Ceramic - Pottery Dictionary

by Susan Mussi




Repoussé, the dictionary explanation is: “A design raised in relief by hammering out on the reverse side.” It is a French word meaning “pushed up”. The word also applies to a design in three dimensions but in reverse, pushed inwards not outwards. When using clay, it can either be built up or dug out so the design is inwards, but with marble the design has to be carved out.

The photo above shows a work in Barcelona by Josep Mª Subirachs, a well-known Catalan sculptor who is now actually working to finish Gaudi’s “Sagrada Familia”. It is carved in marble; all the design protrudes outwards except the face, which is carved inwards so all the features are indented. It is only when you are up close that you realize this, as when you are far away you have the optical illusion that it is done in the same way as the rest of the design.