Repousse & Chasing

Repousse & Chasing
The techniques of repoussé and chasing utilize the malleability of metal, forming shapes by degrees. There is no loss of metal in the process, as it is stretched locally and the surface remains continuous. The word repoussé is French and means "pushed up". The method of Repousse is defined as a method of creating a relief design by hammering or pressing the reverse side of a metal surface.  Chasing is the same process working from the front of the work often with the same tools. Small tools for creating decorative textures and patterns are also called chasing tools. Chasing is the opposite technique to repoussé, and the two are used in conjunction to create a finished piece. It is also known as embossing.

It can take some time to create jewelry using Repoussé and chasing, although with practice, complex and delicate pieces can be made which would be virtually impossible to complete using any other method. It takes a lot of time due to the repetition of a number of time-consuming stages: the preparation of a sheet by annealing; cleaning to remove the pitch between annealing and work; setting up; and careful work with punches. One method of repoussé and chasing is to place a thin sheet of metal on a bowl of heated Pitch. The pitch is slightly soft, and hardens when cooled, or becomes liquefied when heated. The purpose of using pitch is to provide a solid base to work on, while allowing the metal to be pushed out and shaped without obstruction.

Repousse' is done in metals ranging from thin soft copper sheet that can be worked with wooden hand tools up to heavy steel plate worked hot with power tools and machines.

It can be used to create gold and silver jewelry, plate amour, decorative architectural panels or can be pieced together to produce sculpture in the round such as the Statue of Liberty. The statue was formed by copper repoussé in sections using wooden structures to shape each piece during the hammering process.

Consider adding pieces of repoussé to you jewelry collection- you won’t be disappointed they are individual works of art!

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