German red chasing pitch

Hello to all who recommended the German red chasing pitch as sold by
Karl Fischer as well as Allcraft. I have just received my order of
6kg. I’m really concerned because it seems verrry hard and brittle
whereas the impression I had from Orchid dialogues was that it was
malleable and could be used for deep embossing which is what I
intended to do with it. Is there something I should/could add to it?
Or is it only malleable when kept warm? Personal experiences, please!
I also ordered their black pitch but it hasn’t arrived yet so it may
be more suitable for my intent but what shall I do with all this hard
stuff? It’s almost like sealing wax.

Regards, Kay


From Valentin Yotkov, premier chasing and repousse master:

The pitch bowl An 8" diameter cast iron bowl is our best choice.
It comes in the shape of a half sphere along with a round rubber
pad. Because of it's shape and weight, the bowl can be positioned
in any convenient angle for best comfort while working. Rubber
pads are often too large in diameter which causes the bowl to
shift easily from its position. This can be eliminated by folding
and placing an old hand towel under the pad. Using the stainless
steel bowls for chasing should be avoided as those are very light
in weight. For chasing large pieces, a large cast iron frying pan
can be used. You may also build a wood frame with the desired
dimensions and attach it to a piece of plywood. Melt the pitch in
a separate container and pour into the frame. A minimum of 3"
layer of pitch is necessary. 

To prepare the pitch bowl put the pitch in a plastic bag, break
into small chunks and put it in the cast iron bowl. Set your
kitchen oven at 250F. Put the bowl with the pitch on the middle
rack over a sheet of aluminum foil. In approximately 30 - 40 min.
the pitch will melt. Depending on the actual temperature in your
oven, the melting could take a bit longer. Wait until the surface
of the pitch becomes smooth and level. Tap carefully with a piece
of wood on the outside of the bowl to force the air out of the
pitch. Add more from chunks of pitch, if necessary, to fill the
bowl up to about 1/8" from the top. Do not overfill. Avoid any
spills on the outside of the bowl. Do not attempt to handle the
hot bowl and pitch and do not leave the pitch bowl in the oven
unattended. Once the pitch is melted and ready leave the oven
door open and let the pitch air-cool for several hours. 


Karen Christians
50 Guinan St.
Waltham, MA 02451
Ph. 781/891-3854 Fax 3857
Jewelry/Metalarts School & Cooperative Studio


Please don’t use the black pitch it really is discusting. The red
German pitch is very maleable when warm and needs to be put into a
pitch pot without the use of the black pitch (the black pitch will
mix with it and ruin it) per Valentin Yotkov. To use the red pitch
you must place it all into the pot and either warm it up in the oven
or with a natural gas torch slowly so that it is nice and smooth. You
can wet your fingers and move it around and when cool it is hard
enough to chase on but not rigid.

Jennifer Friedman
Ventura, CA

Please don't use the black pitch it really is disgusting....To use
the red pitch you must place it all into the pot and either warm
it up in the oven or with a natural gas torch slowly so that it is
nice and smooth.

There are many kinds of black pitch. I agree the petroleum based
ones from suppliers are awful.

Allcraft in New York has a very useful black pine resin pitch that
complements the red pitch, which I agree is my favorite. I use a heat
gun or hair dryer or gentle heat from a flame to get the red pitch
warm, finger pliable warm only.

related articles at ganoksin:

chasing safety

Pitch notes:

also from the Brepohl book:


While it’s not German Red, does anybody know the composition of the
stuff Grobet ships? The cans are labelled:

257 C
(amount in can)


Dear Kay,

The Red German pitch is perfect for raising low to medium height
relief mainly for jewelry. It is not recommended for raising images
higher than half an inch. For high relief you will need the soft
grade Northwest pitch. You can still use the Red German pitch for
raising relatively high relief, just anneal the metal more often and
place it back into the depression left on the pitch by the previous
raising. You may also add small amounts of paraffine (material used
for making candles) into your Red German pitch to make it softer.

Another way of raising high relief is to work over thick rubber pad.
In both cases frequent annealing is essential to preventing the metal
from breaking.

Valentin Yotkov

Valentin Yotkov Studio
Artisan Member of Society of American Silversmiths
68 Jay Street, Studio 501A
Brooklyn, New York, 11201

1 Like

Many thanks to those who responded to my query about the hardness of
this stuff and its scope for chasing. For years I’ve been using my
own pitch recipe based on the black tar that you all hate and it’s
worked well for me, just requiring frequent warming for deeper
punching. Of course, it is noxious and makes the house stink so I
thought it was time to come into the 21st Century. I haven’t had a
chance to get down to experimenting with the German red. I also
bought some of Fischer’s black pitch, which they say is tree-resin

Thank you Valentin for the paraffin tip.
All the best, Kay