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 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!