Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Shaping Copper

Greetings all. I’m a bit confused about something and I knew you
fine people would probably have an answer of some kind for me. I
recently saw a show on Public Television where a group of artisans
were tasked with refurbishing some ancient Bhuddist temples in the
Himalayas. One part of the show (about 20-30 seconds worth) showed
an individual crafting a slightly -larger-than-lifesized face of the
Bhudda from a sheet of copper. They could have dedicated the whole
show to that one aspect from my point of view but…Oh well. This
wasn’t work done with a pitch bowl that I could see although it may
have been part of the process not shown. There was definitely some
hammerwork being done but again ,I only saw a very small segment,
and I didn’t get a look at the tools and/or stakes (if any) being
used. A local jeweler, bless his heart, insisted that it had to have
been done using a pitch bowl and was all chasing and repousse’. I’m
confused here.

It looked like what I would call raising or “forming” but I’m not
sure. What the process is called isn’t nearly as important to me as
the actual work itself. I’ve done a little chasing and repousse’ but
I want to learn the fine art of shaping voluminous forms from sheet
type metal. If you know what it’s called I’d like to know but I
would really like to know some good reference materials that would
give detailed on the processes involved. Anyone out
there know of a richly detailed book or books on the subject? I
really want to know a lot more about this type of metalsmithing.
Everything I’ve tried so far has been less than good and I think it
may have a lot to do with my ignorance of tools and techniques.
Small simple forms haven’t been hard but more complex work (like
faces) leaves me in the dirt. Any recommendations or enlightenment
would be very greatly appreciated. I’ve got some copper and brass
screaming for an artistic encounter with a hammer.



Find a copy of Moving Metal, The art of Chasing and Repouss’e by
Adolph Steines. He goes into larger forming work and how it can be
done using carpet and such as a backing to work on. I have formed
pieces on a large leather sand bag, stumps, in sand boxes, whatever
will support the work.Yes, technique and tools are definitely part of
the game.

Bill Churlik

Hi Mike

I don’t know of a book that deals with the process, but I saw a show
about the restoration of the Statue of Liberty. They showed a
segment on the forming of the copper replacement pieces and it showed
them using large wooden forms, some rounded, some with depressions,
not unlike those used for raising pieces but much larger. They
didn’t show it from flat sheet to finished piece, but enough to get
an idea of the process. You could research the restoration and
hopefully it might lead you to a book or source that explains it in

Hope that helps
Brigid Ryder

For shaping large scale copper forms take a look at the Chris Ray
website. Also work by Leonard Urso and Saul

Hi Mike

Today I was doing a google search on repousse and found the
following article on making a large copper weather vane with a bull
as the decoration. the technique mentioned is using wet newspaper as
a surface to form the copper.

Brigid Ryder

Thank you for the reminder of the Chris Ray site. I was on the list
when he was and remember him as generous with his advice. He should
have been a national treasure with students gathered around his
knees. I appreciate his site being kept on line. If you are new to
this list, check out his Techniques and Process pages.