Guest tutor, Kumiko shares with you a beginner friendly guide on the popular jewellery making techniques of chasing and repoussé. Sharing a breakdown of the essential tools needed, a step-by-step guide as well as top tips to help you get started. You can find out more about Kumiko in our interview over on the blog, where she also features in our series, 'A Day In The Life Of A Jeweller' sharing her fascinating creative process which includes left-hand drawing, Japanese ink, beeswax lost wax casting and of course chasing & repoussé. We hope this guide inspires you to get creative with forming metal and experimenting with textures for those unique jewellery designs.
Chasing and repoussé are some of the oldest techniques of silversmithing and goldsmithing. They involve the use of a hammer and several chasing punches which are used to create outlines and to hammer a sheet of metal to give volume. Apparently, the famous Tutankhamun mask was made using these techniques!
The names originate from the French words, “chasser” “to chase” consisting of creating a design on the front of the metal and “repoussé” “push up” which is the act of pushing the metal up from behind - the two techniques are often used in conjunction.
The beautiful thing about these techniques is that although it takes time, you can hammer, anneal, re-hammer and re-anneal to reach the image you have in your mind.
I love these techniques because the finished objects are so tactile and unique with every hammer strike.
Always work where you have ventilation, especially when you are burning a pitch.
Wear an apron and safety goggles to protect yourself from the hot pitch in case the segments of the pitch break.
You can buy chasing-punches but also you can make your own (using concrete nails). You don’t need many.
The punches have different purposes:
The punches are designed for using with a doming block to create gentle curves, bowl shapes or deep half round domes which can then be used to make bead caps or fixed together to make round or lentil shaped hollow beads.
To engrave your own designs into metal, you can use gravers. When attached to the wooden graver handle, you can gently hammer these against your metal to create marks, engravings, lines, and textures.
TIP: These marks will then look even more distinct if you choose to apply a patina to your metal.
The pitch is hard enough to hold a sheet of metal and it is soft enough to receive hammer blows. I use resin based red pitch in a cast iron bowl.
You can also chase and repoussé on a thick, soft book instead of using a pitch as long as you are not hammering the metal too deep and your design is shallow. It is an easier and faster method to use, compared to a pitch because you do not need to take your metal off the pitch. Simply secure the metal with masking tape.
Relax your shoulders and hold the hammer very lightly so it springs back to your palm.
Use your thumb, middle and ring fingers to guide the punch and the index finger to hold it straight.
In our interview with Kumiko, we learn all about her jewellery making experience, how Japanese heritage and philosophy inspires her designs, more about her love for texture and show you some of Kumiko's incredible designs.
Kumiko also takes us on a day in the life of a jeweller! Watch Kumiko's fascinating creative process which includes left hand drawing, Japanese ink, beeswax lost wax casting, chasing & repoussé in the video below - also available to watch on the interview page.
There are so many different effects that can be achieved with metals, whether that's adding a patina, texturing or shaping. All textures and finishes can be created easily on a budget, so you don't have to spend a lot of money for amazing results! Read our advice page for all the inspiration you need to get started.
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