Pewter is a tin-based alloy used to make many items from utensils to jewellery. The use of this alloy dates back at least 2,000 years to Roman times. Pewter is cast, hammered, turned on a lathe, burnished and sometimes engraved. Pewter jewellery is popular, because it looks like silver but is easier and less costly to manufacture. Pewter has a low melting point, making it easier to mould than some metals. In fact, you can even make your own pewter jewellery at home.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Ventilation mask
- Carving tools (such as a lino cutter)
- Steel pot with pouring spout
- Heat-proof surface (such as a hot pad)
- Ribbon or chain
Cut the soapstone into slices about 2.5 cm (1 inch) thick using the hacksaw. Wear the ventilation mask to make sure you do not breathe in the soapstone powder or dust.
Carve into the soapstone, creating the design you would like your jewellery to be. You can use any variety of carving tools; a linoleum cutter works fine. Make sure you carve a raised bump in the top of the mould to ensure that your pewter will include a hole through which to thread your pewter piece onto a chain.
Melt the pewter in a steel pot on a stove burner set to medium heat. This process takes between 10 and 20 minutes. The pewter emits a burning smell as it melts, and a dull scum gathers on the top of the liquid, which is the impurities of the metal rising to the surface.
Skim the impurities from the liquid using a spoon.
Remove the steel pot from the burner and place it on a heat-proof surface, such as a hot pad.
Pour some pewter into your mould using the pouring spout on the side of your steel pot. Take care not to overfill the mould, or the pewter will overflow.
Allow the pewter to cool. Pewter begins to cool almost instantly when it hits the mould. When the pewter turns from shiny to dull, it is cooled.
Flip the mould upside down onto a heat-proof surface. The moulded pewter should fall out easily. Do not touch the pewter, because the moulded side is still extremely hot. Allow the front side of the pewter to cool completely.
Thread a ribbon or chain through the hole in the top of the pewter piece. Clasp the ribbon or chain together, and you have made your own pewter jewellery.
Tips and warnings
- Make pewter earrings and bracelets in addition to necklaces by simply substituting different jewellery elements in Step 9.
- Beware of burning yourself with pewter. If you drip pewter onto your body, quickly run ice-cold water onto the burnt body part and see a doctor.
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