Il Maestro Acquafresca 2012 Workshop

by genevieve on April 26, 2012


I will start by saying that it has been too long since I blogged!  So, I hope to be consistently posting about classes and/or workshops that happen in my studio,  Genevieve Flynn Studio 


Tony, Fabrizio & Katye


Students @ Genevieve Flynn Studio









Above is the ‘graduating” class of 2012 Students are as follows: Front left to right Rose Staley and Katye Thomas, second row- Kimberly Vaughn, Jennifer Finley, Susan Silvy and Kari Greene, back row- Susan Bruna, Arden Riordan, Fabrizio Acquafresca and Christopher Cicala.

Vase by Il Maestro Acquafresca


On April 7, 2012 my studio hosted a Chasing & Repousse Workshop with master Fabrizio Acquafresca, from Florence, Italy.  This was not the first class Fabrizio has taught at the studio, but it was the best by far!!!

Fabrizio offered two classes this year.  The first being a beginners class in Chasing & Repousse the Italian Way and the second Chasing & Repousse using the Snarling Iron.  I am going to talk about the first class in this blog and will work on the Snarling Iron blog soon!

I would like to start out by saying that if you have not met or taken a class with Fabrizio then you are missing out on one heck of a good time AND an instructor so attentive to each student!  But the best thing about Fabrizio is he can teach ANYONE to chase and repousse!  That is why he is the master!!  Fabrizio has 29 years of experience in the art of chasing and repousse.  He started when he was 13 and worked in his uncles’ factory in Florence starting at the bottom learning the skills of being a chaser.  After 25 years of working at his craft Fabrizio was awarded the top of honor from the Italian government of being a Master of Chasing and Repousse.  This is quite an honor to have bestowed upon someone.

Fabrizio has created many many works with a team of master Italian craftsmen.  And the works created are all over the world.  Fabrizio and 5 other ‘masters”are the only ones teaching this dieing art.

The beginning class was attended by 10 students, which is the maximum that the studio can hold.  Each student is asked to start out by transferring a dragonfly pattern to their 22 gauge copper sheet.  After the pattern is on the metal,  the copper sheet is then put into Italian pitch, or tar as Fabrizio calls it, as that is what it is.  He buys “virgin” road tar and then adds lard and calcium carbonate per his recipe.  “Virgin” tar you ask?   It is truly road tar that has not been used on the roads!  And your next question would be…Why in the world would anyone use road tar!!!  I asked myself this question three years ago when I met and took my first workshop with Fabrizio. ( I had been using  black pitch for years and was introduced to Red German Pitch by Valentin Yotkov (another excellent Master of chasing and repousse .  Of which I really like!)  The red pitch is a more pleasant smelling product along with being a harder pitch.

When I took the workshop with Fabrizio I had decided to use the tools and pitch that were provided by him.   I was pleasantly surprised at how supple the black pitch is.  (However, I do not like removing this tar.  I think I would be safe to say that when burnt off it emits some nasty smells and smoke.)  So if you decide to use this pitch then PLEASE make sure you have adequate ventilation or at least take it outside.  It can be removed with mineral spirits only if you have NOT attempted to burn it off.

So, the pitch is heated and the copper sheet is put into the pitch.  It is then cooled down by running cold water over the surface.  There is a fine line as to how cold the pitch should be.  When you think it is ready you merely dry the pitch with the copper sheet in place and then place the back of your hand on the copper sheet.  If it is warm you are ready to go, if it feels cold then you warm it up a bit as you don’t want to work with cold, hard pitch.

Now the fun begins!  With instruction from Fabrizio, you start using a chasing hammer and tools to push the image into the pitch, this part is called repousse.  You have to remember that you will be working on the back side of the image and it can be tricky to think in reverse (I still find it a challenge.)   So, you use different shaped punches to push the metal or “raise” the metal.  Once you have done this work it is time to remove the piece from the pitch, burn it off and fill the back with pitch so the hollow image you have created doesn’t collapse when you start to refine your image on the front side.  (This part is what I really enjoy, most of time!)  The detailing of the front of the image is called chasing.  Many lining tools and other shaped chasing tools are used to create depth and volume.  When you have finished experimenting how the metal moves and detailing the dragonfly you are set free by Il Maestro, to decide upon a new design and start the process over.  All of the students finished their dragonfly in a day or day and half.  Many of the students decided to make a bracelet either in copper or silver.  Most chose to work in Argentium but some in sterling silver.  I believe that Argentium is a wonderful alternative to silver, but that is a personal choice.   (Unfortunately, I did not take any photos of this years students dragonflys so you will see a couple of images from 2011 students)


The images below are from Katye Thomas.  The first image is of the back of the bracelet with a copper sheet next to it so Fabrizio could demonstrate how to do the repousse without actually doing the work on the student’s piece.  The second image is of the bracelet after it has been turned over and put back into the pitch, ready for detailing/chasing.  The third image is Katye’s finished bracelet.  Kudo’s Katye!!!















Above/ Kari Greene’s first project “Iris”                             Above/Kari Greene’s second project “Owl”

This was Kari’s second year taking a class with Il Maestro.  She too started last year, 2011, by making a dragonfly.


Below is Debbie Asher’s bracelet in Argentium.  She created a dragonfly and then this beautiful floral cuff!!!

As you can see, Il Maestro has a knack for teaching and enjoys people.  I am so thankful to have met him and to be able to host such a wonderful artist in my studio for others to learn from and to enjoy!!!

You can view upcoming workshops at Genevieve Flynn Studio by going to     I will be blogging about the Snarling Workshop soon!!!  Happy chasing!

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