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Encyclopedia > Repoussé
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Repoussé bracelet by Thomas Feeser, ©2005.

Repoussé or repoussage is a metalworking technique in which a malleable metal is ornamented or shaped by hammering from the reverse side. There are few techniques that offer such diversity of expression while still being relatively economical. Metalworking is the craft and practice of working with metals to create parts or structures. ... Malleability is a physical property of matter, signifying its capability of deformation, especially by hammering or rolling. ... Hot metal work from a blacksmith In chemistry, a metal (Greek: Metallon) is an element that readily forms ions (cations) and has metallic bonds, and it is sometimes said that it is similar to a cation in a cloud of electrons. ... A hammer has a primary meaning of a really hot chick. ...


The techniques of repoussé and chasing utilise the plasticity quality of metal, forming shapes by degrees. There is no loss of metal in the process, as it is stretched locally and the surface remains continuous. The process is relatively slow, but a maximum of form is achieved, with one continuous surface of sheet metal of essentially the same thickness. Direct contact of the tools used are usually visible in the result, a condition not always apparent in other techniques, where all evidence of the working method is eliminated. Plasticity has four meanings: Plasticity (physics): In physics and engineering, plasticity is the propensity of a material to undergo permanent deformation under load. ...

Contents

Etymology

The word repoussé is French and means "pushed up", ultimately from Latin pulsare "to push". Repoussage is actually the correct noun to refer to the technique, with repoussé being an adjective referring to a piece to which the technique has been applied (e.g. "repoussé work", "repoussé piece"); however in English it has become common to use repoussé as a noun, and this usage is reflected in this article. Latin is the language that was originally spoken in the region around Rome called Latium. ... A noun, or noun substantive, is a word or phrase that refers to a person, place, thing, event, substance or quality. ...


Chasing is the opposite technique to repoussé, and the two are used in conjunction to create a finished piece. Whilst repoussé is used to work on the reverse of the metal to form a raised design on the front, chasing is used to refine the design on the front of the work by sinking the metal. The term chasing is derived from the noun "chase", which refers to a groove, furrow, channel or indentation. The adjectival form is "chased work".


Famous works

The most famous contemporary sculpture created with this technique is undoubtedly the Statue of Liberty in Upper New York Bay. The statue was formed by copper repoussé in sections using wooden structures to shape each piece during the hammering process. Ancient Greeks depiction of ideal form of the body is expressed through sculpture such as this one. ... The Statue of Liberty Liberty Enlightening the World, commonly known as the Statue of Liberty, is a statue, given to the U.S. by France in the late 19th century, that stands at the mouth of the Hudson River in New York Harbor as a welcome to all: returning Americans... Upper New York Bay, sometimes called Upper New York Harbor or the Upper Bay, is the northern area of New York Harbor inside the Narrows. ... General Name, Symbol, Number copper, Cu, 29 Chemical series transition metals Group, Period, Block 11 , 4, d Density, Hardness 8920 kg/m3, 3. ...


A second example of monumental copper repoussé sculpture is Portlandia by Raymond Kaskey, which was installed in 1985 in downtown Portland, Oregon. General Name, Symbol, Number copper, Cu, 29 Chemical series transition metals Group, Period, Block 11 , 4, d Density, Hardness 8920 kg/m3, 3. ... Portlandia is a sculpture by Raymond Kaskey located above the entrance of the Portland Building in downtown Portland, Oregon. ... Raymond Kaskey (born 1943) is an American sculptor. ... 1985 is a common year starting on Tuesday of the Gregorian calendar. ... Portland skyline. ...


History

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Gilt copper repoussé from Tibet, 16th Century.

