My repousse’ jewelry starts with a totally flat sheet of metal like this one. I create all my designs on paper and rework them until they are exactly what I want to use. The design is then transferred to a blank sheet of flat silver, copper, or other metal using tracing paper or some other process.
Once the design is on the metal I use chasing tools to indent the lines into the sheet. This entire process uses a variety of small chasing tools, other tools I’ve created, and various chasing hammers. The photo of the triangle earrings shows a simple chased design.
Chasing is the process of indenting a design or pattern into the metal sheet using various small tools and hammers. In chasing, you are working on the front (top or right side) of the sheet. There are tools for creating straight or curved lines and other tools for making patterns, forms and shapes. You can even use metal stamping tools to create something specific. The earrings on the left are examples of simple chased patterns.
The completed heart earrings on the right are finished examples of repousse’. Loosely translated, repousse’ means to raise a design in the metal. Again, you are using chasing tools to do this, but the approach is very different between the two techniques. For repousse, once you transfer and create the design on the metal sheet, you are working primarily from the back side of the sheet although you alternate working on the back and front to smooth the design and accent various details.
It’s a multi-step process, starting with chasing the design into the metal (front side of the sheet), followed by a series of steps on the back to create the height you want in your design. Once the height is created to your satisfaction you begin to work from the front side again to refine the shapes and smooth them.
I have two photos of work in process working on 2 pairs of “paisley” earrings that have slightly different designs.
This picture is early in the process, but after I’ve developed the shapes and height quite a bit. You can see the lines on the top of each paisley, but there are few details and the shape has not been developed yet.
This shot is closer to completion. Once I’m happy with the design I’ll clean up the metal and cut the pieces out, file and sand the edges, and polish them. Final step is the ear wire for the earrings.