About My Metalworking Process

I start most of my work in my sketchbook, as drawings. Many concepts never make it beyond the sketchbook to actually be made. Even works that are started, are not always completed the way they were originally designed. I am constantly refining a design, right up until the end (and sometimes later). A concept in […]

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How to request custom handmade jewelry

I recently joined the site custommade.com (here is my profile). This is a well done site that allows people to post requests for all types of custom made items directly from the makers. These days with advances in metals manufacturing almost any design is possible. However, not all designs are compatible with traditional techniques. I […]

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Another chasing pitch experiment

I think I am going to like this pitch. I had some casting wax that I had experimented with as a chasing pitch, a la David Huang, but I didn’t like it. It was not sticky enough to hold in a vessel and was too soft. So this morning I heated up some pine rosin,  added […]

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Me in my Studio

This is me working at my bench  in my studio. It is messy and probably not as organized as it should be. My jeweler’s bench was found at a thrift store. It is cluttered with halfway done projects and stuff I’ve collected over the years. One day, I will clean it up and make spaces […]

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Jen’s Blog

While this has nothing to do with metalwork it has everything to do with life. My friend Jen started a blog recently about her journey over the last two years having a son with cancer. Her stories are so poignant; her writing exceptional. If you know anyone who has gone through this journey or have […]

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Metalsmith Secret Cleaning Product

An in-between step that most metalsmiths skip over in their tutorials and descriptions is cleaning. Cleaning a piece (before or after soldering, during chasing and repousse to remove burnt pitch, before raising or planishing, etc) is pretty important. A lot of people use a “pickle” solution (usually some brand like Sparex, or a homemade recipe) […]

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Chasing and Repoussé

Chasing and Repousse - Rose Brooch The technique of Chasing and Repoussé dates from antiquity and was used throughout many cultures renowned for their metalwork, though it may have originated in the middle east. One set of tools is used for both processes, which is why they are typically referred to as one technique. Chasing refers to the working of the metal from the front, while repoussé is worked from the back. In combination these processes can be used to create detailed relief patterns in metal.

I’ve always drawn and painted, and so working in chasing and repoussé feels like a natural translation of this onto metal. I start a design on paper typically, and then finish the design on the computer using vector illustration software.

Once the design is complete, it is transferred to the metal. My method of transferring is to paste the drawing to the metal with rubber cement, and then to use an exacto knife to trace my chasing outline. Using the exacto knife gives the tool a little bit of a groove to follow as I work, which helps keep the tools from slipping.

With the paper design removed, the metal is embedded in pitch. I keep my pitch in cast iron pans and soften it with a torch, then press the metal into the softened pitch to hold it in place. Then I chase.

after the first chasing is complete, the metal is removed, cleaned, and placed face down in the pitch. Then I begin the repoussé.

The process of chasing followed by repoussé is repeated several times until the relief is complete. In between the metal might harden and need to be annealed (heated with a torch until soft).

After the chasing and repoussé is complete the piece is cut out and formed, and additional metalworking techniques are used to finish the piece. The exception is in working on a vessel, when the forming has to be done first, because the hammering involved would destroy the design.