There was a lot to catch up with at our March meeting: our first meeting of 2014. January is our rest month and the February meeting had to be abandoned due to atrocious weather. So, once the business part of our gathering had been efficiently handled, we drew our chairs closer to our speaker, Gwen Winterton, and to the table where she had spread her treasures.
We listened with great interest as Gwen talked us through the art of working with sheet pewter. Made using 94% tin, 4% antimony and 1%copper, pewter has a low melting point so is easily worked with, yet just as easily spoiled. Patience and care would seem to be useful ingredients for producing items such as photo frames, pin cushion holders, plant pot holders, jewellery boxes, plates, cuff links, pendants and firescreens : all of which were displayed for us to see. Artistic talent is not necessarily a must, as designs and patterns can be traced and used, giving hope to those of us less skilled in drawing . Sheet pewter needs to be mounted onto something firm like wood or metal using an overlap to finish an edge. Gwen's tools included a wooden stylus with sharp point, a gadget her grandmother had used for leather work, tiny scissors, Evo Stik, clear lacquer, sandpaper and a very light hammer.
Gwen had got interested in working with sheet pewter whilst a member of a W.I. in Staffordshire and had attended a course at the local agricultural college in 1976. The timing meant that within a year she was able to make a Jubilee plate, to celebrate the Queen's twenty five years as the monarch. A very impressive piece was the Welsh dragon displayed on the firescreen which had needed to be made in two halves. Honestly, you couldn't see the join ! Even more impressive was the delicate intricate designs on tiny cuff links.
Pewter historically was the poorer man's gold and silver, as it was more readily available and suited craftspeople working at home. Gwen told us that back in the '70s sheet pewter 12 " wide would cost £3 a square foot. Now 19.7cm x 30cm would cost £13.27 with a further £20 for special packing, as the alloy is so easily dented.
Next month we have Karen Jones coming to demonstrate and talk about " painting furniture and finishing touches ". That'll be on Wednesday April 9th at 7.30pm in Saltmarshe Village Hall. You'd be very welcome to join us.