“The Thrill of the Chase is the excitement that you feel when you are trying to achieve something difficult.’’
— Cambridge Dictionary
The art of silversmithing is ancient, and although some techniques have been introduced over the centuries, with developments in technology creating space for results previously considered impossible, there are a handful of methods for shaping metal that have been with us since the very beginning.
Repoussé (or repoussage) is one of them. Derived from the Latin pulsare, which means to push - Repoussé refers to the technique of hammering malleable metal from the reverse side in order to create a design in low relief. This technique has a sibling, called chasing or embossing, which sees the piece hammered on the front side, sinking the metal rather than raising it. These techniques demand only simple tools and malleable metals, but allow craftsmen to create an incredible diversity of expression.
Evidence of this ancient method of metalworking can be found on Tutankhamun’s mask, formed using a single sheet of gold hammered into exquisite shapes; the prehistoric Gundestrup cauldron, which boasts thirteen silver panels, each elevated with repoussé relief; and more recently, the copper sections that were combined to construct the Statue of Liberty. The techniques can be found in the fine details of our craftsmen’s work on the family of big cats available in our Tusk collection - because our craftsmen love the thrill of the chase.
The process begins with annealing the silver, heating it to a temperature that will ensure it the material becomes malleable. This heating must be repeated several times as the piece is worked, to stop the metal from hardening and becoming brittle beneath the hammer. Once the material is softened and fixed on a suitable support, a light chasing creates a narrow outline of the desired design. Our craftsmen use ‘punches’ (special chisels with smooth tips) to push the metal into shape. The result is a hand-crafted work of art that will remain beautiful for years. Just ask the Egyptian Museum.
With a limited edition sterling silver animal from our Tusk collection, you can be proud to support the work of a dynamic and pioneering organisation with over twenty five years of initiating and funding conservation, community development and environmental education programmes across Africa.