Sunday, April 05, 2009

Pewter for the kitchen as seen on Paula Deen and Oprah

Who says common, everyday kitchen tools can't also be beautiful?

We've represented the work of Jim and Deborah Chapman for 15 years in our gallery and just lately their work has gotten the attention of the media.

I'd like to tell you a little bit about them and their work.

Tin Woodsman Pewter was born in 1985, when Jim and Deborah's closest friends decided to shut down their pewter studio to pursue other interests. Deborah leapt at the idea of learning pewtersmithing from them and turning their business into a hobby of her own. Within three years, it was obvious that Deborah's "hobby" was taking over the Chapman home. In time, the family became full-time pewtersmiths.

In true renaissance fashion, Jim and Deborah have brought diverse backgrounds to the company that has inspired their lives and influenced their designs. Deborah holds a masters' degree in French Literature from The University of Oregon and Jim graduated from Notre Dame University's Great Books Program. Deborah studied abroad in Belgium, Turkey, and France. Jim volunteered for the Peace Corps in western Africa and worked for three years in Venice, Italy as a writer, translator, and guide.

Creating pewter products together has been a natural extension of their individual artistic explorations - Deborah in ceramics and costume design, and Jim in woodworking and bookmaking. Both have been able to meld their knowledge and experiences into the pieces they produce - one reason why the designs are so unique.

Over twenty years later, Jim and Deborah feel blessed to work together in such a satisfying venture that allows them to express their creativity. Even their children have been involved, with the youngest declaring (at age six) that she would be the future "boss.

A new piece of Tin Woodsman Pewter is created using a number of different artisanal techniques. An original design is crafted by hammering, cutting, bending, shaping, welding, and carving. The original is then baked in a pressurized rubber mold. Once it has cooled, channels are cut into the mold.

A ladle of molten pewter (at a temperature of 450 degrees Fahrenheit) is poured into the mold while it is spun at high speed in a centrifugal casting machine.

After a short cooling period, the newly cast piece is removed and sanded. The piece is then darkened to highlight the design details and polished to create the unique tone of pewter that collectors love.

Some of the questions we get asked the most:

What is pewter? Pewter is a white metal alloy consisting principally of tin, with small amounts of antimony and copper.

Is there lead in pewter?
Early pewter did contain lead, but all of the pewter products we carry at Carolina Creations are LEAD-FREE, as required by the U.S. government.

Does pewter tarnish?
No. However, over time it will patina, or darken in color. This unique aging is what endears many people to pewter. Its original luster may be preserved with the finest steel wool (0000) and a gritty toothpaste.

Why is pewter so cherished?
There is something incredibly special about a metal that has been in constant use by countless civilizations (including the ancient Chinese and Egyptians) for the past 2000 years. In 18th century America, pewter tankards, plates, and other serving ware were a vital part of most households and taverns.

Are Tin Woodsman measuring pieces designed to be used?
Both the spoons and cups are designed to be used! They are accurate for both liquids and solids. However, cooks and bakers should restrict their usage to scooping and measuring and never use them over any type of heat source.

Can pewter be put in the dishwasher?
Our pewter is dishwasher safe. However, there are new detergents and rinsing agents on the market which can alter the finish of the pieces. For those who wish their pieces to retain their original luster, they may choose to wash their spoons and cups by hand.

Want to see more? Click on this link.

Bon Appetit!!

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