Friday, 30 July 2010

Pewtersmith in the making?


Ok, I just have to explain one thing first: in Swedish we normally don't make any difference between tin (= tenn) and pewter (= hårdtenn, literally hard tin). Therefore I'm sometimes unsure whether to call something tin or pewter. As with this sheet of metal. Silver is called silver even when it's alloyed with copper to make sterling silver: tin is not called tin when alloyed with antimony and copper to make pewter -- but in Swedish it is. Therefore I sometimes write tin and sometimes pewter when referring to this metal.


So this was one of the things I got in the big parcel yesterday, a 100x166 mm tin sheet, 0,5 mm thick -- I choose the thinnest one as it was the cheapest... A soft alloy consisting of 92,5 % tin, 5,5 % antimony and 2 % copper. I've always been very fond of tin/pewter, not least due to it's long history. I've also seen some fab works by pewtersmiths over the years, which has also made me appreciate tin. I've been wanting to work with tin for years now. Who wants silver when you can have tin?




The necklace is not made by me. It's one my mom bought for me once, made by a Swedish artisan (don't know the name). This heart shows some of the things I'd love to learn: how to engrave or diamond cut pewter and creating a contrast between the shiny carved recesses and a mattened surface.




As with other pewter items, tin jewellery is often stamped. It increases the value to have a stamped year code, the word tenn (= tin, pewter) and the maker's own stamp. In this case, the artisan has engraved his or her initials. If making jewellery, I'd like to do that too. And not just because it increases the value. Pity these stamps are so expensive...




But I digress... Right now I'm sooo far away from making my own tin jewellery, talking about hallmarking and stamps is getting ahead of things.

I have a second piece of pewter jewellery too.




This is a cast tin pendant, part of a series depicting the churches in Bjäre hundred (härad). As a kid I used to sing in the children's church choir in Hov so therefore I wanted to buy this necklace even though it might otherwise be more logical to buy the pendant for the church in the parish our hamlet lies in. Not being christian, that wasn't very interesting to me, I wanted it as a memory of the years in that choir.


Apart from the other above mentioned techniques, I'd also be interested in learning some easy casting methods. Perhaps never creating something as spectacular as the component and beads below, but having some fun water-casting (as in the old new year's eve tradition) and sand-casting. That last one is a small pewter button, one of the many Norwegian pewter buttons I own. I like the often folkloristic motifs that are used as the button often are made to be sewn to traditional or rustic knitted clothes.

But for now I only have one thing: this soft, pretty thin sheet of pewter. I must get a saw soon so I can at least cut out pendants and shapes. And my own drill -- being able to make holes is very useful. Don't have any gravers, but I have papers to acheive that matt surface I want. And I've got lead-free tin solder. Then I guess I must find a good book or online tuts for more directions. I'm usually self-taught, but if I had the money I'd love to take a course in pewter jewellery making.

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