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Preparing pitch bowl

Dear Alis,

First question, are you using Swedish pitch. This is already made to
the correct consistency for chasing or Repousse. You can partly fill
the bowl with broken brick so that you use less pitch. Personally, I
wouldn’t use quikcrete. Is the bowl cast iron or steel. Do you have
a metal ring to stand it on? Swedish pitch is ready to use, break it
up, put it in the bowl, and heat it until you get a smooth top to the
pitch, let it cool. You are now ready to use it. Just heat the top
layer of pitch with a gas flame, you can then set you work in that
ready for work. Just let it cool and you can start chasing!
Incidentally, if you don’t want to pay for chasing punches, buy some
quarter inch square wire from you local supplier, cut it into about
4" lengths, shape and polish the ends. Case harden the ends. This is
a much cheaper option. I have made all my chasing punches this way.

Hope all this helps

I have never heard of or used quickcrete or any concrete for pitch
preparations…I use plaster and pitch in a cast iron bowl for
pitch,and skillets with handles sawn off…

If using burgundy pitch you heat it in the bowl after breaking in
chunks and,after about 20 minutes it levels off,and is still too hot
to touch…cool to warm, then bend the edges of a piece of scrap
brass,copper, etc, and see if the easily are held firmly in the
pitch without chipping when you strike it with hammer and
pucnh(es).If it chips reheat and soften with some beeswax .I like my
pitch right near he top of the bowl,say within a quarter of an
inch…up to the top can be hazardous when reheating…if not paying
complete attention…

If using asphaltum or pine pitch and plaster and beeswax to make
your own…do it outside on a gas burner in an old skillet
w/handle…when the pitch and wax are just flowing mix in the plaster(
mixed off heat in a big empty yoghurt container or similar),stir with
a paint stirrer,without adding bubbles, that is folding the admixture
together…then pour into a warmed pitch pot and let set up… sealing
wax bars make another alternative to the high cost of pitch…to each
1 lb bar of green or red sealing wax,add 2oz. of beeswax and mix
thoroughly to the warm and flowing,but not bubbling, pitch.

A friend I know leaves her pitch bowl ona single electric typr
buffet burner,to warm the bowl,soften pitch and then add things if
necessary ( she uses burgundy or orange pitch with beeswax,and
prefers hers softer as she works in mostly 22kt golds no thicker than
16 gauge)- she too hasn’t a clue about quickcrete unless its to set
the bowl/pitchpot in…plaster is a common additive cement???

Hi Alis,I don’t use any plaster or quikrete in my bowl. If you hit
with any force it eventually breaks out and is exceptionally
annoying. I just detest plaster in pitchbowls, but I know it works
fine for small delicate pieces.To fill the entire 8 inch bowl, you
need about 6 pounds of pitch, plus an extra pound for mounding on
the top later with the heat gun. Here is a blog entry that shows
pitch melting into those exact 8 inch bowls

No, don’t underfill the pitch bowl. Fill it to the top, or within
1/4 inch of the top. You can add chunks of pitch to the top with a
heat gun, yes- as many as you want as long as you go slowly and work
with small chunks, oh maybe 1 to 2 inch pieces.Feel free to email me
with any questions.Don’t set your oven at 350, way too hot. Set it
at 250 and let it melt slowly, very very slowly.I’m teaching 2
chasing & repousse workshops this summer, which you can find here

You can see some of my work here

My workshops get great reviews from my students. You learn how to
maketools as well, so you can add to your set.



Well I have some idiosycratic views of pitch bowl.

I believe a pitch bowl should be as heavy as possible, and should be
filled with lead (diving weight material will do) if you can do it.
There are serious ventilation issues and care is needed. Do only if
fumes are exhausted properly.

The shape I prefer is that of a sphere with one quarter or so taken
off the top. A bowling ball is used for it in this article at

I have seen Portugese pitch bowls in exactly this shape made from
solid granite, one might be able to use decorative balls for garden
pillars as pitch bowls.

Plaster is not a good idea as it can break up with time and work its
way up eventually getting in the way in the pitch.

