How to : Pewter bashing at Manchester Craft Centre

Pewter vases and tin snips

I had the most brilliant Saturday at Manchester Craft Centre last weekend, learning how to work with and craft pewter with metal work expert and This Is Pewter founder Ella McIntosh.  Our day started at 10am and we didn’t stop playing and learning til gone 4, fuelled by Ella’s bubbly enthusiasm, a delicious lunchtime pizza & strawberry chocolate cookies 🙂

Our aim was to create some beautiful shiny pewter vases like the ones above and at 10am I had absolutely no idea how to go about starting this, even though I spend my life doing crafty projects, skilled metal work was a first for me. Most of the other women were in the same boat, with just one silver-smither a bit clued up as to techniques. We all started off with shiny, flat cuts and Ella guided us through the basics of imprinting pattern and texture onto the metal, all very hands on and D-I-Y. We looked for inspiration in the piles of materials on the central table, out in the Craft Centre and even out on the street. I loved the way Ella let us find our own way and didn’t tell us what would and wouldn’t work, but let us make our own mistakes and have our own creative triumphs. I wanted a very organic, lacy pattern on my vase, other people experimented with sequins and stamps.

Pewter and lace image
Imprinting pewter with patternOutside I found some poppy heads which I thought would be perfect to pop through the roller and imprint this rather gorgeous pattern into my pewter:
Poppy seed headsPewter sheet, lace and poppy seedsUm, well, perfect except for the fact they were too delicate and got completely crushed. Same happened with my wire wrapped round & round , as it went through the rollers, it chopped my first piece in half! Everyone else was way ahead of me at this point, as I went back to the drawing board and traced round the poppy heads on sandpaper, which gives an almost sand-blasted effect when squeezed through tightly on top of the metal. Lesson learned!
Pewter being imprinted with pattern through a rollerOnce everyone was happy with their rollered patterns, it was time for a bit of typography and stamping letters into the soft metal. Please ignore the fact I spelled Moregeous wrongly in my rush to catch up #doh

There’s me, trusty camera & iPhone ever to hand 😉

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I stamped round the little butterflies and poppy heads imprinted on my pewter until I was happy with the finished pattern:
Stamping pewter with letters and numbersFinally we were ready to roll! Pewter is so soft that you simply curl it by hand around metal tubes to get the desired shape, then hammer the edges to get them overlapping closely before soldering. Using the soldering gun, flux and small pieces of cut pewter was fun but you had to be really careful as it melts very easily. Luckily I’d already had my mini disaster plus have soldered before so this bit went ok for my little vase! Genuinely puffed up with pride when Ella said it was very neat 🙂
Learning how to work with pewter. Craft course at Manchester Craft Centre on pewter skillsTime for a perfect bottom to our vases, with Ella showing us how to sit the tubes on another flat piece of metal, file them down, then carefully solder all the way around, trim using tin snips, file again then polish – honestly, there was some serious work involved!2013-07-24_0009After all that learning, sweating, rolling, stamping, filing and polishing, I was absolutely delighted with my mini vase, designating it Chief Pencil Holder in the Moregeous office 🙂Pewter vase made in Manchester Craft Centre by MoregeousPlus we all had time for a little play at the end of the day, making name cards (I made one for my niece), earrings, brooches and cufflinks (21st pressie for stepson later this year). All in all a fabulous day with a fun group of like minded creatives and a very very talented tutor & hostess in Ella – a Moregeous 10 / 10 🙂2013-07-24_0012If you fancy going on one of the fabulous workshops hosted by Manchester Craft Centre, click HERE

To find out more about Ella and This Is Pewter (please do visit & buy to support British talent!), click HERE

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