Repoussé and chasing
Repoussé or repoussage is an ancient metalworking technique in which a metal is shaped by hammering or punching from the reverse side to create a low relief design. The word repoussé is derived from the French pousser, ‘to push forward.’
Chasing is the opposite of repoussé, meaning the metal is hammered or stamped from the front, creating an indent. ‘Chasing’ can also be called ’embossing’. Both chasing and repoussé are usually done onto sheet metal.
Both techniques can also simply be called stamped when hand or machine stamps have been used to indent or push out the metal.
Both techniques are found in jewelry throughout every era. Whilst they have both traditionally been done by hand, machines to produce raised or sunken designs on sheet metal were created in the mid 1900s using roller dies or stamps. Also, cast pieces can have the same effect as hand-worked originals. It is worthwhile being able to recognize repoussé and chasing work in antique jewelry in order to better evaluate and discuss it. It is also worthwhile recognizing when the work is hand-done work, cast or machine made; this really just comes with having a practiced eye and handling enough pieces. Also, keep in mind that metal working techniques are combined together.
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