Reading the latest edition of SNAG News, I couldn't help but notice that nearly everyone teaching some type of repousse is now offering a short workshop on repousse cuff bracelets. I sincerely feel bad for these guys because I picture people taking in photos of certain cuff bracelets (yes, mine) and saying, "teach me to make this!" Unless these instructors have developed some alchemical formula allowing them to change the laws of physics, including the space-time continuum, I'm not sure how anyone could teach a real repousse cuff bracelet in 2 or 3 days.

No one, so far as I know, has yet to figure out how to deeply repousse a flat disk and then raise it into a bowl with the high relief repousse intact. Alas, doing a rounded strip of high relief then turning it into a cuff is subject to those same laws of physics. Metalsmiths are always so anxious to have show and tell, and for those who make jewelry, they have it right there and handy to show off (yes, me too). The cuffs I've seen from people showing off work from other classes are of a very different process with a vastly different result from what I do.

To me, a repousse cuff means that the structure of the cuff itself is repousse, and that's a long process. Students in these other workshops are taught to do a small amount of rather low relief repousse on a larger sheet that won't get warped much if only the areas next to the repousse are bent into a curve. These other projects may be a cuff bracelet with some repousse decoration, which is fine, but I wouldn't call them "repousse cuffs."

I often get asked how many hours it takes to make one of my repousse cuffs. My answer is that they have to be measured in months not hours. I spend a whole week just getting the fine planished finish on the surface. If it's a repousse cuff made from a mokume gane billet, then I spend another 2 days after the fine planishing, grinding off the surface to reveal the pattern.

My purpose in teaching Eastern repousse is to foster and promulgate the technique so that people not only make cool stuff in class but that they develop a working knowledge of the process and can go out into the world ready to put their own ideas into relief as a cuff, a ring, a necklace, or a door.

Unfortunately, there is not enough time in a workshop, even a 5 day one, to have students make a real repousse cuff bracelet, like the ones I create. I do, however, give all the information I've figured out so they can go about it in the future. My workshops are not a one-time event where people all make the same thing. The other good news is that, since developing the process to create my repousse cuffs, I've been able to translate it to making repousse rings, and these I can demo in a 2-day workshop and have students make themselves in a 5-day workshop.

I'm always happy to see artists getting smarter about marketing, whether it's for their artwork or their workshops. Nonetheless, we all remember the old adage, "Buyer beware."

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