In days gone by people made things, we made things out of what we had. Copper when we had copper and pewter when we invented pewter, some of us however never moved on and continue to make things using copper and pewter, despite it being hard or maybe because it is.
So on with the motley and on with how I made that "Raven Bowl" all the stages, all the ways, so you can make one too, or just marvel at why anyone would want to.
Here are the raw materials, Big Hammer (rubber and rounded off one end) one medium hammer and a small hammer. A few steel punches, made by shaping some plain steel rods and one proper chisel but with the end rounded off a bit so it doesn't cut right through the metal. A "sharpie" pen or rather a cheap look alike from Asda supermarket. I use a sand bag too, leather bag filled with sand, the leather was a bit out of a leather jacket bought from a charity shop, the sand, is just building sand. Not forgetting the shiny shiny disk of pewter. 300mm across and 1mm thick (or 12inches across in "english" as the chap at http://pewtersheet.co.uk/ said).. now for the hitting it with hammers!
Ok so that is one pass of the "big 'ammer"
I placed it on the sand bag revolved it as i hit it, thud thud thud. As you can see this crinkles the edge in a distressing way, but that is all part of the plan. What causes the edge to crinkle is the more central bit stretching and the edge complains by trying to curl up. There are in my experience two ways to make a bowl, one is hammer it and stretch it all or hammer it and stretch the centre and shrink the edge. Which seems impossible that metal shrinks when hit, but it can be done.
So here it is after a pass with the "big 'ammer" round the crinkles, on top of a big bit of wood as a backing. You can't see much movement but its just slightly dished now. The crinkles are forced to collapse, each time they collapse they tighten just a little and the rim shrinks. While the centre is pushed down.
Now you see more movement and more crinkles. This is after about ten passes and the pewter is getting soft. Odd metal it's mainly tin and as you work it it softens as its atoms suffer under the hammer. cCopper work hardens and needs heat treating to soften it, but pewter starts to move more the more you hit it, if left to rest it tightens up noticeably.
That's coming along nicely, after a few passes and too many hammer blows for my poor arm!
My poor aching hand! Here I have hammered the bowl using the small ball ended hammer, evening out the texture all over with many hundreds of hits, with the bowl held on the railway track so the metal is pinched between hard iron. It gives a pleasing and traditional dimpled effect all over. Ever inch is covered, every dashed inch!. This also stretches the metal deeper. A quick few passes with the "big 'ammer" also even it out so its more bowl shaped again.
Here's a secret of arcane metal working. The metal needs "backing up" If you hit it now unsupported it will dent in a most disappointing way. So it needs something yeilding but stiff behind it. Tradition dictates a fiendish mix of pitch (of balkan and expensive origin) and plaster. I can't find that anywhere round here, so I use either wet sand, sinking the bowl into a wok of damp sand, or in this case the more crisp method of moulding warmed (in the kitchen oven, but do take proper precautions, do it when the wife or significant other is out and use a very low heat) Plasticine modelling putty. I just pushed it tight over the back of the bowl, and laying it in the wok on the sand started to hammer. The two chisels are a small one for the tighter turns in the design and the bigger one for smoothly dragging along the more flowing lines. Notice also my only "proper" tool. A Repousse or chaseing hammer, posh ah! Its small and the oddly shaped handle lets my hand rest a bit, and it cost a fiver, but it's not strictly necessary. I use with when I need a lighter touch.
Here it is tuned over and refilled with plasticine. You can see the design showing from the front chiselling. I usually wash it with a pan scourer at this stage to make the raised bits stand out brighter so I can see them. Now I set to with some more punches, this time domed ones, more or less just rounded off bits of steel rod.
of antimony and copper which has the advantage of not making you dead, or at least we don't know yet (I joke, it's certified food safe). However it has one disadvantage. When I first made a pewter bowl two people saw it and commented that it was Ok for a bit of Aluminium! This caused me pain, but I had to admit it did look a bit aluminiumy. This new pewter stays shiny, bring back the lead I cried! Until I discovered a magic liquid more usually used on leaded light "came" (those lead bits between the glass in stained glass windows) to make them go black. Painted onto Pewter it sends them dark and authentic looking. I think its dilute nitric acid with a bit of copper sulphate but don't hold me to that, just go get some from a windows shop. In the pic I am painting the watery, slightly green/blue liquid on, notice a bit of sand has got involved too. This I've found helps the liquid wet the surface otherwise it sort of rolls off and goes a bit patchy. I left it in a warm place and it went dark all over.
Of course now the shed is a bit dark so I'm taking a pic in the dark of a dark thing, but you get the idea I hope
The trick is now to highlight the birdy bits without diminishing the darkness of the surrounding stuff. I did this at first using a powder called "Bar Keeps Friend" which is meant for steel and copper surfaces, its abrasive and removes the patina well when applied with a cloth covered damp finger. I wash it off rather than polish it off so its kept in its place. Then i use Brasso wadding ( a fine metal polish on sort of cotton wool wadding) that brings it up a treat.
Last stage now. I apply "renaissance wax" (as recommended and indeed invented by the British Museum) Brush it on with a soft shoe brush and polish it off with a rough cloth, there it is shiny where I wanted it shiny and dull where I wanted it dull... easy...
Warning the wife may want to know where the sand in the sink is coming from and why her baking tray has got bits of plasticine on it.