Making Pewter at Royal Selangor

Making Pewter at Royal Selangor

logo_royal_selangor

Today, with a lot of hard pounding and some creative interpretation, the boys and their friends from Four Over The Edge got to make their own pewter bowls at the Royal Selangor Visitor Center.  What an interesting adventure!

Petronas Towers built with 7,000 pewter cups.

Petronas Towers built with 7,000 pewter cups.

Royal Selangor was founded in 1885, when Kuala Lumpur was the epicenter of tin mining in the Malay Peninsula dating back to the mid 1800’s.  The name Kuala Lumpur actually means Muddy River from all the tin mining of the time.  As you probably know, tin is the main element in pewter so Kuala Lumpur was an ideal place from where Royal Selangor’s founder, Chinese pewtersmith Yong Koon, launched his company.

Today, Royal Selangor has become synonymous with high quality pewter and the company exports to countries worldwide.  Their craft has even spread into silver and jewelry.

World's Largest Pewter Beer Tankard

World’s Largest Pewter Beer Tankard

When first arriving at their showroom, the first thing I noticed was the enormous pewter beer tankard on display in front of the factory.  With a capacity of 615 gallons of beer, it was recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records in 1987 as the largest beer stein.

We then proceeded into the factory where we were given a tour of the history of pewter in Malaysia as well as the company’s milestones.

 

 

 

 

Tin Pan

Tin Pan

Before the British introduced the tin dredge, tin was mined from the bottom of the rivers much as I picture gold was mined during the gold rush, by pulling up sediment from the river floor and shaking it in shallow wooden pans.  We learned that in the early days, men were not even allowed to pan for tin as the theory was that they were not careful enough to have the job and too much would be lost.

 

Pewter was originally made with mostly tin, mixed with antimony, copper and lead.  These days, of course, lead is no longer used as it is toxic.  Please note this sign explaining the ingredients in Pewter and a few important points.  We got a kick out of number five.

Pewter is everywhere.. even at wizarding schools.  :)

Pewter is everywhere.. even at wizarding schools. 🙂

Tin animals used for money

Tin animals used for money

We walked through Royal Selangor’s showroom, seeing the early tin “money” shaped as animal figurines. Since pewter is so soft, a leg would simply be broken off in payment.  Also on display were early teapots, vases and ingots.  From there, we learned about the weights and melting points of the various melts used in pewter making and what types of finishes are good for which products.

Finally, we were taken into the factory were we got to witness the production of all sorts of pewter items, including jewelry, teapots, and even trophies.  (Did you know that the trophies for the Oscars are actually made from pewter with a 24K gold covering?)  I couldn’t resist taking this trophy photo for my brother-in-law.)

Motorcycle trophy

Motorcycle trophy

Pouring the molten pewter into molds.

Pouring the molten pewter into molds.

Some of the pewter is melted and poured into molds.  I was shocked at how it only takes a few seconds for the molten pewter poured into the molds to harden and be extracted.  We watched a lady pour the 232 degree Celsius liquid into form for what I called Money Trees.  These represent the coins as they were first used for trade.

And who says money doesn't grow on trees?

And who says money doesn’t grow on trees?

 

Hand pounding the design in a pewter cup

Hand pounding the design in a pewter cup

 

 

 

 

We then watched another lady pound a perfectly even pattern around the outside of a cup.  Then, we were given a go of it.  Our pattern, shall I say, was much more “artistic.”

Mine looked nothing like hers.

Mine looked nothing like hers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

School of Hard Knocks classroom

School of Hard Knocks classroom

P1100669Last, but not least, was the School of Hard Knocks.  The boys were given an apron and a flat piece of pewter to start. After engraving their names on the bottom, they were set loose with a mallet.

Starting with the flat sheet of pewter

Starting with the flat sheet of pewter

And, in less than 30 minutes, they actually pounded a pewter bowl with wooden hand tools much as it would have been done in the 19th century.  They turned out great.

P1100651

 

 

P1100643

 

Final bowl and his certificate

Final bowl and his certificate

Both of the boys added some of their own artistic license to the bowl.  Lorenzo added a rim, and Elio decided to give his bowl a flat bottom so it will sit without wobbling.   At the end, they were each given an “original” certificate to accompany their bowls.

Elio's bowl. All by himself, he decided to add the flat bottom so it doesn't wobble.

El’s bowl. All by himself, he decided to add the flat bottom so it doesn’t wobble.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was a fantastic morning and the boys all learned an awful lot.  Plus, they are the proud owners of two of the greatest souvenirs from our trip!

 

6 thoughts on “Making Pewter at Royal Selangor

  1. Kris Preslan

    WOW! What fantastic souvenirs! And how much you guys all learned there! And what fun too. These are things you can’t learn in a classroom, and so much more fun too.
    I wish someone would take ME around the world with this kind of planning.
    Im very happy to see and hear about this on your blog.
    Omi

    1. Kathrin Post author

      Alana – Thanks, and thanks for being a huge part of the fun. I’m just mad I didn’t get a photo of all four boys holding their masterpieces! Keep in touch.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *