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The Times
  • Pewter casting learned at Herkimer Home

  • A newly-made pewter spoon got a close inspection from Tom Metoutan on Saturday as he looked for hairline fractures, dimples or other defects.

    He did this several times with each spoon, pointing out what may have caused the defect and how to correct it during a day class on pewter casting at Herkimer Home State Historic Site.

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  • A newly-made pewter spoon got a close inspection from Tom Metoutan on Saturday as he looked for hairline fractures, dimples or other defects.
    He did this several times with each spoon, pointing out what may have caused the defect and how to correct it during a day class on pewter casting at Herkimer Home State Historic Site.
    Several students attended the course on using the ancient technique and got to try their own hand at the craft after Metoutan demonstrated how to do it. The class also learned how to acquire needed materials for pewter casting and troubleshooting.
    At times, Metoutan discussed how 21st century techniques could simplify older techniques.
    He said, for example, one of the problems that can arise is when the temperature of the pewter is off, noting  it would be easier to control with a gas grill.
    “For a Colonial demonstration, that wouldn’t work too good,” he said.
    Instead, he placed another brick around the fire to better control the temperature.
    He also explained an old method to test the temperature of the pewter is to take a matchstick and drop it in to see how fast it would char or burn up.
    Pewter is an alloy comprised of “tin, with a little bit of copper,” said Metoutan.
    He said besides spoons and buttons, pewter mugs and bowls were also made during Colonial times.
    Pewter would have been common to use in the Colonial times, and it could also clue people in on someone’s rank in society. “It was a step up. It was a middle-class, upper-class material,” said Metoutan, noting poorer citizens would usually have wood carved items, where the extremely wealthy would have silver made products.
    Gen. Nicholas Herkimer owned pewter utensils and other items, said Metoutan. He said though Herkimer Home has no record of the general owning silver, he may have had one or two silver items.
    Herkimer Home will offer another class on an 18th century skill later this month. On Saturday, July 28, Nitza Maynard will instruct students on how to make custom-decorated straw hats. According to a press release from Herkimer Home, straw hats “were all the rage for the 18th century ladies who would not leave the house without” it.
    To register for the straw hat course, call 823-0398.
    There is a $15 fee which includes materials, drink and a snack.

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