Hi Orchid Readers
It is now a week since I returned home from my Valentin Yotkov
chasing and repousse class at Metalwerx. I have waited a week to
allow my enthusiasm to settle a bit so I can write a balanced
account. It hasn't helped! :-)
The experience was terrific. The classroom studio at Metalwerx is
well thought out with plenty of space and a large fume hood for
torch work. Amy and Leslie of Metalwerx took great care of the
students and Karen Christians was there to welcome us on our first
Valentin Yotkov and his apprentice Sharon Fosko led 12 students
through the steps of producing a medallion pattern. The pattern was
designed by Valentin to teach several skills. We used different12
chasing tools in total. A brief talk explained how to make our own
tools at home if we could not afford a set of Yotkov tools. He
assured us that our own tools would be superior to anything
commercially available. Three days of hammering, melting pitch,
cooling pitch, and cleaning pitch off copper surfaces ensued with a
one hour break for lunch. Most of us were able to finish at least one
portion of the medallion through all the steps and several people
were able to finish. When we tired, there were copper samples of the
medallion at three different stages for us to take a close look at as
well as examples of Valentin's fantastic work in silver to admire.
Valentin and Sharon are both excellent teachers who demonstrate,
explain and encourage. We were encouraged to keep a folded towel
under our pitch pot to help cushion the blows. We were also advised
that 5 hours a day is the most that one should spend chasing to avoid
damage to our arms.
Since my return home, I have bought some O1 round tool steel to make
some tools, found a source of W1 square tool steel for more chasing
tools, and started my second effort at the medallion pattern.
Practise, Practise, Practise! Before attempting another pattern
Valentin advises making 4 copies of this medallion. Metalwerx
supplied us with four pieces of copper. One down, three to go.
When I tire of chasing and repousse I can play with the new Benchmate
that Karen also donated to the raffle. What a terrific piece of
machinery! It is so solid and frees up both hands. I ordered the
bench pin from Rio Grande as part of my Rio Grande prize and it
holds the pin beautifully steady. Much better than the system I had
All in all, it was a marvelous experience that opens up new windows
and suggests new designs. All this fun and education (only a part of
the whole prize) were made possible by a $39 ticket to the Winter
Raffle. I have bought my ticket to the summer raffle - how about you?
It would be terrible for me to win a second prize. ;-) Reduce my
chances by buying your own ticket today!