- Artist and Blacksmith Repousse' Tools and Techniques


From vicopper -

See, What is Pitch?
  1. 6 parts chaser's pitch, 8 parts plaster of Paris or brick dust, 1 part linseed oil or tallow. Source: Metalworking Techniques for Craftsmen by Oppi Untracht.

  2. 4 parts roofing tar (the kind roofers melt in tar kettles), 3 parts pumice powder, 1 part turpentine, 1 part linseed oil. Melt tar in pan, stir in turps, add pumice. Let a small amount cool and adjust amount of linseed oil to get desired consistency. Source: My own recipe.

  3. Equal parts of beeswax and plaster of Paris. This is good for very thin, fully annealed non-ferrous metal worked shallowly. Again, my recipe.

    When mixing any of the recipes for pitch, remember that some or all of the materials may be flammable and take appropriate precautions with regard to open flame, etc. It's a good idea to keep in mind that hot pitch sticks to you and keeps on burning much longer than is bearable, too.

    For steel or relatively thick (greater than 16 ga.) non-ferrous metal, you want the pitch to be stiffer than you would for softer or thinner metals. The stiffer the pitch is, the sharper the detail you can get, because it doesn't distribute the force of the punch as much as softer pitch does. For preliminary bumping of the gross forms, I use a softer pitch, and then switch to a stiffer consistency for detail work or chasing from the front. Sometimes, depending on the nature of the project, the initial bumping can be done over a sand or shotbag, or over a depression in a wood block or stump. If it is important that the perimeter of the piece be very exact, it's sometimes easiest to leave it large and cut it to the final contour after all the repousse'/chasing is done.

    Remember that whatever surface is present on the end of the punch or hammer is going to be impressed into your work. If you want a smooth surface, polish your tools to a shine. Conversely, you can texture areas by using tools with pitted, grooved or checkered faces. Sharp tools run the risk of cutting the metal, so it's a good idea to radius the corners of tools. Oppi Untracht's book mentioned above has some good and useful information on the techniques involved, as do many other jewelry making books.

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