Pewter – The Basic Process

The basic process of creating a piece of pewter work is a very simple and quick one. Below is a simple overview of this process.

We have taken a photocopy of a Modigliani picture and from this traced drawing (a 2D-design) we will create a 3D antique metal decoration to be attached to the front of an art sketch book.

After tracing the design onto the pewter, we begin to work the design by raising, texturing and defining areas with various tools. We push out from the back and counter act the stretching process by neatening and flattening the surrounded raised areas from the front, until we are satisfied with the detail and the height of the raised areas.

The design is worked using an array of various techniques. This process of working the metal to create your finished piece is a therapeutic journey controlled dramatically by personality, time constraints and artistic ability. No two pieces are ever identical and therefore a ‘one of a kind’ piece of art is created. The design is interpreted by the creator and by the intention of the use of the finished piece.

Once the design has been worked on sufficiently and you are happy with the completed work the back concaved areas are filled with warm wax to hold the shape.

Patina is applied to the front. The pewter will instantly go dark (almost black). Polish is applied and the metal is polished to your satisfaction emphasizing raised areas and leaving convex areas dark, to create more depth and contrast.

When the polishing process is complete and the pewter has been buffed with a clean soft cloth varnish is applied to protect the shine. The completed work is glued onto the sketchbook.

 DONE! easy as that.


Pewter Book Covers

A book with a beautiful personalised pewter cover has to be one of the most special gifts. We spend many hours in the studio designing book covers for clients.
Here are a few examples of bookcovers we have created in the studio.
This is my handbag book. I never go anywhere without this book, not because I need the information inside it BUT simply to write information in it because I have a memory like a sieve and I fear not being able to remember things. This little book has helped me out more times than I can remember. It is filled with the most valuable, sometimes hysterical, information which includes figures, facts, colours, measurements, book titles and any other arbitory wording, that when written seems to be of utmost importance to me right there and then. This little book makes for some fun reading and memory revival on long distance travelling when I am a bored passenger, (possibly the only time in my life that I have the luxury of sitting idle!)
My recipe book! I love this book, filled with my entire life as well as recipes of course! It is a huge thick leatherbound precious book. The right hand pages are filled with my glorious tried and tested recipes, (I am an avid cook and love food, food and food.) The left hand pages are filled with my written life, almost like a journal but more random info, facts, stories and bits of painting, sketching and design work. The cover is a pewter interpretation of Cerridwen the welsh goddess of Inspiration and creativity. She brewed a broth for one year and a day which produces three drops of inspiration.
Simone’s dad’s recipe book, the overall layout and design just worked so nicely.
I did a series of these lovely little notebooks some time back. The blocked design was done seperately and then backed with firm board, edges folded over and then glued onto the pewter cover of the book. The wording was engraved into the pewter as well as the fine lined designs on either side of the wording.

Cats – Pewter & Real

This pewter lion was part of a framed Big 5 work which I did a couple of years back. My intention was to give the lion a realistic look. The texture on the background to the left is the leather look embossing plate in the Fiscar’s range. I decided to put this photo on the blog after I had taken the photo below of our little black Panther, (well, that’s what she thinks she is!)

I tried to grab an hour of quiet time after a hectic day with the intentions of working on a little pewter face in front of TV. My work surface is a cushioned melamine TV tray, the left half is my hard surface and the right half my soft (felt) surface. I had just gathered myself and picked up the first tool to start working when Bizkit the cat quietly climbed up onto the tray. She pawed each tool in turn until all the tools where on the floor besides the one in my hand. She then curled up on the piece of felt and started purring with delight at her comfortable space. I worked for 10 minutes using Bizkit’s back as the soft surface to stretch my pewter and then neatened from the front on the melamine hard surface. The work deteriorated at a rapid rate and I gave up, not before I took the pic with my phone!

Pewter Coasters

Hearts, hearts and more hearts. The theme I chose for this great set of coasters.

There is nothing nicer than sitting around a pub and having an unusual coaster to put your drink onto. Being able to create a practical and personalized set of coasters from pewter sheet makes for such a stunning gift. The pewter work is done in low relief, so as not to create bumps or lumps for your glass to sit comfortably. Themes could include drink names, family names, logos etc.

