Repousse

What is repousse?

A method of embossing metal by stamping and hammering a design from the back to produce a three-dimensional bas-relief surface on the front.

Here is an excerpt from Indian Jewelry Making by Oscar T. Branson that shows the process.

Below are some examples of the repousse technique used by Native American jewelers.

One of the most classic uses of the repousse techniques is on ketohs (bowguards).

Ketoh (bowguard) by Navajo artist Daniel Martinez

View the slide show for other uses of repousse on ketohs. (Read more about ketohs on my previous post.)

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Sterling Silver Repousse Buckle by Floyd Arviso

Sterling Silver Repousse Cross by Robert Joe, Navajo

Orange Spiny Oyster and Satin Finish Sterling bumble bee pin by Tim Yazzie

    

A vintage NOS (New Old Stock) pin marked AP Sterling

The technique was used by Bell Trader’s craftsmen in the Fred Harvey era such as this copper cuff bracelet.

Read more about the Fred Harvey era in my previous post.


View the slide show below to see examples of Navajo barrettes that feature repousse designs.

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Paula

Native American Feather Hair Ornament

Hello Paula

I would like to get a feather to wear on the side of my hair – however my hair is very fine and “thinning.” I have it cut to below ears in a “bob.” In looking at feather ornaments on your site I do not see how I could fasten one into my hair – looks like most are for ponytails, etc. Also, I would like the feather not to hang down too far. Would appreciate your advice. Thank you.

Hello !

Well, we have two types of feather hair ornaments. One type is an actual feather made into a feather hair tie. This is a Lakota tradition and the hair ties we have are made by Oglala Lakotas from South Dakota. Here is an example of some of the shorter ones we have but you can click on the photo and it will take you to the page with our current selection.

If I were affixing this type of hair ornament to my hair so it would hang down on the side like we see all the time on today’s celebrity singers and dancers, I’d section off a small bundle of hair underneath, fasten the hair tie to the hair bundle near the roots with one of those tiny rubber bands and then let the rest of your hair surround the feather so it peeks out when your hair moves.

As far as what length would work for you, the best way to determine that is with a ruler and a paper cut out in the approximate shape of a feather – hold it in place and see how it looks.

Lakota Hair Ties

As far as sterling silver hair ornaments, or barrettes, yes we have some beautiful feathers but they are quite long and some are heavy, made to hold back a large hank of hair at the nape of the neck.

They are over 3″ long and would be difficult to use as you are hoping for.

Sterling Silver Feather Barrette by Carson Blackgoat over 4″ long

Sterling Silver and Turquoise Feather Barrette by Milton Vandever – over 3″ long

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Native American Barrettes – Which Weight Do You Like?

When it comes to Native American barrettes, there are all styles and sizes. Many of them use a standard spring clip to fasten the embellishment to the hair. But the sterling silver barrette attached to the spring clip can vary widely in weight.

Some people like a very heavy sterling silver barrette. They might have a lot of very thick hair. Or use the barrette at the nape of the neck pulling all the hair back.

Others like a featherweight barrette. Maybe they have thin or very slick hair and don’t want the weight of the barrette to cause it to lose its grip and slip down. Or perhaps they use one barrette on each side or to just pull part of the hair back.

Whatever the reason, we all have our personal preferences and uses for barrettes and it is good to know that there are choices available. Take, for example, the popular large feather barrette.

Both of these barrettes are set on the same 2 1/2″ long spring clip.

2 1/2″ long spring clip

This substantial feather barrette, by Navajo Carson Blackgoat, is 4 1/8″ long and weighs 25 grams.

Heavy Sterling Silver Feather Barrette by Carson Blackgoat, Navajo

This lighter version by Navajo artist Milton Vandever is 3 1/4″ long and weighs 13 grams.

Lightweight Sterling Silver Feather Barrette by Milton Vandever, Navajo

Which barrette do you prefer?