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Thread: Chasing and Repousse pitch

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2019
    Posts
    8

    Question Chasing and Repousse pitch

    Hi

    I'm studying jewellery design and manufacture(level 3) part time and I've become fascinated with chasing and repousse. This isn't something that's fully covered on the course I'm doing so I've read books and searched for information online about how to get going.

    My question is about pitch, I haven't used it myself due to cost and my home set up not being all that great so I'm a bit afraid of the flammable qualities, mess and toxic fumes of working on it at home. I have been experimenting with thermo plastic and plasticine. I have seen some short video clips of Victoria Lansford getting very high raising on plasticine, so I know it's possible, but I find that the metal warps, rather than raising if that makes sense when I try using it. The thermo plastic works pretty well but I don't think/ know if it's flexible enough to get the kind of deep repousse I'm looking for.

    So I'm back again thinking about pitch. The thing is, the chasing pitch available from cooksons also seems pretty hard. I was able to look at some in a pitch bowl and when I poked it, it felt very hard which is why I thought that the thermo plastic should work, because it seems about the same level of hardness. But since I'm totally new to it and I don't have pitch experience to compare it to, I don't know if the thermo plastic is working as well as it should for what I want. I can certainly move the metal on this surface, but I'd really like to get some deep / high shapes going.

    Has anyone worked with the chasing pitch from cooksons to do repousse with? Are you supposed to work on it when it's still a bit warm so it's more pliable? I suppose in the meantime I can also see if trying to keep the thermo plastic warm will help in this way....

    From what I've read on the internet, it seems like German red pitch is what many people use for repousse because it's a bit softer, but this seems pretty expensive and difficult to get hold of in the UK. I've also seen people posting recipes on here, but I haven't gotten around to sourcing the ingredients and I'm a bit wary of doing that, but I will probably end up doing so if it's my best option.

    I have looked on this forum for info about chasing and repousse, so I have read that people can use wood and lead to do this with but the wood isn't really feasible for me (but I can see how if you know what you're doing, making specific indents in the wood seems like a good idea) and I'm scared of Lead poisoning... It is possible that I've missed a thread or two going over these kinds of questions exactly, so I'm sorry if that's the case.

    Oh and I've just thought of a side question - because I am trying to be pretty frugal at the moment, I'm actually using a small metal pet bowl I bought from Home Bargains (89p!)filled with thermo plastic to do my chasing and repousse in. It actually works pretty well and it has a rubbery coating to the bottom which sits nicely on a leather sandbag and doesn't move around much when I'm hammering. I am assuming if I do move to pitch I will definitely have to pony up for a proper pitch bowl and ring, right? Although, now that I think about it I'm sure I've seen videos on youtube of people using old biscuit tins and what not to contain their pitch, so maybe the dog bowl is fine? Just double checking!

    Can anyone give me any insight on these questions? I really would appreciate it!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Central London
    Posts
    7,986

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    I can answer some of the questions:

    I have done this with pitch in a stout wooden box, but as you soften the surface of the pitch to embed your piece using a torch, you must take care not to ignite the wood. Of course you could do that with a heat gun.

    Yes, it can be smoky and smelly in a home environment and to remove the pitch residues from your metal you must either burn it off (very smoky) or use a solvent (very smelly).

    Small scale work can be done on lead melted into a tobacco tin as advocated by our member, the master goldsmith James Miller.

    Some very basic shaping can be done on the grain end of a wooden log, or a thick piece of neoprene. Dennis.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Scotland
    Posts
    2,820

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    I haven’t done repousse properly since college so used pitch and a bowl. I have tried the end grain of wood and have also seen some simple but effective designs done on thick cardboard but only in copper. I wonder if the wood needs to be end grain if you are doing a complete design, I’ve only used it for specific shapes? Could it be done on a sheet of soft ish wood that works in the same way as the pitch and you keep on changing the piece of wood as opposed to melting the pitch for each process? This is just a random thought not a suggestion and I suppose I’d need to try it!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Posts
    148

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    Quote Originally Posted by Esk View Post
    Hi

    I'm studying jewellery design and manufacture(level 3) part time and I've become fascinated with chasing and repousse. This isn't something that's fully covered on the course I'm doing so I've read books and searched for information online about how to get going.