Our set of 6 coasters come in a matching wooden stand beautifully factory sprayed in an almost black lacquer. The round indent can be done with a pewter inlay or the entire top can be covered with pewter as done in our example here. This is a stunning project to do for a guys 21st, 30th, 40th, Fathers day etc.

Creating Pewter work for Large Orders

I have just returned home from a very productive and fun, full day beginner workshop at the studio. The photo above of some of the students first works all on a board together made me think of large orders that we do from time to time in the studio and how we work them in batches. Which in turn gave me the idea of a post on large orders.
It can be quite a daunting feeling when asked to produce a 100 wine labels or 50 jewellery boxes or whatever quantity of a completely hand made product. It is not generally the problem of working out what to charge but rather working out exactly how long it is going to take to complete the order and whether you have the time and or energy to complete so much work in the time schedule specified. Never forgetting that you do in fact only have two hands to do the work and bearing in mind that we pride ourselves in hand made individual items and do not create machine pressed work with a factory finish. Below are some sample pics of the larger orders that we at Mimmic are often faced with.
John and Simone’s wedding in October 2010. Michelle and I created a design which we produced in Pewter as wine labels for the male guests and trinket boxes with a pewter lid with each lady guest’s name worked on the top. The wedding was held at a game lodge near Bela Bela and the guests spent the night at the lodge. The wine and trinket box was placed on the pillows in each guest’s room for them on their return from the reception. The gifts were the talking point of conversation the next morning at breakfast.

Pewter Filigree Work For Trays & The Use Of Liquid Glass

I receive many enquiries on how to use liquid glass, resin or Pratliglo (a name brand) to finish off trays that have been pewtered. This post is specifically for the lady who emailed us last week enquiring about the Pratliglo and for my Thursday students who are all busy making trays. Here are a couple of tips and thought processes to help you through this somewhat daunting process. 

Filigree work also known as lacework is a perfect way of creating pewter  for a tray. It allows the wood to show through the design and creates a tray cloth effect. There are a couple of important tips to create a fail proof project.
  1. Only create LOW RELIEF work. If you do high relief work you have to use an enormous amount of liquid glass to cover all the raised work which will make your tray expensive and very heavy!
  2. Use our cutting tool (on a cutting mat) to cut out the negative areas where you cannot get scissors in to do the job, the cutting tool helps to create a smoother edge better than that of a craft knife.
  3. Make sure your work is properly polished and remove any ugly marks, neaten all edges, be precise and very neat as the liquid glass acts as a magnifier and emphasizes every tiny imperfection!
Your pewter work does not have to be sprayed as it is sealed with the liquid glass. Glue the pewter down very well with an overall thin layer of glue, this is very important as the liquid glass will run under the pewter and lift it and / or air will be trapped under the pewter which will then escape in the form of little bubbles later when you have covered your work and left it to set, these bubbles are so annoying because you will only detect them when it is too late to remove them and they will remain as a reminder that you should have glued your work down better!
This tray which Michelle did was not cut out to create a filigree pewter piece. Instead, Michelle applied her patina, polished her work to create a beautiful shiny background and then re-applied patina with a paint brush to the design creating a stunning contrast between dark and light.
Pratliglo is the liquid glass product which we sell in the studio. It is a very simple but very precise process used to apply the product. Follow the instruction very carefully. I have a couple of important tips that will definitely help you through some issues you may have when working with it.
1.       Never work with it when there is moisture in the air (when it is raining.) It will not set!
2.       Equal quantities is imperative for the resin to set.
3.       The two bottles of mixtures have to be thoroughly mixed; a missed speck of unmixed liquid on the side of the cup could cause the mixture not to set properly.
4.       One box is sufficient for our long cocktail tray and two boxes is needed for the large square tray.
5.       The ‘huffing’ not blowing motion over the poured resin is an extraordinary and fun process, the CO2 in your breath miraculously make the millions of bubbles disappear and leaves a beautiful clear glass effect.
6.       Don’t forget to cover the tray properly, a hair or ant stuck in your glass finish won’t be great!