Pewter Collaboration (Works)
A.R. Wentworths is one of the UK’s most revered and respected pewterers. This collaboration began in 2004 with several material experiments that took place in the Wentworths factory in Sheffield.
The aim was to explore a new aesthetic for pewter objects that produced uniqueness within a serially produced product. Two processes were identified – drip casting and dip casting – that resulted in unusual surface finishes. In drip-casting, molten pewter is gathered in a ladle and dripped onto a steel tool, in this case an upturned bowl form. The pewter cools and solidifies as it hits the tool. More pewter is dripped until the desired surface is covered and thickness achieved. The cast is then removed from the tool and the tool reused. As each drip of pewter fuses with the last, minute channels are created on the inside surface of the cast. These form a decorative snapshot of the production process, clearly showing the metal’s once liquid state. Christened Splash and Lava, two bowls were manufactured for several years and sold through retailers including Liberty’s and Paul Smith.
Dip-casting is a process whereby a steel tool is plunged into molten pewter and a skin of pewter forms around the tool. As opposed to objects made from pewter sheet, the distinctive characteristics of these pieces are their rough exterior surfaces, the fact that each is unique and their relatively heavy weight. Two designs were prototyped using this process, a vase where the top portion of the rough surface has been lathed away, and a spherical ring box that exploits the rock-like finish of the dip-casting. The vase was awarded Pewter Product of the Year 2005 by The Worshipful Company of Pewterers.
A third collaboration resulted in a set of pewter picnic-ware that borrows form from archetypal paper cups and plates. Although well-trodden ground as far as many designers are concerned, reproducing a form associated with one material in another can be effective if chosen carefully and manufactured to a high standard. The directness and simplicity of the originals make them ideal for showing off the properties of sheet pewter, turning the throwaway into the durable. Pewter picnic-ware was sold through Paul Smith and SCP.