    My question is about pitch, I haven't used it myself due to cost and my home set up not being all that great so I'm a bit afraid of the flammable qualities, mess and toxic fumes of working on it at home. I have been experimenting with thermo plastic and plasticine. I have seen some short video clips of Victoria Lansford getting very high raising on plasticine, so I know it's possible, but I find that the metal warps, rather than raising if that makes sense when I try using it. The thermo plastic works pretty well but I don't think/ know if it's flexible enough to get the kind of deep repousse I'm looking for.

    So I'm back again thinking about pitch. The thing is, the chasing pitch available from cooksons also seems pretty hard. I was able to look at some in a pitch bowl and when I poked it, it felt very hard which is why I thought that the thermo plastic should work, because it seems about the same level of hardness. But since I'm totally new to it and I don't have pitch experience to compare it to, I don't know if the thermo plastic is working as well as it should for what I want. I can certainly move the metal on this surface, but I'd really like to get some deep / high shapes going.

    Has anyone worked with the chasing pitch from cooksons to do repousse with? Are you supposed to work on it when it's still a bit warm so it's more pliable? I suppose in the meantime I can also see if trying to keep the thermo plastic warm will help in this way....

    From what I've read on the internet, it seems like German red pitch is what many people use for repousse because it's a bit softer, but this seems pretty expensive and difficult to get hold of in the UK. I've also seen people posting recipes on here, but I haven't gotten around to sourcing the ingredients and I'm a bit wary of doing that, but I will probably end up doing so if it's my best option.

    I have looked on this forum for info about chasing and repousse, so I have read that people can use wood and lead to do this with but the wood isn't really feasible for me (but I can see how if you know what you're doing, making specific indents in the wood seems like a good idea) and I'm scared of Lead poisoning... It is possible that I've missed a thread or two going over these kinds of questions exactly, so I'm sorry if that's the case.

    Oh and I've just thought of a side question - because I am trying to be pretty frugal at the moment, I'm actually using a small metal pet bowl I bought from Home Bargains (89p!)filled with thermo plastic to do my chasing and repousse in. It actually works pretty well and it has a rubbery coating to the bottom which sits nicely on a leather sandbag and doesn't move around much when I'm hammering. I am assuming if I do move to pitch I will definitely have to pony up for a proper pitch bowl and ring, right? Although, now that I think about it I'm sure I've seen videos on youtube of people using old biscuit tins and what not to contain their pitch, so maybe the dog bowl is fine? Just double checking!

    Can anyone give me any insight on these questions? I really would appreciate it!
    What you do is go to a charity shop and buy yourself a cast iron frying pan or skillet- mine are about 3/4 " - 19mm ? That's plenty to be getting on with. I was going to suggest the Liverpool Grease Co for
    bitumen based pitch- smelly and toxic if breathed in too deeply so don't- but I see Mr Wylie has closed shop. You are however directed to Traditional Boat Supplies. They may be able to help. I bought about 10 K for not a lot from Mr Wylie and mixed it in varying quantities with plaster of Paris, which is also cheap.I've also done a couple of courses where we used the red pine pitch and , I think, a green one. Probably less worse for your health but you can do it without.
    Going back to the vessels , I've just bought 2 star shaped shallow skillets from said shops . They are shallow but plenty deep enough to get some volume. 1 for both.
    I also have larger MDF backed containers which I just made into a frame with 1/2" cheapo wood and filled with the pitch. They are perfectly adequate but make A HELL of a noise.
    So, don't mix the pitch ( in another charity shop saucepan) indoors if you have a camping gaz cooker. I have - I live alone_and it's not the best way.
    Have you seen the book Chasing and Repousse by Nancy Corwin?
    Cookson's chaser's pitch is fine for working from the front but for repousse you need s.thing with more give.
    I am no expert .
    Nick

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