Metal Storm Shop Tour


The artist puts the final touches on a master pattern in preparation for the mould making process.

A cured mould is cut with channels for the casting process.

Molten pewter is poured into a centrifugal casting machine at c. 400 degrees Celsius.

At present I have my own workshop/studio in the hundred of St. Briavels, Forest of Dean, England. My home and studio are in a beautiful listed setting which dates back to the 12th Century and is linked to Edward I. A lake full of enormous leaping carp and the forest provide the backdrop for this synopsis of the creative processes involved in my metalwork.

 

Pattern Making

Every design is born like this. A hand made "Master Pattern" is lovingly carved from a piece of high grade pewter. the process can take many hours depending on the complexity of the design in question.

Most of the masters for the animals in the collection took 20 to 24 hours each of precise cutting, filing and smoothing. Some take longer, the Great Dane for example, to in excess of 40 hours to make with it's wonderful musculature and facial expression.

 

Mould Making

The pewter masters provide a "hard" pattern from which I make organic and silicone rubber moulds. Moulds from silicone can withstand repeated injections of molten production grade pewter yielding exceptionally accurate copies. Only lead free alloys are used in the production process. The moulds are cooked or "Vulcanised" at high temperatures and pressures with a selection of master patterns embedded.

Any patterns not made from metal or ceramic would be destroyed by the vulcanisation process, hence the need for hard metal masters. When the moulds are fully cured they are skillfully cut whilst hot with a surgical blade to provide channels and vents in which the molten metal can flow, filling the cavities left by the now removed patterns.

 

Casting

Cured, hardened 9 and 12 inch circular, silicone rubber moulds fit neatly into the centrifugal casting machine used for replication. The mould halves are clamped together and spun at speeds between 300 and 500 rpm.

A single ladle full of molten pewter at c. 400 degrees Celsius is poured into the central well of the spinning mould allowing centrifugal force to fill the cavities within. Several brooches or pendants can be produced in this way. Once cooled the castings are cleaned and prepared for finishing.

 

Finishing

The raw castings require dipping in nitric acid to prevent oxidisation and then polishing for a lasting reflective and bright finish. This finish negates the necessity for any electro-plating or other highly polluting processes often associated with pewter .

Polishing is achieved either by hand or by tumbling with steel shot and water with a soap added. The final stage involves the fitting of findings (pins/rings) for attachment to clothing or chain. Once complete the items are mounted on a velveteen pad and put in a protective sealed bag. Where applicable a small card of wise words is placed with the product.

 

I hope you enjoyed the above description of the processes involved in the work you see on this site. Perhaps it will help you to see these items in a greater light.

Marek.