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REPOUSSÉ & CHASING TUTORIAL - - by Chris Hierholzer

  • Leader
    June 27, 2012


    Join me in learning an ancient metalsmith technique called Repoussé & Chasing-

    My first exposure to the process was through my grandfather Carl in 1962. I have used
    it off and on since then, but it takes a lifetime of constant practice to master this craft and I feel I have only scratched the surface. 


    Repoussé and Chasing are metalsmith techniques used for thousands of years. Both are used to create decorative elements to gold and silver jewelry, silverware, vessels, religious items and architectural panels.

    The definition of the word Repoussé is from the French - "to push back" and is a metalworking technique in which a malleable metal is ornamented or shaped by hammering from the back to create volume.

    Chasing creates the details by working the piece from the front.  Sometimes, both Repoussé and Chasing tools are used on both the front and back of the intended design and are made of various materials, such as steel, wood and plastic.

    When making a shallow relief form, a supportive material such as pitch, sand, wood, plasticine or any soft material that gives under the pressure of striking a tool with a hammer is placed under the annealed metal. In this tutorial I am using pitch.


    This is just a short group of pictures to give the viewer a general idea of the process of Chasing and Repoussé. If you want to pursue Chasing and Repoussé, I would highly recommend Nancy Megan Corwin's book, "Chasing and Repoussé", published by Brynmorgen Press an sold on and Rio Grande.

    It has a wonderful clear and simple tutorial at the beginning of the book with historical notes and endless possibilities of working this technique. The book also provides photos of current works by artists using this technique. 




    A Zinnia was the inspiration for this piece


    I made a template using 24g copper - and used a sharp scribe to transfer the design.


    The design is now completely scribed and ready for the next step.


    The pitch is prepared by warming with a torch to soften and the metal is gently press end down. Once the pitch as cooled, I use a liner tools and small hammer to go over the design lines one more time.


    Remove the metal from the pitch


    Reheat the pitch, then turn the copper design over and place it into the pitch FACE DOWN.


    These are the tools I use for the Repoussé technique.


    Continue working the design on the back with Repoussé tools.


    Prepare to begin the Chasing Techniqueby removing the metal from the pitch- then reheat the pitch once again and place the metal design FACE UP- once cool begin to chase the design.


    REPEAT THE PROCESSseveral times by annealing the metal, Repoussé the back, reheat the pitch and Chase the front of the metal design.


    Once you are satisfied with the look of the piece, remove it from the pitch and lightly torch the metal to create a patina on the surface.


    Use a pair of metalworking shears to cut around the metal design. The finished copper sheet measures 1.75" x 2.5". Flatten the edges with a rawhide mallet. The piece is now ready to be set as a brooch or pendant.


    Below are 4 brooches of Repoussé with Enamel

    1/2" deep - 3"diameter tab set in sterling silver









  • Member
    June 27, 2012

    Very clear tutorial...Thank you Chris! Gabor

  • June 27, 2012

    Once again Chris, you are a jewel to offer this to everyone.

    Thanks, can't wait to give it a go with a flower from my garden.


  • Member
    June 27, 2012

    Chris, you are a genius! Thank you so much for taking the time to share your knowledge with us. Wish I could sit with you and learn directly.


  • Member
    June 27, 2012

    Chris, thanks so much! very clear and inspiring.

  • Member
    August 21, 2013
    wonderful tutorial Chris!!! Very clear and informative. Thanks!
  • Member
    March 11, 2014

    Chris , this is an excellent tutorial. Your pictures are great. You are a very talented fellow. Thanks for sharing.  Vince

  • July 18, 2014

    Hi Chris, loved your tutorial, your right when you said it takes a lifetime to learn this craft. I'm continually trying to find different tools to make the job easer. Your work is beautiful, and your skill shows your patients. Excellent work.


  • July 19, 2014

    An excellent tutorial, thank you. It's very clear and understandable even when we have never made repoussé. The broches in the end are beautiful.