I’ve used concrete (read the instructions on the bag) and while it
works I don’t find it heavy enough. With either lead or concrete I
fill the pitch bowl to within about 1 cm of the top. On never really
places metal below the rim of a pitch bowl as then you can’t get your
tools at it with a full range of movement. Instead the pitch is piled
up above the rim, and the work, if possible, mounted on a mound,
which lets you get at it from a very large range of angles.

It is dangerous to heat pitch to molten temperatures, in an oven or
elsewhere. One of the special benefits of the red pitch is that it
becomes soft and pliable at a very low, touchable temperature. Heat
also travels through it fast so you don’t have to end up with molten
material on top of still solid pitch. This means you can use a hair
dryer (or a heat gun) to soften it. I usually hit the cold pitch with
a hammer to get chunks (wear eye protection!), then place the chunks
on the top surface of the pitch bowl, warm with the heat gun, and
when it is soft press it into, and onto the top of the bowl to the
desired shape. A bowl of water to dip fingers in while doing this is
good, and traditionally fingers were not used, instead a lightly
oiled steel stake was used to push it around. Never let the pitch get
hot enough to get runny or stick to you. If it smokes or bubbles you
are WAY too hot. Safety notes:

Pitch notes at Ganoksin:

Also there are notes on pitch in Erhard Brepohl’s article at the
Ganoksin Project.

Here is the address for ordering Northwest Pitchworks pitch. I like
their medium one…

Mountain Gems in BC makes their own pitch as well.

Fischer has a great black pitch and my favorite for chasing a red

Some online notes on pitch (blacksmithing)

Allcraft in New York has these as well. Ask for Tevel.
Allcraft Tool and Supply
45 West 46th St New York City, NY 10036
(800) 645-7124 fax: (800) 645-7125


The quickcrete isn’t in the blend of pitch. It is used to add
ballast and take up space in the bottom of the pitch bowl the
instruction usually state place finger down in the plaster or cement
to from holes to give the pitch something to grab on to.


Why would you fill your pitch bowl with anything but pitch? Adding
other materials can contaminate your pitch.


Thank you so much for all the responses. I think I have a better
understanding of it now.

are you using Swedish pitch. This is already made to the correct
consistency for chasing or Repousse..."Do you have a metal ring to
stand it on? 

No, I have red German pitch and a cast iron bowl that is 7-3/4" by
3-1/2" deep. The pitch came in an oblong tin - sort of looks like a
red pound cake. It is 2 kilos in weight. I am hoping this pitch is
ready to use - meaning that all I have to do is chunk it up and put
into the bowl. Am I correct? There is no metal ring, the bowl came
with a leather ring. From the responses to my post, I am thinking
that I should just buy more of this red pitch and fill the bowl up
with only pitch. I don’t want to worry about how hard I am
hammering. I am just beginning and not delicate with the hammering
and it sounds like the quikcrete idea might be risky. I have made one
bracelet and pin so far, but plan to do a lot more. If I am
converting it correctly and need 6 pounds to fill this bowl, I will
need to buy 2 more tins of the pitch. Does this sound about right?
Gets pretty expensive, no wonder people are filling up the bowl with
odds and ends!

If using burgundy pitch you heat it in the bowl after breaking in
chunks and,after about 20 minutes it levels off,and is still too
hot to touch..

Is this the same as the red German pitch I have?

Thank you again!

When I teach repousse, I give students the less expensive option of
using the horrid, sticky, American black pitch (The stuff’s like
road tar!) to fill their bowls and then add a mound of the red pitch
on top. This allows an all pitch, non cracking consistency without
the $$$, however, the red pitch is much safer to heat and melt into
the bowl than the black pitch.

You need a mound of the red pitch on top of the bowl on which to
work, or you will continually have to stop and mound one up when
working from the front of the piece. Whatever you fill your bowl
with, let it cool completely, and then pile up a hunk slightly
smaller than a fist on top, and soften it just enough to make it
stick together and to the bowl. This will save tons of working time
later on just be sure never to overheat and mix the 2 kinds of
pitches together!

Those tubs of red pitch look like fudge, don’t they?

Victoria Lansford


I use the red german pitch (in the aluminum foil pan) you might need
2 to fill up your bowl, just chunk it up and put in the oven to let
it soften and fill the bowl. The leather ring is fine and works well.

Have fun,
Jennifer friedman