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Shaping copper

Michael, I saw the same PBS video. Those artisans were definitely
talented. They started out by “raising” the face shape from a flat
sheet of copper. This is traditionally done on a metal stake, but
could probably be done on or against any of a number of hard
materials. It’s all about bending and moving the metal. Hammer,
hammer, hammer, and anneal. The video showed that the details were
worked into the mask from both sides - so i guess that qualifies as
chasing/repousse. My mentor, Vernon MacNiel taught me the raising
technique. While for me it was a labor of love, it drove my family
nuts when i would spend hours pounding on a work in progress


I want to thank so many of you that have provided both answers and
direction in this matter. Just so you will know that I haven’t been
idle sitting back waiting for answers, I too have been busy on the
homefront. I immediately jumped into the archives here in search of
tool recommendations and procedures. Charles Lewton-Brain’s articles
on homemade tools and raiding industry provided several ideas.
(Thank you Charles, you have been a fountain of ) I got
busy in my bottomless junk-metal pile, looked into the Rio Grande
and Indian Jeweler’s Supply catalogs for pictures of forming tools,
rolled up my sleeves, fired up my grinders and sanders, and
proceeded to proceed in making some small stakes and tools. I know
for sure that I have many more to make but that comes in the “use,
learn, and modify” category. I also annealed some small pieces of
copper and set about shaping a small frontal view of the human face
from just below the eyebrows to the top of the lips. It’s rude and
crude and definitely shows a lack of finesse but I learned a great
deal in the making. Since I will be using these types of things for
both sculpture and jewelry work, I now have a whole new realm to
play in. Several websites were mailed to me and they have been
looked into deeply. I also got a great deal of visual at
Andrew and Sandra Noble-Goss’s site. I’m not stealing their ideas
but I saw a lot of application inspiration there. Finally, I am
driving my wife and son crazy with my constant tapping, annealing
and so forth so I know that I must be doing something right. I am
definitely in the market for suggestions for cheap and easy pitch
substitutes as I can see that they will definitely will prove
necessary in the long run. Thanks again everyone!


Raising metal is about more than just bending the metal. The type of
hammer, the type of stroke and the angle of the stake control
whether the metal is thickened, thinned, or bent. The thickness of
the metal is also important and greatly affects whether the the
smith wants to sink or raise. I recommend “Silversmithing” by
Rinegold and Seitz for descriptions and directions.

Marilyn Smith