Repoussé Medal

A medal formed in brass sheet using repoussé and chasing

Repoussé Medal

I’ve started reading a book by Nancy Megan Corwin on a new metalworking technique, new for me that is, the technique is a few thousand years old. That technique is “Repoussé” which is forming shapes in sheet metal by pushing from the reverse. It is often complemented by chasing which is pushing from the front.

I was looking for an excuse for a quick project and remembered there was a re-union of the Student Television of Imperial College on 16th Jan. I’d made a 3D printed medal for the winner of the “Something” competition the previous year so I thought I’d make another for this year.

Initial Working I started with no experience, limited knowledge and just a few tools. I used a paper pattern and transferred the shape using a nail punch. This was fleshed out using a crudely formed “oval” shaped tool formed by grinding some mild steel bar.

Anealing As I progressed, I read more of the book and followed the advice such as annealing the piece once you’ve worked with it for a period. I also realised that the tools needed to be very polished on the ends or they will mark the metal. I swapped to using hardwood dowels for finishing off, these did distort after a bit of use but you could simply saw the ends off. I’ll likely make some mild steel tools and once I’m happy with those swap to toolsteel and harden it.

SolderedOnce I was happy with the basic numbering, I punched on the letters as I realised that I had yet to advance to the point of fine detail such as 3mm high letters. I trimmed the outline and used the anvil point to get the edge nice and round and filed it so that it was flat when pressed on the anvil. I then silver soldered it onto a second sheet of brass.

FinishedMedal The finshed medal was cut out of the backing sheet, filed and the polished with a wire brush in the drill.

Winner The finished metal was fixed with some Union Jack ribbon and presented at the dinner to the person with the best “Something”. A lot of people thought it was a casting so I was given a chance to explain the method of creation.

I’ve a lot to learn and would need some better tools as well as techniques. It will be interesting to see how working with pitch changes the technique too. It’s not an area I am likely to develop quickly but watch these pages over the next few years to see how I get on.