If pewter has always intrigued you, don’t miss this awesome Q&A with our pewter expert, artist and author, Sandy Griffiths! Anyone can do pewter, it’s not nearly as expensive as you think, and you really only need a few basic tools and materials.
You had always been looking for something new to try until you discovered pewter… Has any new craft bug bitten, or will pewter always be your go-to?
Playing with pewter is my greatest passion, it is so much fun and you can do so much with it. I run four classes a week, which means I get to spend a lot of time with it. I do, however, dabble and experiment with many things! I love making stuff and working out how things are made. I guess you could say that functional art is what interests me. The next thing that I would love to ‘specialise’ in is hand-made, leather-bound journals.
We’ve often heard people complain that pewter is just too expensive. But is it really?
No, it is not, it is a very average priced craft. Because we quote in running metres people think of pewter costing hundreds of rands. If you work out the cost of the project you will be pleasantly surprised. A piece of pewter measuring 10 X 10 cm, will cost appoximately R15 – less than a slab of chocolate! Unlike paint, mosaics, thread and beads, pewter comes in one colour and one shape, making it very economical.
Can anyone do pewter?
If you have the desire, you can do it. Many people have taught themselves from my books. We trace the desired design onto tracing paper and then onto the pewter, so drawing skills are not required. The metal is soft, pliable and easy to mould.
What have been some of your strangest but most successful pewter combinations?
I had a student who made a BMW and a Ferrari car emblem for her wheelchair, that was fun, she also embellished her walking stick with pewter. At the moment, I am playing nicely with textured backgrounds covered with gold and copper leaf. I love colour, so I am always looking for ways to include it. Nature is something I am close to, I have a collection of beach stones, small mountain rocks and tree branches that I enjoying embellishing with pewter. My husband has recently discovered wood-turning which means I now have gorgeous little wooden bowls to adorn.
The other perception many crafters have is that pewter is a tool-heavy craft, that is, that you needs lots of materials and equipment to get going. Is this true? What are the bare essentials?
It’s not a tool heavy craft. A lot of the materials needed are household goods. The tools you need are: a set of ball tools, a paper pencil (torchon), a needle point-cutter and a cutting mat. Specialist materials include patina and beeswax. The pewter retailers will offer all sorts of goodies, many are not necessary and some are nice to aim for but are not a must.
Finally, those who follow you will know that you are super creative. Do you ever get creative funks, and, if so, how do you get out of them?
Yip, creative funks are all part of the game. Lack of time and tiredness is the big enemy to creativity. When I’m struggling, I set an appointment with myself to experiment and play with ideas. I don’t put pressure on myself to create a master piece, I just enjoy creating in the same way a child would. Children are fabulous mentors; they love all the art they produce and are never afraid. They create boldly and confidently. I also follow many creative pages on Facebook. The trick is not to follow only your specific interests, but all sorts of other art, craft and creative sites. You need to feed the creative machine with many ideas and then shake them all around.