While researching different types of smithing and applications. I found that Repousse is an interesting technique dating from Antiquity. An age-old metalworking technique where a malleable metal (gold, silver, copper, tin and bronze) is hammered from the back to create an ornate design. Also accompanying Repousse is Chasing, Chasing works from the top side by sinking the metal to create the desired effect. Astonished with the creations of forms, raised design and sunken relief, I Inquired about it a little more.. I came upon Victoria Lansford’s work, displaying her technique on High Relief Eastern Repousse. Who offers her modern-day approach to the age-old technique.. As well as an article on Ganoksin website, going into detail about techniques, tools and application.
Being the diverse artist that I am, I thought I would give it try “What do I have to lose”. I decided to make some of the basic tools on my own. For the pitch bowl: It was a salsa container purchased from Wal-Mart. Placing a piece of lead at the bottom and filling it 2/3 with quick dry cement, until it sets. Then I removed the legs on the salsa bowl giving it a round bottom. Filling the remaining area with Green pitch from Rio Grande. If utilizing the bowl with a sand bag, you can achieve a wider radius of working angles. With a little help of my brother Pat’s toys, I was able to make the basic tools out of tool steel, nail punches and ruined stamps. This was achieved by cutting, sanding, filing, polishing and flame hardening the tools.
“Now I’m ready to play” Working with my hammer, punches/tools, steel block, chasing bowl and base (sand bag). I began to work out my designs on paper, then transferring then onto the silver (annealed) with a magic marker. Using a liner tool I chase the design into the silver, on top of a steel block. In order to show the design on the back. Placing the silver onto the chasing bowl (top side down) with a little heat it will stick to the pitch. Now Im are ready to start hammering out the designs. This will be done in several process, as the metal will work harden and need to be annealed again and again.
In the pictures are my first attempts at creating a pair of earrings utilizing the Repousee technique. Dabbling for 20 min at a time, it has taken me 3 to 4 hours to get this far (just on the Repousse) Still not finished with the earrings I decided to share my experience so far with you.