Transferring images to metal for chasing and repousse

Transferring images to metal for chasing and repousse has always been somewhat of a challenge. There are lots of processes that I have seen used and tried myself, and most of them don’t work very well. I have previously tried to come up with a better method, looking into video projectors designed for cookie artists, transfer paper, leatherworking stitch-marking tools, and other processes that may have worked but were either too time-comnsuming or expensive.

What I did find, that works well for me, uses just a few simple supplies and is quick and easy.

Here’s how the process works:

The supplies needed are a ballpoint pen (not a gel pen or sharpie), a reference image, wax paper, tape ( I prefer artist’s tape because I can get a few uses out of each piece), a piece of metal, a burnisher, and a hard work surface.

  • Tape the reference image to a hard surface. It should be the mirror image of what you want to see on the metal.
  • Tape the wax paper over the drawing.
  • Trace the image on the wax paper. The ball point isn’t easy to use on the wax paper, it may want to slide if you push too hard, or the ink might not flow. If you are having trouble getting the ink to flow, try scribbling on a piece of regular paper until the ink flows well.
  • Pull up your tracing and check to make sure that there are no gaps or thin spots in the ink; you will want to fix those before you transfer.
  • Tape down your metal, or at least make sure it is secure.
  • Put the tape on the wax paper, line it up over the metal, and hold it taut to position it. Tape the wax paper, with the image ink-side down, onto the metal.
  • Burnish over the whole image.
  • Lift off the tape.

The image will smear a little bit at first but if left to dry for a few minutes, it will be pretty durable. If it didn’t work well and you want to re-do it, you can remove the image with a little bit of rubbing alcohol on a piece of cotton or a shop rag.

I Recommend that for chasing, you also use a scratch awl or a scribe to scratch your image into the metal because the transfer will not survive being heated with a torch.