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What is Chasing & Repoussé?


Chasing & Repoussé is a technique used by Jewellers and Silversmiths.

It is the method of obtaining pattern on metal through relief created with steel punches hammered along or into the surface of sheet metal that is positioned on a semi yielding (supported) surface.

A decorative surface is created by using steel punches which are driven into or along in a linear style the surface of the sheet metal using hammers to create a protruding pattern or relief.

To enable the first process of Repoussé sheet metal must be secured in a flat position on top of a bowl filled with pitch. The pitch is warmed beforehand to a sticky consistency and once the sheet metal is placed in position and the pitch cooled becoming hard whereby the metal is supported and ready for use.

The pitch is usually contained within a bowl so the bowl can then be placed on a sandbag in order for the craftsman to easily turn or angle the bowl. The metal is secure and can be manoeuvred via the bowl to the required position or direction to allow the punch tools to create the design.

Once the initial relief pattern is created or raised by using the Repoussé technique, the sheet metal is removed from the pitch by warming, cleaned and then annealed ready for the fine detail to be added.

The void created by the initial Repoussé relief work is then filled with pitch, cooled ready for use and turned over so that the pattern can be worked with steel punches from the front in much finer detail, this technique is called Chasing.

As the metal hardens during these processes the pitch may need be removed, metal annealed, cleaned and re-pitched many times depending on the work required.

Variables exist throughout Chasing and Repoussé depending on:

  • The expertise of pitch use and annealing methods

  • The gauge (thickness) of the metal used

  • Depth of the relief created

  • Size and shapes of the punch tools.

  • The finesse of the craftsman

 

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