14 | chasing and repouss materials, tools, studio | 15Kate Case, Two brooches, 18k gold, 3.3 inches long. Photo by the artist.Davide BigazziSuperficiSterling, 4½" by 7"Photo by George Post.Argentium Sterling SilverArgentium Sterling Silver is a patented silver alloyinvented by Professor Peter Johns at MiddlesexUniversity, England in 1996. It is basically sterlingwith at least 92.5% pure silver and the remaindercopper with trace amounts of germanium. Whenthis metal is heated, the germanium oxidizes beforethe silver and copper, preventing the production ofcuprous oxide (CuO 2 , the cause of firescale) withinthe metal and forming a transparent protectivecoating of germanium oxide that reduces theformation of tarnish-causing sulfur compounds inthe air.Argentium Sterling Silver is an excellent metal tochase. It is much softer than sterling when annealedand quenched at the optimum time. It forms easilyand textures well. I was able to chase a piece of 26gauge Argentium Sterling Silver far longer betweenannealings than sterling. It stretched farther beforetearing as well. The fact that it can be heat hardenedmakes working in thin gauges a practical alternative.The color is a little whiter than sterling however,which may not be to your liking.Gold and Its AlloysNot surprisingly, gold is considered a royal metal. Inaddition to its beautiful color and ability to resist oxidation,gold is one of the easiest metals to chase andrepoussé. Pure gold is so malleable, in fact, that objectsmade in it will not stand up to normal wear, so for centuriesgold has been alloyed, usually with copper and silver,to create metals that are hard enough to be practicaland yet maintain some of the beauty of the pure metal.Gold alloys are described in a system that assigns thedesignation of 24 parts (called karats) to a pure metal,and describes the ratio of noble metal to alloy. If 12 ofthe 24 parts are pure gold, for instance, the alloy is 50%gold. The most common alloys in the United States are14k (58.5% gold) and 18k (75% gold). Both of theseare suitable for chasing and repoussé.In addition to changing toughness, alloy metalsare used to alter the color of gold. If more copper isadded, the gold has a pink color and becomes easierto repoussé. Whiteners like platinum, palladium, ornickel make the metal harder to work.SteelMild steel, also known as low-carbon steel (approximately0.3% and lower carbon) is weldable and easyto forge when hot. It is used for decorative ironworkKirsten SkilesForged and formeddetail in steel.Photo by the artist.as well as steel construction. Mild steel can be annealedby heating to cherry red and cooling slowly. Itcan be worked in the same way as nonferrous metals,but it is harder and not as plastic when worked atroom temperature. Heavier punches and hammersare needed to move steel than those used for moremalleable metals.
16 | chasing and repouss materials, tools, studio | 17Jim KelsoAdzuki LeafSpecialty MetalsMokume GaneMokume gane (meaning “wood grain” in Japanese) isnot a metal, but a constructed panel made up of fusedlayers of nonferrous metals, often fine silver and copperwith some brass. Fused and forged mokume ganecan be easy to chase and repoussé.Shibuichi and ShakudoThese traditional Japanese alloys are used primarilybecause of the unusual colors that can be achievedthrough patinas. Shibuichi is an alloy of three partscopper and one part silver; shakudo is an alloy ofcopper and gold. Both lend themselves to chasingand repoussé.BimetalThis is a manufactured product in which sheets of either22k or 18k gold are fused onto a base of sterling.This can be used for chasing and repoussé as long asthe gold layer is not too thin. I have used 24 gaugegold laminate with success, though there is a limit tothe height of relief that is practical and how often themetal should be annealed.The term "gold-filled" refers to a variation onbimetal that is not recommended for chasing and repoussébecause it is difficult to anneal without burningthe relatively thin gold layer.Copper, shibuichi, shakudo, 2¾"Photo by the artist.AluminumAluminum (Al) is the most abundant metal in theearth’s crust. It is a silver-colored, ductile, corrosionresistant material that is very soft in its pure state. It issomewhat difficult to find pure aluminum, so I havebeen using 5052 and 6061 series alloys for chasingand repoussé. The alloy 5052 contains 2.5% magnesiumand .25% chromium. The alloy 6061 contains1.0% magnesium, 0.6% silicon, and 0.25% each ofchromium and copper. Both alloys are much harderthan pure aluminum and take several annealingsto work. Aluminum is lightweight and maintains abeautiful gray color while being chased. When usingpitch, it is better to wipe the residue away thanto burn it off.Trudee HillBettie Paige Belt BuckleAluminum, copper, and bronze4" by 5½" Photo by the artist.NiobiumNiobium is a metal in a group called the reactive metals,which also includes titanium and tantalum. It isa beautiful bluish-gray color until it is anodized, atwhich point the color possibilities are broad and dynamic.It cannot be annealed in the standard studio(reactive metals are annealed in a vacuum), but it isso slow to harden that a great deal of forming can bedone before annealing is needed. Niobium is a soft,ductile metal that can be chased in pitch, low-temperaturethermoplastics, and in wood. Niobium can becolored with heat, but most people color it using themore predictable and precise process of anodizing, inwhich the metal is suspended in solution and an electriccurrent is run through it. The different levels ofcurrent create different oxide layers and colors. If youare planning on anodizing the niobium, you shouldtake care not to heat it when removing it from thepitch.AnnealingThe shape, size, and grouping of crystals that