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Repoussé floral brooch

Tap the potential of repoussé to give your jewelry dimension without added weight

The floral brooch is a time-honored motif that’s continually being reinterpreted by jewelry makers. In this version, I’ve used traditional metalsmithing techniques to make the stem and leaves of my brooch. The rich red flower is a polymer clay cabochon that I’ve bezel-set and embedded with fine-silver granules. The overall impression is a pin that’s equal parts elegance and whimsy.

I’ll show you how to give the leaves in this brooch dimension by using basic hammering techniques of repoussé and chasing. You can bezel-set a polymer cabochon as I did, or choose a cab of stone or some other material — it’s all open to your interpretation.

SUPPLIES

  • Polymer clay: 1 oz. (28 g)
  • Fine-silver wire: 22-gauge (0.6 mm), round, 6 in. (15.2 cm)
  • Sterling silver wire:
    • 20-gauge (0.8 mm), square or round, 2 in. (51 mm)
    • 16-gauge (1.3 mm), square, 2 in. (51 mm)
    • 8-gauge (3.3 mm), half-round, dead-soft, 31⁄2 in. (89 mm)
  • Fine-silver bezel wire: 28-gauge (0.32 mm), 3 mm high, 2 in. (51 mm)
  • Sterling silver bezel wire: 24-gauge (0.5 mm), 2.5 mm high, 9 in. (22.9 cm)
  • Sterling silver sheet: 24-gauge (0.5 mm), 1 x 6 in. (25.5 x 152 mm)
  • Sterling silver or nickel pin-back findings: hinge, catch, and 2-in. (51 mm) pin stem
  • Plastic container
  • Awl
  • Toaster oven (Dedicated to nonfood use)
  • Leather sandbag or wood block with a depression
  • Dapping punches: 2–5 mm diameters
  • Chasing tool: blunt liner
  • Ring mandrel
  • Soft cotton cloth
  • Fine-tip permanent marker
  • Yellow ochre 
  • Scrap wood block

INSTRUCTIONS

Repousse Floral Brooch 1
Step 1

Part 1

Polymer clay cabochon

Cut wire for the silver granules. Use wire cutters to snip about 25 1–2 mm pieces from 22-gauge (0.6 mm) fine-silver wire [STEP 1].

NOTE: Varying the lengths of the wire pieces will result in granules of different sizes, which will make the granule pattern on the cabochon more random.

Repousse Floral Brooch 2b
Step 2
Repousse Floral Brooch 3b
Step 3
Make the granules. Place the wire pieces on a soldering pad or charcoal block. Use your torch to heat each wire piece until it forms a granule [STEP 2]. Quench, pickle and rinse the granules. Then, dry the granules on a paper towel. (I made extra granules for future projects [STEP 3].) 

Make the cabochon. Condition 1 oz. (28 g) of polymer clay. Form a ball that’s approximately 3⁄8 in. (9.5 mm) in diameter. Slightly flatten the bottom of the ball, forming a cabochon that’s about 1⁄4 in. (6.5 mm) high.
Repousse Floral Brooch 4b
Step 4
Repousse Floral Brooch 5b
Step 5

Add the granules to the cabochon. Spread the granules on a paper towel. With your forefinger against the flat side of the cabochon, press the rounded side of the cab into the granules, using moderate pressure [STEPS 4 and 5].

Carefully run your fingertip over the impressed granules to make sure they’re securely embedded in the clay. Push any loose granules into the clay with your fingertip or a smoothing tool. Reshape the cab as necessary.

NOTE: Avoid placing granules along the outer edges of the cab; they could interfere with the bezel later. 

Cure the cabochon. Bake the cabochon in a preheated oven according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Allow the cab to cool completely.

For complete project instructions, click here to download & print this PDF

FIND MORE: brooches , metal , polymer clay

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