Chasing is a metalwork technique with a variety of uses, from the removal of surplus metal to refine a surface design, to the creation of a decorative surface texture. The technique involves the use of a hammer and a chasing tool that resembles a small blunt chisel.
The technique of flat chasing has been used since antiquity to create low relief decorative imagery and surface textures. The metal is hammered with a variety of tools that enable the metalsmith to draw lines, form letters, outline shapes and make linear patterns and ornamentation. A skilled metalsmith can create surface lines that closely resemble engraved surfaces.
To create the decorative surface desired, the design would first be carefully scribed onto the exterior of the metal plate to be chased, acting as a guide for the metalsmith. The chasing tool is moved carefully across the surface as it is hammered to create the intended impression. Flat chasing does not remove metal from the surface of the object.
Text and photography:Kevin O'Dwyer