About Colin Hamer Pewter
I am a metallurgical engineer, scientist and pewtersmith. I learned my craft from Doug Shenstone, who was one of Canada's first master pewtersmiths. While working as a metallurgist, I always had hobbies during my spare time - from candle-making to oil painting. One day I visited Doug's workshop to buy a pair of wine goblets and before I left his place, I had convinced him to take me on as a student. I have been pewtering since 1976. For many years, until my retirement in 1995 from Natural Resources Canada, pewtersmithing was my avocation. Since retirement it has been my profession.
What is a Pewtersmith?
I am one of the few Canadian pewtersmiths. A pewtersmith is a craftsperson who can form and shape a sheet of pewter by hand using hammers and stakes. Spinning and shaping pewter discs against forms on a lathe is often part of the process. Then, I weld spun shapes together, and these simple shapes are combined to make more complex shapes such as tea pots, jugs, candle holders and oil lamps. I produce some parts like handles, stems and hinges by casting. This involves melting the pewter and pouring it into silicone or vulcanized rubber moulds.
What is Pewter Made of?
Pewter is an alloy principally composed of tin, with the rest being antimony and copper. The alloy I use is 92% tin, 7% antimony and 1% copper. Hundreds of years ago, pewter contained lead, but modern pewter contains no lead and is safe to use for food and drink.
My designs range from classical, traditional pieces, as well as modern - and at times, downright weird - designs. I also like to incorporate etching, welding, exotic woods and stained glass in some of my pieces. There are over one hundred pieces in my catalogue, many of which are shown on this site.
My work is identified by my touchmark, which is a distinctive design on the bottom of my work. It incorporates my initials "CAH", with a crossed mallet and gad with the the word PEWTER underneath. As my work goes all over the world, I stamp CANADA as the country of origin. The crossed mallet and gad was the guild symbol of the miners and smelters dating from the 13th century, and still used by present-day miners and metalurgists. These tools are similar in appearance to the hammers used in pewtersmithing.