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Alluring repoussé ginkgo leaf design

Make a pin, pendant, or both, using this jewelry design

Much of the excitement in practicing the techniques of repoussé and chasing, which date to the Bronze Age, is in seeing how elastic metal can be when it is pushed and tooled into organic and geometric patterns in three-dimensional form. The techniques are so intertwined it's hard to use one and not the other. Both use similar tools — steel pushers and liners — but in repoussé, the metal is worked from the back, and the resulting shapes and forms are created by manually stretching the metal. Chasing decorates the relief of the repoussé, but is worked from the front.

Today’s silversmiths and jewelers are largely abandoning these techniques in favor of casting and die forming. But by creating this pin-or-pendant ginkgo leaf, which combines both methods, you can gain a sense of the restraint and masterful use of tools that ancient artisans brought to their work. 

Read the project instructions in the gallery below. For the complete project PDF, which includes additional information on working with pitch and chasing tools, click here

Materials

  • Plain paper
  • Carbon paper
  • 22-gauge copper or sterling-silver metal sheet, 4x4 inches (10.2x10.2cm)
  • 5 pounds fast-setting cement and water
  • Pitch
  • Mineral oil, petroleum jelly, or masking tape
  • Dish soap and water
  • Modeling clay (optional)
  • 180- to 600-grit sandpaper
  • Bezel wire for gemstone
  • Hard, medium, and easy solder
  • Pickle solution
  • Gemstone of your choice
  • White correction fluid
  • Liver of sulfur or a commercial oxidizer
  • Steel wool

Tools

  • Pencil or pen
  • 6-inch (15.2cm) iron or steel pitch bowl
  • Wood, metal, or thick leather support ring for pitch bowl
  • Safety glasses
  • Flexible work gloves
  • 8-ounce utility hammer
  • Torch and fuel or heat gun
  • Container with water
  • Wood craft stick
  • Chasing tools: liners, pushers, and punches
  • 4- to 6-ounce chasing hammer
  • Screwdriver
  • Toothbrush
  • Steel block
  • Rawhide hammer
  • Fine-tip marker
  • Jeweler’s saw frame and 0/3 blade
  • Jeweler’s files
  • Bench pin
  • Drill and 1⁄16-inch (1.6mm) bit

Instructions:

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