Chasing & Repousse Tools

by laurie jane kern on April 24, 2011

Last week a reader of this blog sent me a question about Chasing & Repousse tools. We exchanged several emails and afterwards I though, this would make a good post for others too read.  

Remember, I am by no means a master of this technique (yet).  These are my opinions and I am not endorsing any tool maker nor am I not recommending  a tool maker by not mentioning them either. 

Here is the entire email thread starting with C’s question:  

Hi Laurie, I’d like to pick your brain, as a newbie in the Chasing & Repousse field, on your opinion of the tools from Mettle Works vs. the Nechamkin set. Do they duplicate each other or are they a good combination to use together? What did you like or dislike about each? What additional tools would you add immediately?
Thanks for your input!!! 
Regards C.
Dear C.
I hope the following answers your questions and IF not, feel free to ask more specific questions in another email (just reply to this one). 
I think the tools from Mettle Works are good. 
I also think the Nechamkin set is good and they are certainly “prettier” than those from the Mettle Works. 

Since I also now know how to make tools, I have several I have made too.

Would I pick one set over the other – No and Yes. It is what you are working on that will influence which tool you use. Obviously the quality of the tool will have an influence on the work as sharp edges can make unwanted marks; a tool that is short for your hand will make it difficult to hold and hit accurately; if the tool has not been tempered properly will result in a shorter tool life as well (several months or a year vs. YEARS). Which has better quality? Excluding the pretty factor, I consider the quality the same.

I will now talk about cost. The Nechamkin set as a whole costs quite a bit more than a set from Mettle Works and that is because you get 25 tools vs 12. When you look at the per tool cost the difference is just under a dollar.  

Then there is availability. I was able to get one of the first Nechamkin sets and I know there is a back order for them on OttoFrei. They are being made and I have met people who have received their sets but had to wait a few months. For a set from Mettle Works, I think you only have to wait a week or two if they are out of stock.

After I took my first class with Nancy Megan Corwin, I bought the MW set (as the N set was not even an option) I also looked at a set by Valintine Y. but his set costs quite a bit more and I was uncertain if I would continue doing C&R so getting an affordable set was my goal.  I made several pieces with just the MW set as was not disappointed or had any issues with them. When I took my second class with NMCorwin, I took both my sets – as you read in the blog everyone looked at the N set and thought they were pretty and NMC used them and agreed they were good. Were they better than the MW set or her own – NO, they are just different. We even discussed a few tools we thought were missing, and I sent Lisa N. an email which started a discussion between the two of us. It all came down to which tools she thought would be used by someone the most and every artist finds they use some tools more often than others. 

When I am working on a piece I find I use several tools from each set (mine, MW, and N), and over time I have use most of the MettleWorks tools but  with Nechamkin there are still some tools I have not used on any piece. I use my tools on and off because they were made for a specific purpose/project and they have slowly been added to my standard technique/textures.

May I ask you where are you learning C&R?  Who is your teacher (if you have one) What tools are you using now if you don’t have a set?

IF I can give any suggestion, I would like to say that getting a copy of of NMCorwin’s book. It is one of the best things you can do. I still go back and read chapters. 

What tools should you get for a starter set – you need liners (straight and curved), punchers, and planishers. In at least two different sizes.  The N set gives you these in 3 different sizes and several extra shapes. The MW set even though some are called liners, are really pushers (the first 4 on the left, in the picture on the website, are pushers but can also be used as liners, the next two are specifically liners, the next three, the pearls, are pushers and for texture, the three on right are planishers while the teardrop can also be used as a pusher as well.  The N set duplicates some of these tools but are different as well – the curved liners in the N set are not really in the MW set but a short thin straight liner can be used to line curves if you know how.  (I have met some people who do C&R and they only use 5 small tools!) 

Whew – are you still with me? 
So what would I do? I would still start with the MW basic set. And even though I can make my own tools, it comes down to time and I am even now pondering getting a few different tools from MW (from the custom tool page Pete Renzetti’s set of small chasing tools)

IF you think, after all of this, that you have quite a few more questions and it would be easier to talk, let me know and I will send you my phone number and we can set up a time to talk.  Laurie 

Hi Laurie,
Thanks for your fast reply.

I am planning to take a class from Megan in March. I do have her book and a bowl & pitch on the way, but no tools yet so your information is very helpful. A friend has the set from Mettle Works and is very interested in the Nechamkin set (with the addition of some undercutting tools). The photos of each look like there is little (if any) duplication. I know that I will not have time to make tools after I learn how, so am trying to get set up to continue working after the class.

Wow, Pete Renzetti  certainly has lots of tools! Looking forward to the day people say the same about me!

I think I’ll go ahead and order the MW set then re-evaluate after class.
Thanks again for your input.
Hi C – 
In Megan’s class she lets you use all of her tools but there are times you want a tool and it is being used by someone else and then you have to go hunting to see who has it – and even if they are not using it right then, they are reluctant to give it up. IF you can get your set before the class with Megan, do so, that way you are not loosing time waiting for a tool just to start lining for example.

Also get some nail polish or tape and mark your tools so you don’t loose them or they go wandering off. I was willing to let others use my tools but at the end of the day, I count to make sure I have them all back. I use purple nail polish in a band, to mark my tools, as it holds up and does not peel off easily. BTW, Megan uses blue painters tape to mark hers. You could do the same and maybe you will end up with some extra tools ;=)

I would also suggest you take your camera to take pictures though out the class. You saw how many I posted, there are many more I did not. I take pictures each step of the way and when something is pointed out to correct, I take a picture of the before correction and after, as reviewing the pictures when I get home has helped me correct the mistakes in the future. And of course a notebook for notes about what you are learning and the pictures.

You will have fun, come home tired but very excited. 
Tell Megan I said hello.
Hi Laurie,
Great suggestions about marking tools- hadn’t considered that, thanks. On my way to buy some blue painters tape. Wonder if Megan will notice not having any tools left at the end of class???!!! I like the idea of fingernail polish, I could get very creative. I’ll definitely take my camera.

One more question. You said the N set had “a few tools we thought were missing”. What would you add?
Thanks again,

C -As for the missing tools, One was an under cutter and the other was a sheep foot planisher.

And one more thing, I think on the third day Megan will give you an intro to making tools and the chance to make one… When I took the original two day, we did not cover making tools. In the 2nd class I took, which was a three day, she did but I only watched the demo’s and spent the time, while some people made a tool, working on my project. I did this because I was going to take the extended class with Val, at Metals Week, on making tools. SO if even if you don’t make a tool, pay attention to the steps. Then, in the future, if you take another class  and have an opportunity to make a tool(s) some of it will be familiar (especially reading the book) and it will be easier to pickup.  I bring this up because you will have your set by then (have you place your order yet?) and it may not be as important to make a tool… I doubt there will be a lot of time to make a “special tool”

Thanks Laurie,
I have ordered a set of tools from MW. Sounds like another reason to bring a camera to class! Thanks for all your input!

laurie jane kern

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