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Repousse’ I – “Leaf Processes”

Posted by bighornforge on April 12, 2011


The following is one of several installments that I will post regarding repousse’ artist Nahum Hersom’s teachings. This segment of his teaching instructs the student how to prepare and apply a leaf pattern for repousse’ work.

(Note: I am copying Nahum’s words verbatim. Some references he makes apply to other of his writings. My additions are in double parenthesis.)

Leaf Processes

1.) Design and lay-out leaf, using ((Artsist Blacksmith Association of North America’s 10th Anniversary edition of the Anvil’s Ring)) ABANA and ((Max)) Metzger’s books as guides. Use Hersom’s layout “T” tool to help design leaf patterns.

2.) Use copy machine to enlarge or shrink size of leaf (pattern) if not correct.

3.) make and cut out paper pattern. I glue copy machine paper patterns to manilla file folder card and cut out. Punch corners of leaf pattern before cutting out to have good round corners.

4.) Double check segments of leaf to see if they will clear or overlap when leaf is bent to fit scroll or work. Make corrections to open or closed leaf segments to fit design. You can use cut-and-tape “quickly” methods of revamping leaf segments or patterns.

5.) If the pattern is correct, determine method to cut-out leaf: shear, band saw, chisel cut, plasma arc or laser cut. Shop bench shear work is OK for a few leaves but if hundreds are to be cut, check laser or plasma arc, depending on the outline of leaf. Laser cuts very clean and sharp points. Plasma makes 1/8″ cut so is more crude, and needs extra grinding out of edges (with 1/8″ grinding wheel or sanding belts. 2″ belts do fine.) Laser or plasma cut leaves–anneal edges before hammering. Cold rolled leaves have to be annealed–see welding heat treating notes for recommended process.

6.) To shear leaves if more than one or two, cut tin pattern, as edges of paper patterns tend to shred away. Use cheap flat black paint on surface to see scribed line.

7.) To band saw, make multiple copies on copy machine and glue to metal with rubber cement (stationary store) (see band saw blade in supplies.) Set saw blades and speed for cutting metal. Use a 1″ high pedistal when cutting out leaves. See drawing information in workbook.

8.) Before cutting leaf, the inner corners must either be punched out or a hole drilled through leaf to protect corner from splitting when hammering, called “xyz” marks.

9.) A jig saw with fine blades or air craft snips do well on some metals of various thicknesses (see supply sheet for tool catalogue.)

10.) Use a red ((or black)) Sharpie ((TM)) pen for marking leaf work. For some work I make tin segment patterns so I can duplicate lines on work from leaf to leaf.

11.) Tools used to form a leaf are separated from other tools and put in cans near vise. Also, i sometimes mark tools 1,2,3, with felt pen in order of sequence in use. Tools laid on bench tend to pile up and seem to get lost.

12.) Before hammering, file edges of leaves and corners to remove all burrs, as these will start splits and may ruin leaves.

13.) Also by filing edges of leaves, one cleans up contours on segments to make both sides of leaf semetrical and even. To be able to file al segmants and recesses on leaves, you bend segments of leaf out af the way, (you can file corners better if you grind gripper tteth off a pair of simple pliers and round jaw parts.) grind smooth. This prevents scratch marks on leaves–especially on no-ferrous metals. After filing edges, wire brush as it makes a smooth velvet-like finish. In fact, I wire brush as I hammer lines into leaaves so I can better see edges and contours. (Wire brush removes some hammer marks and layout pencil lines and smudges.)

14.) Punch paper on tin patterns with small rectangle slots that will follow lines and configurattions, that will later be hammered into shapes and designs. Place pattern on leaf, after it has been filed and wire brushed to remove sharp burrs. Scribe mark all slots through pattern, remove pattern and connect spots with scribe or red ((black)) Sharpie ((TM)) pen.

((End of this section.))

…..Dan Nauman

“Gold is for the Mistress,
Silver for the Maid,
Copper for the Craftsman,
Cunning in his trade.
“Hark” said the Baron,
Sitting in his hall,
“Iron, cold iron,
Will be Master of them all.”

….From Nahum Hersom’s Collection of Poems.

One Response to “Repousse’ I – “Leaf Processes””

  1. Pat Roy said

    Hi Dan, I come to visit your website and blog every once in a while. I always go away inspired. I hope it pleases you to know that I have worked a lot of copper (and steel) since August 2011. And no, I don’t think you are nuts.
    Happy New Year!
    Pat Roy

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