The drawing given to me with the rune alphabet and the caption as wanted. My interpretations at the bottom with the copper blank ready for lining
Without annealing, turn the lined piece over and use a rounded punch. Follow the outline, as made by the liner in previous stage, working towards the middle.
Turned over, on the plaster scene from previous stage, you can see the ‘runes’ taking shape. The surrounding material needs to be straightened out now.
You can see this was an allen key, most of my tools start as allen keys, great cheep tool steel. The face, as most all of my chasing and repousse tools are, is mirror polished to prevent scarring of the material whilst working. The background is gently pushed down, again use the largest planishing punch as you can to minimise the overlapping tool marks that can lead to an unwanted planished effect. You are just ‘placing’ the material back, not forming it, just be gentle as you will need to repeat this again later.
First annealing stage, pickled ready for more working.
Because the material was work hardened in the previous stage this would likely not have been successful before this annealing. This takes the last stage to its conclusion, making the ‘runes’ return to the same level as the surrounding material. This allows you to separate the elements better later and allows you to see how high you have come, more importantly how much further you need to go.
The underside after outlining the individual runes from the front, notice the clean edged as they have been encouraged back to the steel plate.
A more focussed push tool is used for the second puffing out round. Same again, start from the outline and work towards the middle of each separate element.
Compair this with the previous annealing, I need to start to think about making the runes look like separate elements rather than the balloon like appearance they have now.
I will repeat this later. You will no way get this amount of height this early on working in any type of silver. You need to think about that as you may end up becoming despondent not being able when you try. Ask how I know 🙂
Ready for undercutting now to make the runes look separate from the surrounding sheet.
This is the sort of angle to use to give some material for undercutting when the piece is the right way up.
Two sizes of planishing punch, smallest one for the tighter gaps between the elements.
Annealed and pickled, round three.
Lined onto the metal plate again. Please be careful, too heavy hammering on this repeated process thins the material and a real risk of breaking through exists if you are a little exuberant at this stage. Guess how I found out : \
Straighter sides ready for undercutting, helping to further shape the illusion of separate pieces.
This type of tool with a rounded blunt profile is used at this kind of angle.
The shiny parts show where the tool has contacted. A little imagination is needed to envisage how you wish the elements to look from the front. This will dictate the profile, as well as the angle you choose to employ
Much more defined and starting to look more like separate elements. Its over to the pitch now as the final shaping requires more support than the plaster scene can provide.
A Victoria Lansford tip here, cooking oil applied to the side you are adhering to the pitch will aid its removal when completed.
Sorry to say, imagination will have to guide you better than my words here. Study the two tool profiles, the blunt one is driven into the side to undercut each element. The other tool I made up from previous attempts to ‘lift’ elements. I made this type of tool for ‘wear your heart on your sleeve’ cuff when I was having trouble making the veins stand proud of the surrounding material. I find it effective, good luck if you wish to try your own. Better still, do you have any profiles you may wish to share?
Another view of the two tools. The ‘lift’ tool shows the ‘belly’ I shape into it. Picture the effect this has when struck. The belly forces the tool to follow the rocker profile, the scoop profile then shapes and tucks in the element as it is described around each one.
Just like the plaster scene stage, this is for making crisper definition that the more supportive pitch allows.
Playing with the runes theme, elements and the like, I thought water flowing around would give a greater visual impact. Back in the pitch, face down, this blunt rounded tool is used to create raised ripple like effects as seen from the front.
Off the pitch, from the front on a steel plate.
Chasing the flowing patterns, this is one of the curved liners I used, more in following pictures.
All the ‘flowing’ chased detail applied, shown are all the liners I used to attain this pattern.
A blunt tool was used to mark out the rune letters that were requested. This is an example of spoiling the effect trying to rush. If you do this, remember to fill each element with pitch BEFORE you attach the whole piece. As you see some of the runes are sunken. This is due to be omitting this stage and having to contend with air pockets that do not support, leading to a collapse, shown here.
Cleaned up and fresh from the barrel polishing machine.
For illustrating options I chose to present this model half patinated to allow the chap to express a choice. I use a cotton bud as I find the solution wrecks brushes. The fine steel wool is used to take the black off the higher elements.
One half patinated, the rest shiny, decisions decisions.
Close up of shiny, clearly showing the ‘reward’ for lack of patience, the rune squashed, what a twit eh.
Patinated and high spots removed with the wire wool.
In 0.6mm copper, not very durable, nonetheless a good example of what could be if the chap decides he wishes it made in silver. This is a great example of my approach to ‘sketching’. I could not draw this, no problem making it though, it is a communication tool that allows me to have a dialogue with a person as they finger the surface and are able to better communicate what they want through seeing a representative model first.
I have added this image of a packet of Plasticine. If you go to an art shop and ask for the generic equivalent , you get much more for your money.
As a thought for the people who wish to dip their toe in the repousse and chasing water, without going to the expense of purchasing pitch and the associated equipment needed to use it, I have had a thought. If you push the plasticise firmly into the depression you wish to add detail to, perhaps experiment by putting it in the fridge of freezer, this will stiffen up the plasticine, obviously you will have to work out how much support this will give, making allowances and decisions when to return the piece to the cold as it warms.
