Craft 69/365 Pewter Casting
As promised from an earlier post:https://squarebird.wordpress.com/2014/03/10/more-fire-art-coming-soon-but-not-pyrography/ you can now find out what all that ‘fire’ blogging was about!
I’m not phased by the sight of a blow torch fired up; a set of gauntlets and wearing goggles but it’s a bit daunting holding a ladle of liquid metal that you have to pour into a small apparture and you can’t quite gauge how much it will hold!
This is the first time I have had a go at this craft. I have watched plenty of students have a go at different technology processes. Here is a little intro to pewter casting. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did trying this out.
Fortunately my husband has his own forge, blacksmith qualifications and so on; I had someone who knew what he was doing to guide me through the process and let me have a go.
I started off by drawing a frame around my piece of wood and then sketched out a very basic outline. I want to have another go at this, but for now, I drew out a shape of a bird and a tree. The larger part is the area that the liquid pewter is poured into.
The wood was then placed in front of a thin cutting blade. As the blade only travels in one direction, I had to shift the wood to the position I wanted. This meant not rushing it! My husband suggested drilling the ends of the branches to create holes and this allowed more maneuverability with the blade. I also worked in triangle formations; cutting small segments out of the centre before heading along the branches.
Once the shape had been carefully cut out, I sanded the cutting marks away to form a smooth edge. This was so that when the pewter ran into the grooves it wouldn’t need much filing afterwards. Then the stencil was glued to another piece of wood.
This is the bird…
and this is the tree …
A wood block was placed either side of these two pieces of wood in preparation for going in the vice.
The four pieces are clamped into a vice firmly.
Once secured in the vice with the opening part of the cut out at the top, the pewter was heated up. Very importantly, goggles and gauntlets are worn. Both my husband and I wore boots to protect our feet too.
It didn’t take long for the pewter to start looking like something out of The Terminator when it begins to slide and melt in the ladle!
Then the pewter was poured quickly but carefully into the top end of the cutout.
The pewter is left to harden for a few minutes inside the four pieces of wood and once cool, the wood is separated. It’s then possible to lift the pewter out of its ‘stencil’.
Edges can bit a bit rough, so filing is necessary to get that smooth finish. I liked the tree the way it was and didn’t even snap off the excess pewter as it was able to stand up. However, I wanted to make some sort of pendant with the bird and so this needed a bit more work.
Out came the files, hacksaw, a hammer and a drill. I drew marks for where I wanted the chain to hang and I considered attaching separate legs so that they moved!
I’ll post the finished pendant tomorrow. I’m eager to have another go at something a bit more elaborate. Meanwhile, I hope you’ve enjoyed this little pictorial introduction to pewter casting 🙂