make upthe structure of a metal determine its ability to bend,stretch, fold, and twist. All of these actions break largercrystals into smaller ones, and this has the effect ofmaking the metal less malleable. Fortunately, we canuse the process of annealing in which small crystalgroups realign themselves into larger crystals, to restorethe malleability of a metal. It is this single abilitythat allows us to raise flat sheets into vessels and toforge spoons from flat barsand to create the lovelywork you see throughout this book.Each metal and alloy has a specific annealingtemperature, but the general rule for traditional jewelrymetals is to heat to the point where a dull redcolor (pink in the case of silver and very faint pinkfor Argentium) appears when viewed in dim light. Itis best to achieve this with a broad, bushy flame so theeffect is uniform throughout the piece. To ensure this,warm the entire piece, keeping the torch in motionthe whole time. Especially in chasing and repoussé,it is important to avoid uneven workability that canresult from selective overheating or underheating.Hold at annealing temperature for a few seconds,then quench in water only after the red color fades.Heavily worked sterling can crack when thrown immediatelyinto room temperature water at red heat.Argentium Sterling Silver is even more sensitive.Niobium sample plate by the author.Chasing and Repoussé ToolsSteelIt takes only a trace amount of carbon mixed withiron to make steel. The steel used in making chasingtools contains between ½ and 1½% carbon, a specificamount that creates a steel that can be hardened andtempered. The process is explained in detail in ChapterEleven, but for now, we’ll focus on the shapes ofthe tools themselves.Most tools are made from round and squarerods, but some of my favorite tools are from rectangularand hexagonal stock. Tool stock is commerciallyavailable in rods of various cross sections andin several grades of steel. The most common are oilhardening(O1) and water-hardening (W1). A thirdtype, called air-hardening(A1), is used in industry butrarely by studio artists. The “1”in these designations indicatesthat they contain 1% carbon,which places them in the centerof the ideal range. Of thesethree, oil-hardening steel is byfar the most common.Most chasing tools usestock in the quarter-inch tohalf-inch range. Repoussétools are usually made fromlarger stock. The length ofchasing and repoussé tools dependson the process (whetherthe tool will move across thesurface of the metal or will beheld vertically as in the stampingprocess) and the size ofTool blanks come in many sizes and shapes.the
48 | chasing and repoussé basic chasing and repoussé | 49LiningSteps in Chasing and RepousséBefore we go into details it will be helpful to have an oveview of the process.1. Lining (on the front) 2. Removing the workpiece from the pitch3. Cleaning off the pitch residue4. Repoussé (on the back)5. Chasing 6. FinishingThe first step in traditional chasing and repoussé iscalled lining or tracing and it is done with the linertool described earlier. The goal is to create a lightlyindented narrow groove on the top side of the piecethat results in a slightly raised line on the backsidethat outlines the repoussé areas. Wait until the pitchis at room temperature before beginning to line, orthe pitch will be too soft to prevent the surroundingmetal from sinking. Place the liner on the drawn lineand angle the tool so that the leading edge is off themetal as shown. Some of the methods described earlierfor transferring a design create a shallow groovethat make a path for the liner to follow.Direct the leading edge of the liner towardyourself, pulling gently and smoothly as you strikethe tool with the chasing hammer. The leading edgeis usually towards the chaser, unless there is somethingabout the design that makes this position awkward.As long as you have complete control over thetool and can see the working tip of the liner, any directionwill work.Lightly tap the top of the tool while sliding theliner smoothly forward in very small increments.The liner must remain in contact with the metal at alltimes. A successfully chased line is even in width anddepth with no extraneous marks. On the backside ofthe metal, the raised line should be just visible andsmooth. If the tool is too sharp, it can cut through themetal. If it is too wide, it can easily slip, making unwantedextra marks that are difficult to remove. Makesure the blow of the hammer is in line with the axis ofthe tool. Hitting the tool at an angle will cause it to slip.To check out the effect on the other side, youwill need to remove the metal and flip it over. Practicewill help you learn to anticipate what the raisedline will look like on the back by looking at the lineon the front.The goal of lining is to create distinct raised outlinesthat are easy to follow when doing repoussé, butnot so large that they remain when you have finishedthe piece. If your line looks choppy, you are digginginto the metal with the back edge of the tool. Tipthe liner up so that it is almost perpendicular to thesurface of the metal. If the liner catches and chattersacross the surface, you have rocked the tool too farforward and the leading edge is making contact withthe metal. Tilt it back a little bit. If you are having troublemoving the liner across the surface, lubricate theaction by swiping the liner across a cotton pad soakedYESNONOIn this drawing the toolis angled too far back sothat the heel (shaded)drags in the metal andmakes a rough line.The properposition and anglefor lining.At the proper angle forlining , only the shadedarea makes contact withthe metal.Here the tool is angledtoo far forward so thatthe leading edge (shade )digs into the metal, againcreating a rough line.
