various chasing and repousse methods

Repousse & Chasing | |

I'd like to kick off some discussion about the various methods of chasing/repousse. I've read about there being different methods and heard various styles mentioned, but never have had anyone explain the differences. Names I hear are Eastern style, Western style, Japanese style. The simplified description of the way I've been learning is:

1) transfer image to front of copper sheet
2) use a liner/tracer and chase lines of design in front
3) turn it over and push metal creating relief (repousse)
4) turn it over again and chase in details

I just purchased a UMBA video of Kirsten Skiles doing a "high relief" chasing/repousse at the 1999 Metal Madness. She started on the back by creating the relief by pushing from the back about 1/2" outside the design all the way. In doing so, she said she could get much higher relief without stretching metal too much. Then she turned it over and chased the design on the front.

What are the other methods? Which methods are these (western, eastern, etc.)?


marilyn's picture

Your description of pushing

Your description of pushing from the back to get a higher relief confuses me.Like you, I know that there are different styles but not much about them. Years ago, I took a workshop with Marcia Lewis and also had her book. The things that she brought to show were better than what I saw in the book. However, it's a good educational book . She had recently studied with a Japanese master and had adapted some of their techniques. We made tools and mated the working ends. That's right. Not shiny and bright but slightly textured. She told us that the Japanese work off a high mound of pitch.marilyn


Fred Zweig's picture

Marilyn, I believe Marcia

Marilyn,

I believe Marcia was one of the priviledged few who studied with Satuo Ando when he visited here in the 70's. The technique he taught is called Uchidashi by the Japanese and the metal is worked on a very hard pitch that is kept uncomfortably warm. If you note the texture around my beetle it is caused by these matted tools that Marcia showed you how to make. In Japanese these are called Dashtagane and the craftsman has to make them in a variety of sizes.

Fred Zweig
Metalsmith


marilyn's picture

I don't recall her saying

I don't recall her saying anything about the pitch being hot. She the class use Seattle Pitchworks pitch which I already was doing. I wouldn't consider it hard but I don't have much to compare it to. The only other kind that I have used is the nasty black stuff.

marilyn


Bob Wilkerson's picture

Beginning Repouse

I'm beginning in this area as well. While i've worked with sculpture for a long time this is my first metal venture. I'm taking a short workshop from the Torpedo Factory in Alexandria Va. The basic process you posted is consistent with what he is saying. He is also a student of the Japanese styles so I will try to get info to share on that as well.

Are you aware of anyone working with copper on grand scales? I have several pieces that would be approximately 18" x 30" in 12 guage sheet. Does anyone have any idea how size might impact the repouse process?

Bob


Fred Zweig's picture

Bob, Great to hear you are

Bob,

Great to hear you are delving into Repousse metalwork and the thrill of molding metal into shapes you desire. Your sculptural work will provide you with many skills you can use in this process. Understanding bas relief is very helpful.

Who is your instructor? Uchidashi is the japanese version of repousse and chasing. It allows for high relief and undercutting in the design.

Fred

Fred Zweig
Metalsmith


Bob Wilkerson's picture

Instructor

Fred,

Thanks for your encouragement.

My instructor is Michael Brehl. I love your work. My sketchbook for the next year or so is focused on doing a lot of reproduction work of traditional coppers in the style of the Kwaikiutl. I've promised myself to do two traditional pieces and then try two contempory versions of the designs that involve more relief. After a dozen or so pieces in these two variations I want to try several masks. Having never worked in metal before, I'm sure I've continued my artistic habit of biting off more than is logical, but it has worked in two mediums so I wanted to try a third.

I've just ordered Moving Metal, are there other readings you would suggest?

Bob


Fred Zweig's picture

Bob, Moving Metal is a good

Bob,

Moving Metal is a good book for you to be using. Mr. Steines deals with the larger scale projects.

You might consider using hammers for your initial work and modifying old chisels for the scale of your work.

