A-Z of miniatures crafts: R is for repoussé

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13 July 2021
Learn how to make a miniature pewter or trinket box for your dolls house or miniature scene in this easy tutorial by Ann Sutcliffe, using the repoussé technique.

Is your miniature scene missing a pewter or trinket box? Look no further!

What is repoussé? 

Repoussé is also known as relief embossing and is the technique where a malleable metal is given an ornamental design by shaping and hammering from the reverse side. This creates a design in low relief which was much used in the Art Nouveau period to create decorative objects. 

The repoussé project Ann has devised is to make a pewter box in the style of Liberty of London with Ruskin style cabochon decoration – in miniature, of course! 

DIY miniature trinket box tutorial

By Ann Sutcliffe

1. Cut a small block of wood. Mine is 3/4” x 1/2” and 3/8” deep. Cut a thin piece of wood for the top slightly larger all round than the block.

Small blocks of wood

Top tip! This makes a good-sized jewellery or keepsake box in 1/12th scale.

2. Colour the base of the box block with wood stain or paint – the rest will be covered with metal.

Wood base

3. Remove the white metal from a tea light and cut a piece to go around the sides of your box. Trim it to size leaving an overlap and mark where the corners will be. Add your design to each of these rectangles with a fine marker pen. This is the inside so won’t show on the finished piece.

Metal strip with design

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4. Tape the piece of metal to a mouse mat and create the pattern with a fine ball stylus. Turn it over and see if you like what you’ve done. If not, try again on another tea light. Flatten slightly if necessary using minimal pressure from the handles of your scissors.

Embossed design

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5. Crease the corners – wrap and glue in place trimming the overlap at the back to make a neat join.

Metal wrapped around wood block

6. Take the circular piece of metal and flatten out with the handles of your scissors. Draw round the wooden top piece with the permanent marker pen. Draw the design on the top including a central boss for the Ruskin style cabochon and emboss into the metal as before. Invert and use the ball stylus to indent the central cabochon area.

Circular metal flattened with embossed design

7. Glue the wood to the underside of the top and then score, fold and glue the metal over the sides and under the edges, cutting away the excess.

Embossed lid of mini pewter trinket

8. Use a toothpick to drip nail polish into the central depression to make the cabochon, and when this is dry glue the top in place on the box.

Finished miniature embossed pewter trinket

Dive into the rest of our A-Z series, starting with E for embellishing where you’ll learn how to embellish miniature furniture

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