50 | chasing and repoussé basic chasing and repoussé | 51It’s great when someone new to lining “gets it.”It’s like learning to ride a bike. It seems so confusingand hard to control at first but once you feel the balance,and can follow a specific path with your tool,your body never forgets.Liner SizesDifferent designs require liners of different sizes. Inthe beginning it is important to design somethingthat requires only one or two different liners. As youdevelop skill and complexity in your work, you willmake or acquire a number of different liners to matchstraight lines and the various curves involved. Besidesmaking lines, straight and curved liners are used forcreating textures, backgrounds, and for undercutting.Exaggerated examples of leaning too far back (B) or forward(F) with a lining tool.action by swiping the liner across a cotton pad soakedwith mineral oil. Do not use too much oil or the toolwill slip.To chase a sharp turn in the design, work fromboth sides, meeting at the point where the line turns.For curves, use a curved liner or a small straight linerin fine increments around the curve. If the radius ofthe curved liner matches the arc of the line, it can beused like a stamp (with a light tap). If not, rock andturn it around the curve. You will find which approachis easiest to control as you work.A selection of liners, seen from the front and in profile.The tools are polished to facilitate smooth travel acrossthe metal .This example shows proper lining from the front. Notice thateven in the closeup, the line is smooth and uniform.Dotted LiningAnother method for outlining an image is to makea dotted line on the front of the metal. These raisedbumps will become an outline of the repoussé areason the back. The advantage of a dotted line is that it isquick to make, but the bumps can be difficult to coverThis is the same piece, seen here from the back side, wherethe line appears as a raised ridge.up. Just like using a liner, the dots need to be even andall the same depth. You can make your own dottingtool or adapt another tool (such as a center punch) bysanding the tip just enough to create a small mark thatdoes not cut the metal but just shows on the backside.Hold the dotting tool perpendicular to themetal and just above the surface as you continuallystrike it, allowing it to rebound between blows. Thisprocess can be done with the metal secured to a pieceof hardwood. Once dotted, the metal goes back intothe pitch for repoussé.Using a curved liner to make a tight arcing line.Dotted lining is done with a pointed tool that has been softenedenough to insure that it will not poke through the metal. Theexamples above show the front and back of the same piece.
