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Jewelry Making Techniques


Chasing and Repousse

 

Repoussé is a metalworking technique in which metal is shaped by hammering from the reverse side to create a design in low relief.

Chasing is the opposite technique to repoussé, and the two are used in conjunction to create a finished piece.

Tools used in chasing and repoussé include hammers and punches of different shapes as well as a pitch pot. While repoussé is used to work on the reverse of the metal to form a raised design on the front, chasing is used to refine the design on the front of the work by sinking the metal.

The techniques of repoussé and chasing utilize the plasticity of metal. There is no loss of metal in the process, as it is stretched locally and the surface remains continuous. The process is relatively slow, but a maximum of form is achieved.

Virtually every culture with a history of metalsmithing going back 5,000 years has demonstrated accomplished work in techniques of chasing and repoussé. It has been used for the creation of everything from delicate jewelry to works to those as massive as the Statue of Liberty.

 


 

Filigree is a delicate kind of Jewelry metalwork made with twisted threads usually of gold and silver. The Metals are twisted and woven to create highly ornamental lacy designs. Points of contact are soldered together with like metals to secure designs. It is totally hand crafted and requires hours of concentration. 

The fine intricate workmanship requires keen vision and a steady hand. It is one of the oldest and most beautiful of art forms developed by man. The ancient soldering was accomplished by using flame and a blowpipe. Borax was used with the solder to complete the process.

 The word derives from the Spanish filigrana, from "filar", to spin, and grano, the grain or principal fibre of the material. By extension, it may be used in a number of contexts to describe anything considered delicate, intricate and elaborate. The art form is traced back about 5000 years and has been practiced worldwide in places such as Greece, Russia, India, Ireland, Italy, and Spain just to name a few. The Moors introduced the art form to Spain. From there it migrated to New Spain (Latin America) where indigenous craftsmen duplicated techniques. This Spanish influence reflected in Mayan and Aztec designs which can be seen in contemporary Latin American Filigree.

The Spanish brought the art form to New Mexico where Spanish as well and native Americans learned the craft.  Early filigree artisans in New Mexico were known as plateros or silversmiths, even though almost all of them worked primarily with gold. Many of the most common items produced by plateros were pendants, earrings, necklaces, hair pins, chains, and brooches. Plateros traveled the state selling and taking orders from those who could afford their jewelry. Very few artists today are carrying on the tradition due to the time involved.


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