Fred

Fred Zweig
Metalsmith


Bob Wilkerson's picture

using forms

I've read reference to using wooden forms to create a pattern and then hammering the copper into the forms. Historical refence to traditional "coppers" make reference to "the secret of hammering the copper into wood" to create the traditional T ridges and the "bowl" effect of some of the surfaces, so i presume this has been around for some time. I also recently read a bio for a weather vane artist that indicated the used such blocks to fashion weather vanes as well. Does this sound like reasonable practice for one of a kind pieces? Is the process to hammer the copper into a recess or over a sculpted positive image?


Fred Zweig's picture

To create a wooden mold to

To create a wooden mold to model the metal into might be usedful when producing a number of items. Wood is often used to hammer over to help create the resistance needed to create some particular shapes. If you are going to sculpting the metal the most satisfying method is using hammers and punches on a variety of different surfaces. Some craftsmen and artists use pitch to give resistance and stability when modeling the shape. Others form into sandbags or stumps with shallow depressions. The metal is very plastic when you understand it's properties and develop a vocabulary of techniques and skills. It is important to "feel" and "listen" to the metal to understand how it is going to shape and bend.

The Statue of Liberty was created using sheet copper partly formed over wood models. The Steines book also shows the use of carpet to hammer onto. This may prove effective for what you are planing to create.

Please let us see your designs and progress and we will be more than glad to offer help in any way we can.

You have chosen a very heavy gauge to work with. The thickest I have ventured to work is 16 gauge. You will need to do a great deal of annealing on the copper. Hearing protection is a must.

Best,
Fred

Fred Zweig
Metalsmith


visitor's picture

beginning simple repouse.

good morning fred,
ive been reading your very interesting reolies on this subject.i'm very interested in rennie mackintosh designs and would like to have a go at making a fairly simple panel(to start)from copper in a similar art nouveau style.
can you give me some advice on what basic tools and materials are needed?
many thanks in anticipation.
regards derek mallett
somerset.uk.


Fred Zweig's picture

Advice for copper panel

Welcome to the forum Derek,

Much will depend on your skill level. A great deal of the Mackintosh designs do not require a much relief to create. I would suggest starting with relatively light gauge copper, such as 32 gauge, and try embosing the light gauge metal on a resilient surface such as newspapers or a foam backing. If you use this light gauge you can score it with a ball point pen on the front and then press out the areas that you want raised by turning it over and pressing with a large wooden bead or the back of a wooden file handle. A darning egg might be good for larger surfaces. As your skill develops you can advance to thicker metal and eventually to steel tools and punches using pitch as a backing.

Let me know if this makes sense. Remember I have no idea what your experience is or your skill level is.

Best Regards,
Fred

Fred Zweig
Metalsmith


visitor's picture

a specific attempt

Fred,

I saw your advise above on starting with a light guage copper....unfortunately i was well into a project with 12 guage, which now has a crack. I'm doing some soul searching and more than a little down on myself even though it was a first piece. I'm recreating, or trying to a series of Northwestern Coppers, so if I'm to stay true to the traditional design, I have to go 16-12 guage. My crack developed in a v shaped channel in the piece on the edge. I suspect that i simply did not anneal the metal well enough. However the relief was almost 1/4 inch so maybe that was the problem? I started the v with an liner simply pushing down the center. I repeated this about 6 times using a wooden form the last two times. The shape was great although it clearly needed more chasing on the front side. At least one person has told me to hammer the metal more before i go for the V, pushing the metal towards what will become the center of the v depression, but frankly i'm stumped. Any ideas?

Bob


Jeremy maronpot's picture

Cracking repousse and repairing

Bob,

Going straight for a deep V shape from flat with a liner tool means you are mostly stretching the metal at the center of that V, so it will be getting thin in that area and remaining thick everywhere else. I would push out a U shape first with lots of spread out hammer blows,annealing several times if needed,and then shape the U into a V. Or you could use a giant tool that is shaped to the contours of the V channel and push the sides of the V out at the same time as the center. Using the biggest tool you can (within reason) really helps get the work done evenly. Breaking through the material is just part of the learning process. I TIG weld any cracks when I am doing repousse. I have also silver soldered cracks closed or added a patch by soldering a thin piece of sheet to the back of the design.
You should be able to get PLENTY of depth from material that thick. I do think it is helpful to start on thinner gauge and move towards thicker after you know how far thin stuff will stretch. I like 16 gauge
http://www.maronpot.com


visitor's picture

chasing / repousse.