52 | chasing and repoussé basic chasing and repoussé | 53Choosing Proper Tool LengthChasing tools come in many lengths and thiscan be confusing for beginnings. A chasingtool should be easy to grip and comfortable touse for however long it takes to finish a design.Very short tools in large hands cause too muchcramping, while a tool that is too long will bedifficult to control. My hands are pretty large,so I am comfortable with 4” chasing tools, especiallyliners. I say this to my students all thetime, and then I grab my favorite short chasingtool and put up with the cramping becausethat tool is perfect for what I am doing at thatmoment. If the perfect tool is stressful to hold,take frequent breaks to shake out your handsand wrists.This toolis too longfor propercontrol.Removing the Metal from the PitchOnce you have lined the whole image, repoussé workcan begin on the back. Sometimes the tapping andmodest deformation of lining will loosen the metaljust about when you're ready to turn it over. If themetal does not pop out of the pitch, however, you willhave to use a little heat to remove it. Holding onto anedge of the sheet with a pair of needle-nose pliers orsturdy tweezers, lightly heat the metal in the middlewhile gently pulling outward and upward.Burning Residue Off the WorkpieceWhen I first learned chasing and repoussé, I wastaught to burn excess pitch off the back. The dirt andfumes created make this an unpleasant and potentiallydangerous way to remove pitch. If you do this, useappropriate ventilation and ultraviolet safety goggles.I particularly try to avoid the burning method withasphaltum-based black pitch because the fumes areterrible and the soot often ends up coating the studio.Place the metal on a firebrick dedicated to burningpitch or on a nest of binding wire over a plate orpan of steel. Burn the pitch to white ash, then rinsethe metal to remove the ash before putting it in thepickle. Remove any lumps of pitch from the firebrickor steel pan before using it again. The temperatureneeded to burn off pitch will anneal most metals andcreate a deep firescale in sterling silver.Safety NoteBurning pitch creates a very intense lightthat can be hard on your eyes. Use greenUV rated goggles during the entire processof burning the pitch to white ash.Wiping Residue Pitch Off the WorkpieceMy preferred method to remove pitch residue is towarm the metal slightly with a heat gun and rub offthe pitch with a cotton pad and a little mineral oil.After wiping off the pitch, clean the oil from the surfaceof the metal by washing it with a degreasing soap,Burning away excesspitch is possible, but itmakes a mess and a lot ofsmoke.rinsing, and drying. You may need to scrub the metalwith a light abrasive such as baking soda or pumice toget rid of all the oil. If water separates on the surface,there is still some oil.SolventsMany books suggest soaking a cloth or paper towelwith lacquer thinner or turpentine to dissolve pitch.Although successful in removing pitch, I’m not a fanof solvents in the studio. I would rather avoid thedangers inherent in getting rid of the soaked rags andbreathing the fumes. If there is a significant amount ofresidue, chill the piece in a refrigerator for a few minutes.Chip off as much pitch as possible then warmthe piece and wipe the remainder away with a clothsoaked with mineral oil.PickleNever put metal with pitch directly into pickle. Pitchwill make a gummy mess in the pickle bath that canonly be removed by dumping it out and cleaning thepot. Check the workpiece front and back to be sureall pitch has been removed before pickling. Burnedpitch leaves a white ash on the surface. Rinse this offbefore putting the piece in pickle.Flattening the MetalBefore you flip the metal to repoussé the backside,you may need to flatten the sheet if it has warped alittle in the lining process. Turn the metal over so thatthe raised line shows and place it on a smooth steel orhardwood surface. Using the side of you hand, pressor rub flat all the areas surrounding the design elements.Soft mallets can be used directly on the metal.This tool is soshort it willprobably beuncomfortableto hold forvery long.Whether you use a torch or a hot air gun to loosen theworkpiece from the pitch, heat just enough to soften thepitch. Avoid allowing the pitch to ignite.My preferred method is to wipe away excess pitch with acotton pad soaked with mineral oil.
62 | chasing and repoussé basic chasing and repoussé | 63David HuangSuzanne PughCleaning up Unwanted MarksIf you sit in a chaser’s studio and listen for a while youwill notice a couple of interesting things. The tap-tapof the chasing hammer against the tool has a particularrhythm, unique to each artist. This is a very peacefulsound and just one of the many things I enjoyabout this art form. Every once in a while you maynotice another sound, that of “oops” coming fromthose same chasers.Even the most skilled artisan makes a few mistakesnow and then. It is difficult and sometimes impossibleto remove a textured surface if you changeyour mind. That said, there are some great little toolsthat can come to your aid to help you remove unwantedmarks and rough areas by smoothing themout or texturing over them.Riffler files are delicate tools used to removemarks in irregular tight places. For most clean up,choose a fine cut file such as a #4. The coarser the file,the more marks you will have to remove to