 6:40pm
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1) How thick should your electroforming coat be. (my first attempt was kind of thin and then peeled off)?

Did it separate from the paint, or did the coating and the paint both peel off the glass?

Electroforming is just a heavier application of copper than plating is. How thick should it be? Hmmm... Thick enough to get the effect you want It will take some experimentation to learn what works for you, AND to learn what that stage looks like on the finished object. If you look at my piece above, especially the side view, you can see that it's really quite a thin (comparatively) application.

2) When applying "found" objects what kind of glue do you recommend?

I have used everything from white craft glue to epoxy. It didn't seem to make any difference, provided you will be electroforming OVER the found object. The coat of conductive paint also helps hold it in place.

Ultimately, it's the copper that will hold it all together, and your glue just keeps everything where you want it until the copper is laid down.

3) What is the best way to apply the ammonia (and is it regular household ammonia)?

I use a gallon ziplock bag, but you can use Tupperware or whatever else you like. You're essentially crating a "fuming cabinet". I have some plastic
ornament stands from which I hang my work. I put that inside the bag. On the "floor" of the bag, I have a folded up paper towel, and I pour ammonia on the paper towel. Enough to make it nice and stinky

Zip the bag shut, and you're good to go! I like my "fuming cabinet" to be clear so I can watch the progress of the patina.
4) So you don't have to seal it unless you want that bright copper finish?
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  #23  
Old 2006-02-11, 6:48pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by prairieson
Please... Please... PLEASE!!! Be careful.
Yep. What HE said. That's one of the reasons that I don't go that far in my booklet. It can be a very, very dangerous process. Proceed at your own risk.
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  #24  
Old 2006-02-11, 8:38pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tink
1) How thick should your electroforming coat be. (my first attempt was kind of thin and then peeled off)?

Did it separate from the paint, or did the coating and the paint both peel off the glass?

Electroforming is just a heavier application of copper than plating is. How thick should it be? Hmmm... Thick enough to get the effect you want It will take some experimentation to learn what works for you, AND to learn what that stage looks like on the finished object. If you look at my piece above, especially the side view, you can see that it's really quite a thin (comparatively) application.

2) When applying "found" objects what kind of glue do you recommend?

I have used everything from white craft glue to epoxy. It didn't seem to make any difference, provided you will be electroforming OVER the found object. The coat of conductive paint also helps hold it in place.

Ultimately, it's the copper that will hold it all together, and your glue just keeps everything where you want it until the copper is laid down.

3) What is the best way to apply the ammonia (and is it regular household ammonia)?

I use a gallon ziplock bag, but you can use Tupperware or whatever else you like. You're essentially crating a "fuming cabinet". I have some plastic
ornament stands from which I hang my work. I put that inside the bag. On the "floor" of the bag, I have a folded up paper towel, and I pour ammonia on the paper towel. Enough to make it nice and stinky

Zip the bag shut, and you're good to go! I like my "fuming cabinet" to be clear so I can watch the progress of the patina.
4) So you don't have to seal it unless you want that bright copper finish?

Oh thank you! These are great answers!

The coating and paint peeled off...maybe my surface wasn't etched enough? I peeled it all off and will try again. I have been experimenting a lot...to see what works...I love this kit, Tink. Thank you!
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  #25  
Old 2006-02-11, 9:44pm
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4) So you don't have to seal it unless you want that bright copper finish?

True. Personally, I'm not very fond of that "new penny" look. If you just leave it as is... not sealed... it will develop a lovely patina all on its own.

If you like that "old penny" look, but don't have the patience for it to develop, you can cheat. Like I do. LOL! Use some blackening agent like Vigor Silver/Gold Oxidizer on it. Swab it on with a cotton swab or brush it on with a paintbrush. It will get black right away. Let it sit like that for a little while... At least until it's dry.

Once dry, take a soft cloth and buff it. The raised portions will get a nice warm glow, and the recesses will remain darker. Very, very nice, IMO.
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I have 12" and a limited number of 9" ready to go! BULK PRICING AVAILABLE

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  #26  
Old 2006-02-11, 9:47pm
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Anna, I decided the other day that I didn't need any stinkin' etchin' or sandblastin'. I painted on an intricate design, let it dry, then electroformed it. The whole thing popped off afterwards!

I *knew* that would happen. I guess sometimes I just have to experiment even if I think I know what the outcome will be. I believe that's how the truly great discoveries are made!
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High-temp, military grade 1/4" hollow mandrels are now available in my Etsy shop!
I have 12" and a limited number of 9" ready to go! BULK PRICING AVAILABLE

Also Available in
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  #27  
Old 2006-02-11, 9:58pm
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shor international offers cyanide free solutions as well. wow...thanks for all the tech speak though...now I really understand it!

crystal
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  #28  
Old 2006-02-12, 8:36am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tink
Anna, I decided the other day that I didn't need any stinkin' etchin' or sandblastin'. I painted on an intricate design, let it dry, then electroformed it. The whole thing popped off afterwards!

I *knew* that would happen. I guess sometimes I just have to experiment even if I think I know what the outcome will be. I believe that's how the truly great discoveries are made!

The last piece pieces I electroformed have the design sticking tight...I guess my piece just needed more etching. Wow this is really addictive!

I also tried the ammonia "fuming tent" ..very cool!

I think I may know another way to get the darkened patina....I have blackened silver by putting it in a bag with a peeled hard boiled egg...I am going to try that next for darkening the copper...more experiments..I LOVE it!
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  #29  
Old 2006-02-12, 12:38pm
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This feels like that Letterman bit...
http://www.coscosci.com/patinas/patinaformulas.htm <---Is this anything?

Lil
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  #30  
Old 2006-02-12, 12:42pm
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That's one of my new favorite links, Lil! Thanks for posting it here!
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I have 12" and a limited number of 9" ready to go! BULK PRICING AVAILABLE

Also Available in
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