Handcrafted Pewter

Written by Beth Hrusch
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The look and feel of handcrafted pewter sets it apart from anything mass-produced, and make it a truly unique addition to any decor. When looking for quality home accessories with the charm and beauty of the Old World, pewter is a natural choice. It also makes a memorable gift, and can start a collection that will bring pleasure to its owner for years to come. Well-suited to both utilitarian and decorative use, pewter is a time-honored metal still worked using traditional methods.

Methods of Making Handcrafted Pewter

Pewter has been in circulation for thousands of years. By composition, it is a metal alloy comprised of at least 90 percent tin, with small amounts of copper and antimony added to make it strong. Old pewter formulations contained high percentages of lead, making it unsafe to use for holding edibles. Today's pewter is required to be lead-free for safety reasons.

There are two basic methods of making handcrafted pewter. These are traditional methods that have been in use for centuries. Spinning takes a flat disk of pewter and shapes it into a form. The pewter is clamped into a lathe and hand tools are used to put pressure on the metal until it conforms to the desired shape. The pewtersmith then smooths the surface to remove any tool marks. The other common method is casting. Pewter is melted down to a liquid and poured into molds made of rubber, wax or plaster. After a rapid cooling, the pewter hardens and is ready to be polished.

Pieces that require assembly, such as items that have handles or bases, are soldered together with a jeweler's torch. This gives the handcrafted pewter piece a fine, seamless finish. Each piece is then polished to either a satin or bright finish. Using traditional methods of crafting pewter ensures that no two pieces will be exactly alike, lending unique charm to your collection.


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