create aconsistent surface. All kinds of abrasive papers, fromwet/dry to diamond papers are great for cleaning upsurface marks. Sand the surfaces just as you wouldin any fabricated or cast piece. Needless to say, therewere no flexible shafts or Dremel tools available tochasers and repoussé artists for most of history. Althoughmuch faster and easier in most cases thanhandwork, grinding and sanding are easy to overdowith power tools, resulting in unwanted marks andsometimes unwanted holes. Go slowly at first whenusing burs and sanding disks. Take into account thatyou may not know how thick some areas of metal areafter chasing and repoussé.GraversAlthough most metalsmiths know what a graver is,few have learned to use one. The skill involved in en-Gravers aresharpened on awhetstone thendeburred on fineabrasive paper.graving is formidable and not something that manyof us have the time to develop. However, a graver isextremely useful as a clean-up tool in chasing andrepoussé and does not require the same amount ofcontrol and precision as figurative engraving.Gravers come in various sizes and shapes. Igenerally use a #40 flat graver for cleaning up easyto-reachareas and the #6 onglette for corners andfolds. Both are useful for cleaning up solder jointsand repairs as well. The size of the graver you choosedepends on the size of the area you are cleaning up.The graver and handle should fit so that the handleis in the palm of the hand and the tip of the gravernear the end of the thumb. Many jewelry textbooksinclude instructions on how to prepare and sharpen agraver and some suppliers include instructions whenyou buy them.Gravers are used to cut metal, creating smoothbright lines, flat planes, and wide grooves. They needto be sharpened frequently. It is frustrating and dangerousto use a dull graver. Gravers are sharpenedon a fine-grained whetstone with light oil used as alubricant. The most important part of sharpening ismaintaining the angle of the face of the graver which,for most gravers, is either 45° or 52°. Hold the faceagainst the stone, lock your wrist, and move the toolacross the surface from side to side. This movement isdone entirely from the elbow. Think of your arm as amachine that can only pivot from this point. To avoidrocking the tool, quickly slide it across the surface.A few strokes are all that is necessary. Use the wholesurface of the stone. If you continually sharpen in onearea, you will create a groove in the stone.If you find that the face of the tool is changingshape, stop. Sharpening fixtures (tools that hold thegraver at the correct angle as you sharpen) are availablefrom many suppliers. It takes some time to insertthe graver into the fixture, and many of the engraversand stonesetters I knowfind it quicker tosharpen by hand.However, it is alot of work to reseta graver facethat has been incorrectlysharpened,and youmay find a sharpeningfixture agood investment.Using a graver for cleanup.
www.LKindlerPriest.comLinda Kindler PriestLinda Kindler Priest combines repoussé elementswith gems to create work that is simultaneouslyelegant and whimsical. She says, “I am a repousséjewelry artist. I sculpt realistic images directly intogold and use these reliefs as the basis of my one-of-akindwearable art. The process allows me to work ina small scale and create fine detail in little sculptures.The metal is intensely hammered all over. There is nota millimeter of the original metal that has not beenworked and reworked. The surface has subtle variationseven in the smooth background spaces, whichgives the gold depth and character.It takes a lot of time to create realistic images,to acquire detail to finish the metal correctly. Gold, abeautiful lustrous metal, is well suited for this.”When Pigs Fly brooch14k gold, pink sapphires1¾" by 1⅝Photo by the artist.Maltese Falcon? brooch14k goldamethysts, tourmalines,peridots, garnet, ruby2⅝ by 1½"Photo by Gordon Bernstein.Great White Egret brooch14k goldnatural aquamarine crystal, pearl3¾ by 1¼"Photo by Gordon Bernstein.Reflection of a Blue Dragonfly brooch/neckace14k gold, blue boulder opal, sapphire, pearls, silk cord3¾" by 2"Photo by Gordon Bernstein.| 153
www.LeonardUrso.comLeonard UrsoLeonard Urso learned chasing and repoussé fromProfessor Kurt Matzdorf and perfected his skills asa chaser and designer at Onieda Silversmiths, one ofthe oldest flatware companies in the United States.Grounded in this tradition, he has gone on to pushthe limits of large scale handwrought sculpture, creatingfigurative copper sculpture that stand more than25 feet tall. He says, "For me the human figure, at oncefamiliar and exotic, is the vehicle whereby form engendersmeaning. This form shaped by hand must reflecthuman life; life defined by men, women, historyand culture.Copper is the primary material I use in mysculptures. It can be shaped in a fluid manner and offersa rich red color palette that reflects the warmth ofhuman flesh. The hammer is my principle tool.I am fascinated by the hammer technique mostlybecause through all cultures this simple techniquehas been used to tell stories and record history.Time Bein'Copper18" by 24"Photo by Allan Farkus.AncestorCopper65" by 50"Photo by Bruce Miller.Time Beings, Number 25Copper. Each component is 28" by 26"Installation, one person show.Photo by the artist.Working on AncestorPhoto by Bruce Miller.Time Beings, in progressCopperPhoto by the artist.| 155