Thistle Cuff in FINE, .999, Silver
This original design cuff was created in Fine Silver over three days using chasing and repousse techniques. The stunning design shows two branches of thistle coming from each side to meet in the middle. A truly breathtaking one of a kind piece.
The prickly purple thistle was adopted as the Emblem of Scotland during the reign of Alexander III (1249 -1286). Legend has it that an Army of King Haakon of Norway, intent on conquering the Scots landed at the Coast of Largs at night to surprise the sleeping Scottish Clansmen. In order to move more stealthily under the cover of darkness the Norsemen removed their footwear. As they drew near to the Scots it wasn't the only thing hiding under the cover of darkness. For one of Haakon’s men unfortunately stood on one of these spiny little defenders and shrieked out in pain, alerting the Clansmen of the advancing Norsemen. Needless to say the Scots won the day.
The techniques of repoussé and chasing date from Antiquity and have been used widely with gold and silver for fine detailed work
The process of chasing and repoussé requires a number of steps.
After the design is created on both sides of the metal, the metal plate is annealed, heated with a torch, to make it as malleable as possible. This process has to be repeated several times, as metal hardens by the hammering.
The plate is then fixed to a pitch or tar plate that has been heated until it is soft enough to make good contact with the metal, filling all its nooks and crannies, and then allowed to cool. At room temperature, the pitch must be hard enough to adhere to the metal and hold it in place, but still soft and pliable enough to "give" as the metal is hammered into it.
Once the plate is firmly held by the pitch, front side down, the main repoussé work is then performed, using a variety of punches. This creates the basic impression of the design in the metal.
Once the main repoussé is done, the piece is again released by heating. The cavities on the back side, created by the repoussé work, are filled with melted pitch. Once that filling has hardened, the plate is again turned over and placed on top of a layer of softened pitch. Once the pitch has hardened, the design is then refined by chasing. Chasing is the process that produces all the detail.
These procedures can be repeated several times, alternating between repoussé and chasing.