Enter Repoussé & Chasing

Last November, and again this January, I was privileged to take an introductory copper repoussé and chasing class at the Chicago Avenue Fire Arts Center with instructor Brad Buxton. Both sessions were a wonderful opportunity to explore the versatility and sheer glory of hammered copper. Most of the students in the class opted for the 26 gauge copper as it required far less pressure to mold with the tools provided, but I made pieces in both 26 and 24 gauges as the 24 is more likely to bear up under use as a cuff bracelet. Any two dimensional design you can imagine could be transformed using this method-see what I’ve come up with so far in my most recent gallery entry.

My first piece completed in this class is based on a sketch from a dream I had four years ago, in which I visited the library on a luxurious submarine resembling the Nautilus and noted that several of the volumes featured intricate copper plaques  riveted to their leather-bound covers.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

As the class continued, I began to experiment with simpler and simpler designs. Then and now, I am drawn to the degree to which just a few basic lines, given dimension, accentuate the surprising range of subtle textures and colors that the copper can display-particularly after annealing, and the application of liver of sulfur or other patina treatments. Stay tuned for more copper work and more copper work on books in the near future!

As CAFAC states: Repoussé and chasing are ancient techniques that use the natural qualities of non-ferrous metals to create beautiful art and utilitarian objects. Repoussé is the process of creating a raised design from the backside of a piece of malleable metal, while chasing is the opposite process of refining the design by pushing the metal from the front. Relatively simple, usually handmade tools are used to push and form cold metal into forms that are not possible using any other technique.