As I continue to build the Ammolite Brooch I have decided to create a gold shape using an ancient technique called repoussé. It will be opposite of the bezel set ammolite. It is a method of metalsmithing that I enjoyed in school. Now I rarely have the need or the time to use this old world procedure. It is becoming a lost art and very few artisans use it.
A French word meaning “push up”. And that is exactly what we do to the metal. In this technique the gold is shaped by hammering from the reverse side. The gold is annealed or softened by heating to a dull red. It is placed in a tar like substance called “pitch”. Using a small hammer and striking various shaped steel punches the malleable metal moves to create a low relief design. The gold sheet is then removed, again annealed and reversed into the pitch. Working it from the other side is called “chasing” to refine the design. That is the front side. These two techniques are continuously used in conjunction. It is a slow process as the metal is stretched and shaped.