Enjoy watching this quick hyperlapse chasing and repoussé video.
Chasing and Repoussé is the process which embosses sheets of metal into 3D artwork by pushing out and adding relief back to areas of the work. The chasing & repousse process can be done to many kinds of metal, including copper, silver and gold.
Working from the back of a piece of metal Repoussé pushes the metal forward and creates a raised design on the front of the piece. Repoussé is followed by Chasing which, from the front of the piece, pushes the metal back into place and adds relief. Chasing refines the piece, adds fine detail and control to Chasing and Repousse artwork.
Chasing and Repoussé is a labor intensive and time consuming art. Both Jewelry and art can take a significant amount of time to complete, however the beauty and detail that can be achieved can be hard or impossible to achieve by any other methods.
In the video above, first the artwork is sketched out. The metal is annealed, annealing is a very important step to ensure that the metal is elastic and does not tear or break. Once annealer the copper can be cleaned. Sanding the copper further prepares the surface for a sketch to be applied directly with a paint pen. Starting with a Repoussé the small copper sheet is placed on top of a bowl of chases pitch.One of the reasons that Chasing and Repoussé is so time consuming is because of the annealing and cleaning process. You will be re-annealing your piece to keep it soft and clean off the resin pitch (make sure you have good ventilation for this). You can actually see the annealing process, when the artist takes the piece outside (around 1:30) in the video to clean and anneal it before starting the chasing process.
Recipe Chasing and Repoussé for pitch
The traditional working surface is chaser’s pitch which is usually a composition combining three substances: pure pitch, a filler (or stiffener), and an emollient (softening medium). There are a number of different recipes for making chaser’s pitch. One example is:
- 16 parts pitch
- 20 parts plaster of Paris
- 4 parts resin
- 1 part tallow
The pitch is heated until molten. Plaster of Paris is added a small amount at a time. Resin and tallow are then mixed in.
This pitch material can be re-used indefinitely if used and stored properly.
This Chasing and Repoussé process is achieved using steel punches and a hammer. Once the Repoussé is finished the piece is removed, cleaned and the inverted repousse is filled with pitch to that the chasing can begin. In the video the artist completes her chasing without pitch, but this may not be possible if you are doing complex or detailed work.
Once finished the piece needs to be cleaned and re-annealed. You can use turpentine or the blow torch to clean the piece, just make sure that you have very good ventilation, gloves, safety glasses (all the fun equipment to keep you safe).