Pewter, an alloy used for making jewellery, tableware, sculptures and small decorative items, is typically made from tin and copper, although variations of this are also common. There are a variety of methods used to cast pewter, from those used hundreds of years ago to more modern techniques. Whatever the method, casting pewter generally involves creating a mould and melting the alloy into it for casting.
Cuttlefish mould casting
Cuddlefish bone, which is the internal shell of a sea mollusc, can be found at the beach or at jewellery or pet stores. It is often used as a mould for casting pewter. Since the bone is soft, it is not difficult to carve a mould, or negative space, into it. Because it is soft yet durable, cuttlefish moulds can also be made by pressing an object into the surface to create an impression. Pewter casters use the cuttlefish method when producing a limited quantity of pewter objects, as the hot pewter burns away the bone after a few pours. Those who wish to mould a highly detailed pewter object should not use this method.
Soapstone mould casting
Another pewter casting method is to use a soapstone mould. Soapstone is commonly used in casting pewter because it is uniform in hardness and provides an easy carving ability. Because of its hardness, soapstone moulds can be used many times to cast identical objects; however, this also means that soapstone moulds cannot be pressed; they must be carved. Soapstone casting requires heavier equipment and carving tools (like saws), because of its density.
Spin casting is a method used to produce bowls, plates and other spherical objects by pouring lower-temperature pewter into a spinning rubber or silicone mould. The temperature of the alloy must remain lower than in other casting methods as to not deteriorate the mould. This method requires a spin caster, which spins the mould in place as the casting pewter is poured in. The spin casting method for pewter is used in large, industrial-scale projects as well as for smaller, artistic projects.