Terms and Techniques
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Annealing: Heating metal to return its molecular composition to a softer state after it has become hardened by manipulation.
Anticlastic Raising: Raising metal so that its two dominant axes curve in opposition often using specialty sinusoidal stakes.
Bouge: Hammering formed metal to smooth its shape usually by hitting it with a rawhide or plastic hammer against a metal stake or mandrel.
Burnishing: The vigorous rubbing of the surface of metal with a highly polished tool of harder metal or stone. Rather than removing metal by abrasion, burnishing smoothes the metal to create a high shine.
Cast: Pouring molten metal into a mold, which has a hollow cavity of the desired shape.
Chain Making: Creating interlocking links of similar or consistent shapes, usually from wire, to create a long flexible structure.
Chasing: The technique of hitting metal from the front face with specialized tools to create or refine relief or linear designs. Chasing can be done in conjunction with repousse to define areas of relief or can be done alone to create continuous linear patterns. The appearance of linear chasing can be similar to engraving but, rather than removing metal, it only displaces the metal. It differs from stamping in that stamps are struck once or twice in the same spot to create a single impression without moving the tool, whereas in chasing, a tool is moved along a path while being repeated struck to create a continuous line (see also Eastern Repousse, Repousse, Engraving, and Stamping.)
Dapping: Hammering metal into a depression to create a dome or other rounded shape. Usually done with a dapping block with a range of dome sizes and corresponding punches.
Depletion Gilding: The process of repeatedly heating and pickling silver or gold to remove copper from the surface thereby leaving a layer of finer metal visible.
Eastern Repousse: Eastern repousse is a form of repousse and chasing that involves delineating an area to be raised and working it from both sides to achieve high relief. It is usually worked within a matrix of sheet, which may be cut away later (see also Chasing, Repousse).
Electroplating: Using electrical current to deposit one metal onto another through a chemical bath.
Electroforming: Using electrical current through a chemical bath to deposit a layer of metal onto a conductive form in order to synthesize an object.
Engraving: Carving grooves in the surface of metal to create lines and patterns.
Etching: Using chemicals to remove selective metal on the surface usually to create patterns or other images on metals by means of a resist.
Finishing: The process of cleaning up or removing scratches, excess solder, or unwanted hammer or tools marks by way of abrasion with successively finer grits of such materials as sand paper, rubber or silicon wheels, or buffs and polishing compounds.
Firescale: The purplish stain that forms just under the surface of copper bearing alloys that have been heated/soldered. The torture of all metalsmiths.
Filigree: A design term to describe intricate lines and complex swirls or spirals. In metal such designs can be created by wire work, engraving, or casting (see also Russian filigree).
Forging: Hammering metal, usually over a metal or plastic stake, anvil, or mandrel to manipulate its shape.
Fusing: Joining metal without adding solder by heating the the metal almost to the melting point so that the molecules on the surface or edges flow together.
Goldsmithing: Traditionally, the techniques used for working metal on a jewelry scale (not necessarily in gold).
Granulation: The application of tiny spheres (or chips or wire) to a base sheet by bringing the surface of the granules and sheet to the melting point. Granules are first placed on the sheet and held in place with various adhesives such as hide glue or saliva before being fired with a torch on a charcoal block or in a kiln.
Kum Boo: A Korean technique of applying a thin layer of 24k gold on the surface of silver (or other metals) through a process of heating and burnishing.
Marriage of Metals: Sometimes called inlay. The merging of two or more metals or alloys, often sheets that are soldered edge to edge to create a continuous surface of contrasting colors.
Metal Inlay: The ornamental application of hammering wire into carved channels on a sheet of metal.
Niello: A surface ornamentation technique of a low temperature melting alloy of lead, copper, silver, and sulfur that is flowed into engraved channels or fabricated recesses on silver sheet. The color of the alloy can range from blue to purple to black or gunmetal.
Patination: The intentional or naturally occurring oxidation of metal that changes the metal’s color on the surface.
Pickling: The chemical removal of surface oxidation on metal.
Piercing: The cutting out of negative spaces or shapes in sheet metal to create a design.
Repousse: The technique of free hand hammering metal from the front and back alternately with punches to create sculptural relief (also see Chasing and Eastern Repousse).
Reticulation: The intentional or accidental creation of a grainy or wrinkled surface texture on sheet metal. It is produced by heating an alloy (often sterling or an alloy of 80% fine silver + 20% copper) to the point when the differing melting temperatures of the metals causes the surface to appear to draw up or contract.
Roller Printing: The embossing of sheet metal produced by rolling it through a rolling mill while sandwiched with something textured such as lace, thick paper, or etched or pierced metal plates.
Russian Filigree: The technique of fabricated, open back, wire filigree, comprised of smooth frame wires and finer twisted and milled filler wires.
Scoring: Removing a line in a sheet of metal, usually by filing or grinding, in order to achieve a sharp bend or corner.
Silversmithing: Traditionally, the techniques associated with forging and forming non ferrous metals for hollowware, flatware, or art objects not necessarily of silver.
Soldering: The joining by heat of two or more metal parts, achieved by flowing a lower melting temperature alloy in between them.
Stamping: The striking of metal with a stamp to produce textured or patterned marks or indications of metal content and maker.