metalwork. Copper, gold, and silver were probably fashioned into ornaments and amulets as early as the Neolithic period. Goldwork and silverwork have since employed the talents of leading artisans and artists in making jewelry, plate, inlays, and sculpture. The first great advance in metalworking occurred when techniques for making bronze sculpture were developed during the Bronze Age. Brass, an alloy of copper with zinc, came into use later (see brasses, monumental; brasses, ornamental). The Iron Age provided a cheaper medium used chiefly for tools and ornamental ironwork until modern times, when improved methods, alloys, and machinery made iron available and essential to the industrial and structural trades. Pewter, tin, and lead have been used in industrial and art metalwork. Methods of shaping metals include drawing, spinning, hammering, and casting; various decorative processes include chasing, damascening, embossing, enamel work, filigree, gilding, inlaying, niello, and repoussé.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.