Creating Low-Relief Design in Copper with Chasing and Repoussé

Learn how to make a leaf from copper using chasing techniques on steel and rubber surfaces.

Last edited: 10/30/2019
copperleaf
step1 corwin
  1. step2.corwin Apply the design to the copper. Tape a sheet of annealed copper to a forming block covered with a thin sheet of cardboard (e.g.: file folder) to reduce unwanted marks on the back side.
  2. step3.corwin Go over the design with a liner to create a groove. Use less force than when lining in pitch; the steel doesn't give from below so the metal will compress and become thin where the liner strikes.
  3. step4.corwin Apply stamped images or textures at the same time. As you work, the surrounding metal will begin to warp, creating space under the metal. Some of these spaces will become the low-relief areas of the design and some will be flattened in the next part of the process.
  4. step5.corwin Flip the sheet so the back side is facing up. Slide a piece of neoprene rubber under the metal and use a running punch to give volume to the center vein of the leaf.
  5. step6.corwin This is what the leaf looks like from the front at this stage.
  6. step7.corwin Reverse the leaf and finish the repoussé with a rounded punch. You will be surprised by how much height you can achieve by working against the neoprene.
  7. step8.corwin Flatten the surrounding metal with a wooden dowel or plastic rod.
  8. Define the outside edge by chasing on steel. Cut out the leaf.

Interested in exploring chasing and repoussé? Check out Nancy Megan Corwin's book, Chasing and Repoussé: Methods Ancient and Modern, for a fascinating tour of the tools, techniques, and history behind this vibrant artform.