The techniques of repoussé date from Antiquity and have been used widely with gold and silver for fine detailed work and with copper, tin, and bronze for larger sculptures. Among the most famous classical pieces using this techniques are the bronze Greek armour plates from the 3rd century BC. General Name, Symbol, Number Gold, Au, 79 Chemical series transition metals Group, Period, Block 11 (IB), 6, d Density, Hardness 19300 kg/m3, 2. ... General Name, Symbol, Number silver, Ag, 47 Chemical series Transition metals Group, Period, Block 11, 5, d Density, Hardness 10490 kg/m3, 2. ... General Name, Symbol, Number copper, Cu, 29 Chemical series transition metals Group, Period, Block 11 , 4, d Density, Hardness 8920 kg/m3, 3. ... General Name, Symbol, Number tin, Sn, 50 Chemical series poor metals Group, Period, Block 14 (IVA), 5, p Density, Hardness 7310 kg/m3, 1. ... Bronze figurine, found at Öland Bronze is the traditional name for a broad range of alloys of copper. ... Bronze figurine, found at Öland Bronze is the traditional name for a broad range of alloys of copper. ... (4th century BC - 3rd century BC - 2nd century BC - other centuries) (2nd millennium BC - 1st millennium BC - 1st millennium AD) Events The first two Punic Wars between Carthage and Rome over dominance in western Mediterranean Rome conquers Spain Great Wall of China begun Indian traders regularly visited Arabia Scythians occupy...


During the 3rd millennium BC, in the Middle East, a variety of semi-mass production methods were introduced to avoid repetitive free-hand work. With the simplest technique, sheet gold could be pressed into designs carved in intaglio in stone, bone, metal or even materials such as jet. The gold could be worked into the designs with wood tools or, more commonly, by hammering a wax or lead "force" over it. (4th millennium BC – 3rd millennium BC – 2nd millennium BC – other millennia) Events Syria: Foundation of the city of Mari (29th century BC ) Iraq: Creation of the Kingdom of Elam Germination of the Bristlecone pine tree Methuselah about 2700 BC, the oldest known tree still living now Dynasty of Lagash in...


The alternative to pressing gold sheet into a die is to work it over a design in cameo relief. Here the detail would be greater on the back of the final design, so some final chasing from the front was often carried out to sharpen the detail.


The use of patterned punches dates back to the first half of the 2nd millennium BC, if not far earlier. The simplest patterned punches were produced by loops or scrolls of wire. By Hellenistic times, combined punches and dies were in use. (3rd millennium BC – 2nd millennium BC – 1st millennium BC – other millennia) Events Second dynasty of Babylon First Bantu migrations from west Africa The Cushites drive the original inhabitants from Ethiopia, and establish trade relations with Egypt. ... The term Hellenistic (established by the German historian Johann Gustav Droysen) in the history of the ancient world is used to refer to the shift from a culture dominated by ethnic Greeks, however scattered geographically, to a culture dominated by Greek-speakers of whatever ethnicity, and from the political dominance...


In 1400 BC, the Egyptian Amarna period, resin and mud for repoussé backing was in use. In 400 BC, the Greeks were using Beeswax for filler in repoussé. Amarna (commonly known as el-Amarna) is the name given to an extensive archaeological site that represents the remains of the capital city built by the Pharaoh Akhenaten of the late Eighteenth Dynasty (c. ...


Repoussé and chasing are commonly used in India to create objects such as water vessels. These vessels are generally made using sheets of copper or silver. General Name, Symbol, Number copper, Cu, 29 Chemical series transition metals Group, Period, Block 11 , 4, d Density, Hardness 8920 kg/m3, 3. ... General Name, Symbol, Number silver, Ag, 47 Chemical series Transition metals Group, Period, Block 11, 5, d Density, Hardness 10490 kg/m3, 2. ...


