Metalwork is any decorative or useful object fashioned out of metal, including silver, bronze, gold, brass, copper, stainless steel and lead. Man first discovered how to extract gold from the earth in around 6000BC with other metals following over the centuries. Over time, methods for shaping and decorating the different metals have evolved into skills still used today.
Decorative work is carried out by hammering the metal, and shaping can also be formed by this method.
When metal is heated to extreme temperatures it becomes liquid, and this liquid is poured into molds. When the liquid cools, it hardens again and retains the shape when the mold is removed.
Using a hammer and punch, chasing is achieved by beating down the front surface of the metal to form the design. To create a relief design by chasing, the area adjacent is beaten down to form the background and leave the pattern proud.
Repoussé and Embossing
This effect occurs when metal is beaten from the reverse side, pushing the design up from beneath. Chasing and repoussé are both ancient methods of decorating metal and are often used together on one piece.
Metal engraving is the process of cutting a line in metal using hand pressure on cutting tool.
Carving is cutting a line of metal away from the face of the piece by hammering the cutting tool.
To inlay metal is to remove an area from the face of the piece with a cutting tool, and replace the removed metal with one of a different tone. The new metal is pressed into place. Gold is frequently inlayed into other metals.
Decorating work with a leaf or powder form of a precious metal is called gilding. Gold gilding is the most common metal used, but it can also be done with silver, copper or palladium. It leaves a thin layer of precious metal on the surface for a decorative finish.
Enamelling is fusing glass to metal and can be done by filling a hollow, or by creating a raised frame in metal and filling the frame.
Etching on metal uses acids and other chemicals to create a design on the surface.
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