Sharon Amber teaches ancient jewelry-making technique

Repoussé and chasing pieces created by Cannon Beach jewelry artist Sharon Amber

Renowned jewelry artist Sharon Amber presents an intimate, hands-on, three-day repoussé and chasing workshop in Cannon Beach.

Over the course of three afternoons — 1 to 4 p.m. Tuesday, March 20, to Thursday, March 22 — students will design and create their own piece of handmade, one-of-a-kind copper jewelry. No experience is necessary.

“If I can teach fifth graders to do it,” Amber said, “I can teach anyone.”

Repoussé and chasing are ancient forms of metalworking developed some 5,000 years ago in the age of antiquity.

Designs will be developed, transferred to the copper, traced, hammered and cut out. As the low-relief process is tapped out in a bowl lined with tree pitch (which cushions the blow), works of repoussé and chasing exhibit more three-dimensional qualities.

While Amber will assist with design-making and provide examples, she suggests that students consider what they might like to put on their copper canvas in advance.

“I want everyone to bring some designs in mind,” Amber said. “But I will also bring some art nouveau designs in books. Celtic knots, faces, flowers and art nouveau lend themselves to this technique very well.”

Amber began her decades-long jewelry career working in repoussé and chasing, partly because of the low barrier to entry.

“You just need a few hand tools,” Amber said. “It’s very mobile.”

As such, students of the course will gain all the necessary skills to continue working on their own. The cost of equipment — mostly a set of hand chisels — is also relatively modest.

Other forms of jewelry making, such as wax casting, require more intense equipment, such as a kiln.

“Wax casting would be a much bigger investment,” Amber said. “It’s harder to do at home on an amateur budget. But repoussé and chasing is really accessible, and the results are absolutely beautiful.”

It’s very meditative, “and you end up watching this piece of jewelry just appear before your eyes,” Amber added. “It’s really cool.”

The workshop costs $200. All materials are included. Because of the intimate nature of the course, class size is extremely limited and an RSVP is required.

To register, contact the Tolovana Arts Colony at tolovanaartscolony@gmail.com or call 541-215-4445. Classes will be held at Tolovana Hall (3779 S. Hemlock, Cannon Beach).

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