Silver is one of the seven metals of antiquity, usually found with lead in nature. This brilliantly white shining metal takes second place for preciousness after gold. Silver ornaments, silver cutlery, religious figures, decorative items, and utility objects like solar panels, electric conducts, etc., are some of the products made out of silver. Since the evolution of mankind, man has used his intelligence and creativity to develop things that are useful and easily made. He started first with stones and woods, later moving to elements like gold, silver, and copper, naturally found in the form of nuggets. These metals being fairly fusible and malleable, man-shaped them with the help of firewoods and charcoal, urging their highest application in the coming ages.
The Silver artifacts date back to the 4th millennium BC when Turkish inhabitants extracted silver from lead through Cupellation. Remains of this metal in the form of coins and rings were later found from parts of Mesopotamia, marking its monetary use for centuries. During the 3rd millennium BC, silver and gold sheets were pressed against wood stencil or wax cast to make soft utility objects in the Middle East. Kurin, a Syrian village, raised itself to a Global repute with their archaic design on silver altar vessels, which has won a place in the Classical pieces. Egyptians were also found to resort to silver objects taking their ductile nature, making decorative items out of it. Here resin and mud were introduced as repoussage backing, while in 400 BC, Greece used Beeswax as a filler. Greek armor plates and Roman silver found from England and France also ended the results of the repoussage and chasing technique. Repousse and chasing are commonly used in India to create objects of silver sheets such as water vessels. As silver is ductile than gold, its thin sheets could be easily embossed and engraved, followed by natural granular facile detailed decorations. Hence different types of vessels, statues, and jewelry were widely found from scattered areas of the world, yielding elegant antiques for our references.
Embossing is a technique of creating an impression of a particular design, decoration, lettering, or pattern on another surface. In regular printing or engraving, plates are pressed against the surface to leave an imprint. However, in embossing, the high-pressure pressing raises the surfaces adding a new dimension to the object. Embossing names on credit cards, embossed Braille books for the blind, embossed jewelry items, wedding cards, and coins are few examples from daily life, underlining its aesthetic purposes to practical uses. There are different types of embossing, namely blind embossing, tint embossing, and glazing, which give varied results individually.
Embossing involves two stages; repoussage and chasing. Repoussage is a form of Toreutics in which a malleable metal is ornamented or shaped by hammering from the reverse side. While chasing being the opposite of repoussage, it is a technique of refining the front side of the work after repoussage by sinking the metal slightly. A combination of these two steps is collectively known as embossing. Repousse, a French word that means “to push” and chase refers to “channel, or indentation”. This embossing process marks the least rate of metal loss because the element used is stretched to keep the surface continuous and maintain a particular thickness. The notable zenith of the technique is that traces of direct contact of the tools used are usually visible in the end result, which is unseen in other methods, where all evidence of the working method is eliminated.