Methods

It can take some time to create jewellery using Repoussé and chasing, although with practice, complex and delicate pieces can be made, which would be virtually impossible to complete using any other method. It takes a lot of time due to the repetition of a number of time-consuming stages: the preparation of a sheet by annealing; cleaning to remove the pitch between annealing and work; setting up; acnd careful work with punches. One method of repoussé and chasing is to place a thin sheet of metal on a bowl of heated Pitch. The pitch is slightly soft, and hardens when cooled, or becomes liquified when heated. The purpose of using pitch is to provide a solid base to work on, whilst allowing the metal to be pushed out and shaped without obstruction. The pitch is best worked on in a pitch bowl. This is a cast iron bowl which sits on a bag stuffed with sand or a simillar substance. This allows for greater stability, rotation and angling. The pitch is heated using a hairdryer, or an industrial blowdryer. If the pitch is too hard, the metal will be thinned. If it is too soft, you have very little control over the form. Good pitch is hard enough to hold its shape, but soft enough to yeild. The word anneal has several meanings: In metallurgy and materials science annealing is a heat treatment wherein the microstructure of a material is altered, causing changes in its properties such as strength and hardness. ... Pitch is the name for any of a number of highly viscous liquids which appears solid. ... Cast iron usually refers to grey cast iron, but can mean any of a group of iron_based alloys containing more than 2% carbon (alloys with less carbon are carbon steel by definition). ... Patterns in the sand Sand is an example of a class of materials called granular matter. ... This article is about rotation as a movement of a physical body. ... Categories: Stub | Hairdressing ...


Steel tools are used to work the metal. A "liner" is a steel rod with a very thin, slightly rounded end, that is used to create the initial lines on the metal. The liner is hit on the end with a chasing hammer, pushing a thin line of metal into the pitch. The side facing up will consequently be the front of the piece. Once all the lines have been chased, the metal is then turned over on the pitch, and repoussé is then used to push the metal so that it extrudes on the front of the finished piece. The piece of metal is turned and worked many times, with numerous tools, before the final design is achieved. Steel framework Steel is a metal alloy whose major component is iron, with carbon being the primary alloying material. ... Modern hammer A tool is, among other things, a device that provides a mechanical or mental advantage in accomplishing a task. ...


Once a fairly large shape is inverted, it can be filled in with warm pitch to help maintain it's shape. The pitch should be allowed to set in the forms before the piece is placed back on the pitch. Every time the metal is removed from the pitch bowl, it needs to be cleaned and re-annealed. Turpentine is used to remove the pitch, and a blow torch can also be used to burn it off. Something that is inverted is something that is flipped over, around or otherwise appearing in an opposite manner than is normal, customary, or common. ... Turpentine is a fluid obtained by distillation from resin obtained from trees, mainly various species of pine (Pinus). ...


Tools

There are hundreds of tools which can be used. They are generally made by the jeweller/crafts person. They are typically made from bars of tool steel, which is forged and tempered at the tip. A saw can be used to cut designs into the tip for making patterns, or the tool can be hammered onto a patterned surface, which will indent the tip. The end of the tool which is to be hammered should be bevelled to allow for expanison of the metal from repeted hammering. Some of the main styles of tool include: Liners, planishers, matting, and doming. Liners have thin tips, which are slightly rounded. If they are too thin they will cut the metal. They are used in the initial marking out of the design, and in the finishing stages to refine any thin outlines. Planishers have smooth, flat tips which are used for pushing out large, flat areas of metal. Matting tools have patterns cut into them, and provide detail to areas of the design. Matting tools can also be made by filing a thin line around a steel bar, hardening it, then snapping it. This will result in a fine grain pattern. Doming tools push out rounded areas of metal, and can either be round or oval, quite pointed or almost flat. An oxyacetylene torch is required for heating the steel sufficiently for forging. The more tools available, the easier it is to create a detailed, acurate piece. Tool steel refers to a variety of carbon and alloy steels that are particularly well-suited to be made into tools. ... This article is about smithing. ... Tempering is a heat treatment technique for metals and alloys, most often the toughening of martensitic steel. ... The article is about the tool. ... Oxyacetylene is a gas welding process using acetylene and oxygen. ...


Recipes 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: A tradition is a story or a custom that is memorized and passed down from generation to generation, originally without the need for a writing system. ... Composition deals with the bits and pieces that make up things. ... Emollients soften skin (and moisturisers add moisture). ...

  • 16 parts pitch
  • 20 parts plaster of Paris
  • 4 parts resin
  • 1 part tallow

Method: Heat pitch on a stove in a saucepan until molten. Add plaster of Paris, a small amount at a time. Add the resin and stir until dissovled. Add the tallow and mix thoroughly.


 
 

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