Pewtersmithing & Care
My pewter is 92% tin, 0.5% copper and 7.5% antimony, an alloy which the American Pewter Guild lables as "Fine Pewter". It is food safe, imparts no metalic taste and requires little care.
Pewter requires only hand washing and towel drying. In time it will acquire its characteristic soft grey patina. If buffed occasionally with an abrasive pad, pewter will keep its light, satin finish.
In my studio, I shape my items by
fabricating: cutting shapes from sheet pewter with a jewelers' saw and then soldering them together,
spinning: using leverage to press revolving discs of pewter against wooden molds which I've made on my lathe,
casting: pouring molten pewter (about 500 F) into vulcanized rubber molds which I've made, and
hammering: pounding sheet pewter over stakes or into a sandbag.
I solder and weld seams by using an acetylene torch.
I acid etch surfaces by soaking leaves or textured cloth in nitric acid and then carefully place those leaves or cloth on flat pewter. After etching overnight, I remove the acid-soaked items, wash the surface thoroughly and then shape and construct the piece. I often color those etched areas with colored pencil and set it with acrylic spray.