A Facebook friend made the comment that she liked how I was “branching out” with my work. She had seen my status updates last week as I posted progression photos of this bracelet. I know she is right, my work is branching out and I love the feeling.
Last Wednesday, I started a 5 day workshop with Il Maestro Fabrizio Acquafresca. It was amazing. I don’t think my work will ever be the same. He teaches a metalsmithing technique called Chasing and Repousse. It is challenging, but the rewards are so worth the effort.
I thought you might enjoy seeing how this bracelet evolved.
The first day of the workshop we did a very simple dragon fly to get acquainted with the tools and get a feel for the process. I can’t tell you how many times Fabrizio had to lift my left elbow off the bench while I was working. He wants everyone to understand and develop the feel for the right way of doing things. Why? Because it is essential for the correct execution of hammer and tool, but also for your long term physical well being. It’s all part of the learning curve and boy howdy am I learning.
On the second day, we had the freedom to choose a pattern and decide what we wanted to make. I knew I wanted a bracelet. True to form, I wanted something different and went asymmetrical.
I am fond of Gingko leaves and thought that would be a good place to start. After a few sketches, I set my sites on this one.
I thought it would give me enough variety to practice the different depth levels and it didn’t let me down.
The copper in the upper left corner was an example Fabrizio created for me to follow. I had difficulty with moving the tool in a flow along the metal. Given that this was my second day attempting the technique and Fabrizio had been doing this since he was 13, well, I know there is a ton of practice in front of me. I persisted and was rewarded.
The material the metal rests in is Fabrizio’s formula of virgin tar and a calcium mix. Initially I thought it would be sticky, but it is not. It’s quite conducive to the process and others who had done this technique using other forms of ‘pitch’ found this material to be the best and easiest they had ever worked with.
Over the next couple of days, I went through the process and saw plenty of progress. Plus I was learning so much. This next photo shows that the metal is flipped and I am at the start of adding more detail to what would eventually become the outside of the bracelet.
Detailing completed, the piece was ready for the wire to be soldered to the back for stability and comfort.
I wanted an irregular shape for the bracelet. This worked out quite well because the narrowest section would be on top of my wrist and the wider areas hold the bracelet on the underside of my forearm. Comfortable and lightweight, plus that design created stability so the bracelet doesn’t move around on my arm. It was now ready to be formed and shaped to fit my wrist.
For the finished piece that you see at the top of this post, I used a liver of sulphur solution to give it more of an aged look. I actually prefer that look over a high polish, but either works well. I do think the liver of sulphur helps to bring out the detail in the piece.
Left to right – Shannon, Me, Andrea, Fabrizio, Elizabeth, Sandy, Ann, Amy, Nancy and Gloria.
We had a great group; a perfect blend of creatives. I considered this workshop to be one of those lifetime opportunities. If you ever have a chance to take this workshop from Fabrizio, DO IT! The investment in yourself to learn this kind of skill from a true master is invaluable.
Fabrizio is patient and one of the best teachers I have had. He has an exuberance and zest for life! There is never a dull moment. Enjoyable, entertaining and packed full of knowledge. Ok, it’s just plain fun. A win, win!
I know I am branching out and so excited about the possibilities.
Until next time, aspire to be more as an artist and a person.