Hello, I have been working metal for 30 years - chasing in heavy guage copper 1/16 to 1/8 or better. I have refined my techniques in many ways, however I still glue my designs to front of my copper after having annealed of course, when in doubt anneal. I also have 2 copies of the design, as the one glued to work will be destroyed, you need one to copy any fine lines later. I always do the main design lines first,( oh keep your designs simple) be aware of negative space. As I said annealing is key, and you will be annealing a lot, as you may know working metal it gets work hardened and can crack ( metal fatigue). Sand bags, hardwood blocks, steel blocks, I have used pitch, not for me. Its fine for thin metal.
My work is decorative and functional art.
I use nail sets, quite cheap, and grind to chisel shape. After a while you will be able to texture with simple tools.
Try. it my web is griffelmetal.com

Griffe


Bob Wilkerson's picture

You clearly know much that I

You clearly know much that I need to learn. I checked your web site...very nice. Do you teach at all?

Bob


Stephen Fitz-Gerald's picture

website...

Stephen Fitz-Gerald
Do you mean www.griffemetal.com ?


visitor's picture

chasing and repousse.

Hello, I have found over the years that for larger and thicker copper using a steel block and working from the front works for me, as one knows annealing is key,. I make my own chasiing tools from nail sets ground to the desired shape.
Store bought chisels work fine for larger work. check out griffemetal.com
if you need more info let me know.
Griffe.


visitor's picture

Repousse

Greetings to all,
I hope this is still an open thread. I am a member of the Adrian Empire, and have vowed to learn all things metal the "old Way"
I have been doing Repousse for about 4 years or so. I was learning through my master. I am trying to find more Historical References to the creation of the tools. As part of my Apprenticeship program, I am required to make my own tools and research the process of each. I have made my tools out of cold rolled Steel 5/16 and 1/4 inch depending on the size of metal. I am no longer attached to my master as he has moves far away. Does anybody have any ideas or thoughts?
Alistrina


Rich Waugh's picture

Alistrina, Welcome to

Alistrina,

Welcome to ArtMetal. If you want to be exactly "period correct" for the era around 1000 A.D. you'll have to forgo the use of modern cold-rolled steel. Sorry, but they didn't have production steel in those days. What they had was wrought iron made in bloomeries and steel that was made by selecting a part of the bloom that had the appropriate carbon content. There is some archaeological evidence that there was crucible steel production in some of the Islamic countries, namely India and what is now called Sri Lanka, in the 9th to 11th centuries, but not in Europe.

The modern production of steel didn't start until the end of the 18th century with the invention of the Bessemer process, so your chosen period is well before any modern steels.

If you want to be absolutely period correct for the 10th century in Europe,you'll need to make your iron in a bloomery and forge it to decent wrought iron for the main bodies of the tools. Then yo select portions of the bloom that are harder, i.e. more carbon, and forge them until they are relatively homogeneous, mixing in more or less of the low-carbon wrought until you get a steel that can be hardened but is not brittle. Once you have that bit of steel, you forge weld a small amount of it to the body of the tool. This provides a hardenable cutting tip. The same is done for your hammers - they have a soft wrought iron body with harder steel faces forge-welded to them.

As with all things historical, you are going to have to decide just how "period correct" you really want to be. The processes of chasing, carving and repousse' are the same today as they have been for more than a thousand years, though we now use readily available modern steels for our tools. If you want to go to the furthest extreme of correctness, you should figure on a couple of years to learn the making of bloomery iron, making steel and then making period correct composite tools.

Do some Google searching on bloomery iron, blister steel, Wootz steel and the like to read more on the history of steel making.

If you wish to discuss this further here, which I certainly encourage, I suggest you start a new thread. That way it will be something others can find later with a simple search.

Rich