Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Casting Pewter Spoons: Part I

Our blacksmith shop does some metalwork beyond just forging iron.  One recent project is the casting of pewter spoons using bronze molds.  We are fortunate to have both original and reproduction spoons molds.  These are bronze two part molds.  A clamped mold is in use on the left, and an open mold is lying to the right in this photo.
Pewter is a low temperature alloy of tin.  We use modern, lead-free pewter.  It is melted in a steel ladle over the fire in the coal forge. 
The halves are clamped together.  Then molten pewter is poured into the mold.  When the mold has chilled it is opened to reveal the spoon.

Not every pour results in a perfect spoon.  Skill and knowledge play a part in successful casting.  The metal must be at the right temperature and free of dross.  The pour needs to be smooth and uninterrupted.  If the mold is not clamped tightly it leaks molten metal!  These can all lead to an incomplete spoon.  Sometimes the failures become interesting sculptures!

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