Sterling silver, Abalone shell
Repoussé (or repoussage) is a metalworking technique in which a malleable metal is shaped by hammering from the reverse side to create a design in low relief.
Chasing is the opposite of repoussé, and the two are used in conjunction to create a finished piece.
While repoussé is used on the reverse of the metal to form a raised design on the front, chasing is used to refine the design on the front of the work by sinking the metal. The adjectival form is “chased work”.
The techniques of repoussé and chasing use the pliability of metal, forming shapes by gradations. There is no loss of metal in the process as it is stretched, not removed, and the surface remains continuous.
The process is relatively slow but a maximum of form is achieved, with one continuous surface of sheet metal of essentially the same thickness. Direct contact of the tools used is usually visible in the result, a condition not always apparent in other techniques, where all evidence of the working method is eliminated upon polishing.