The pitch is very much more supportive, better to use for limited amounts of puffing that traditional low relief chasing and repousse require. The higher relief style I like, I find the plasticine saves time by yielding more, giving me more bang for the annealing buck as it were. Also the pitch will give a pretty accurate indentation for the tool used. Imagine poking your finger up inside a stretched piece of fabric. Your finger will make an impression of a tent as the material around is also pushed up. Depending on the pitch mix/hardness this effect can be, to a greater or lesser degree, avoided, making for crisper definitions of elements. The plasticine will drag material from further around the initial tool impression making ‘hills’ if you like.
If anyone does experiment with cold plasticine, I would be very interested to hear how you get on.
I thought this example of a commission I have received will help to better understand the chasing and repousse methods I use. Better still I sincerely hope it will encourage you to have a go, please do ask me for any further clarification should you need it. I would also be thrilled to see anyone else’s work if they would care to share it.
Lawerence is a fantastic chap who is into shamanism, ooooookkkayyyy I hear you say. I know I know, perhaps a little eccentric, better that than the abundance of dullness I say. A thoroughly decent and nice chap to boot as well and someone who I am very glad to say I now call friend.
Lawrence saw Clairs bangle, you know the pebble one, look back or go to my Facebook page if you need reminding. He came up with the idea of having his name in runes, the drawing in the first photograph will give you the gist.
I will let the pictures do the talking, well they do have some explanations attached, as I say, please do ask if I have not been clear.
As for the silver final piece, well I will have to wait as I have you to show this to him for his opinion. Rest assured if he does decide I will post a picture when I have completed it. As I state in the pictures this model was made in very thin, ex copper water tank, 0.6mm. Sterling silver will be the material of choice for the ‘real’ one. It will take, if I’m lucky twice as many annealings as it took to realise the model working as I do in 0.9mm stirling silver sheet. Please bear this in mind if you jump right in with your own projects, it takes very much longer and is much harder to move than the copper shown here.
As many of you already know I’m no artist and find drawing skills frustratingly illusive at this time, though I am still working on it. To my mind this approach is not much more time consuming than a fine rendering in different aspects that a silversmith or jeweller may need to satisfy a client. As a bonus my ‘handicap’ means I am continually learning in my chosen medium by practicing in it most of the time through necessity. Thin gauge models work for me, go on try it, you may like it.
I hope you enjoyed the photographic journey to the end and it encourages you to have a go for yourself.
All my very best wishes.
Thanks very much for this Stu!! What kind of plaster is the blue plaster in your photos and what advantage does it have over pitch?
Thank you for asking. I thought it would be an idea to update the blog to give a picture of the plasticine and a bit of an explanation of the differences. I hope this helps you to get a better picture of how the process works, please do not hesitate to ask for clarification if you require any further explanations. Very best of luck, perhaps you may try what I have suggested as an experiment? I hope so 🙂 Go back to the post and scroll down, I have added the picture and text as the, now, last photograph. Very best wishes.
Thank you for this very informative post! And great tips: cooking oil, plasticine. I’ve never thought of using plasticine, but it sounds like an excellent idea (with thinner material, I guess) and quite a time-saver.
I can’t take the credit for this tip. I found out through Victoria Lansford and her approach to this higher relief ‘Eastern repousse’. You may wish to check out her site and excellent teaching aids http://www.victorialansford.com. Thank you very much for taking the time to comment, it is really great to get feedback, getting ideas, also knowing if I’m getting the right message across. Please do keep in touch. Very best wishes.
Thank you very much for the link, Stu!
No worries my friend. I hope you get as much inspiration from her work as I did. Fair to say this is where my ‘I can do this’ moment happened. Thank you for your reply.
Hi stu… I only saw and liked the first photo, I had not found the other photos and all the information you had posted. Brilliant x
Good oh Ann, thank you very much for looking. I hope to show the copper version of the carved leaf we are both making here soon. The pumpkin was magic by the way, your thoughtfulness and kindmess is greatly appreciated. 🙂
Great idea re: the cooking oil – I will have to try that. For years, I’ve been using baby oil to coat the rear sides of my pieces before chasing them (only because this was recommended by my teachers.) I’m still on the fence about buying that green pine pitch, Stu!! I know it’s likely a better option than black pitch; I just need to find the time to get used to the differences. GREAT post – I enjoyed this lots.
Thank you very much, again I cannot take credit for the cooking oil tip, all Victoria Lansford. The green pitch is a big investment, also it is very brittle, when heated it is very soft. I feel I’m coming to a point where I wish to try something with more substance, less give if you will. I have heard fantastic things about German red pitch, this is easy to get where you are but, until recently has been elusive here in the U/K. I will be in employment in the new year, top of the list on my first pay packet is some red pitch, I will do another blog post to give my impressions. Thank you for your continued kindness it is greatly appreciated, a very happy Christmas to you and all your family.
Oh Stu – I would really look forward to that new post re: your impressions of red pitch. Literally everyone here uses the pine pitch b/c of the pleasant smell, non-toxic etc.. However, like you, I’m more concerned w/ how soft it is. I have asked for a gift certificate to a supplier for a Christmas gift from family – so I’d love to hear your feedback before I invest in it. I’ve used black pitch since 1994!! Have a great Christmas too and I’ll check back here w/ you after your next blog update.