Sandy Litchfield’s recent application to join the Association of British Pewter Craftsmen was accepted at the last council meeting. We asked her about her interest in pewter:
What is your first recollection of pewter?
Going to house sales with my father; he was an auctioneer and valuer, and held regular auctions.
Where did you learn about how to use pewter?
In 2010, when I was in my final year of the BA Applied Arts degree at Plymouth Art College. I wanted to use a new metal and was attracted to the lead-free pewter of modern times. I was not popular in the workshop at college as the machines were used for copper, silver and gold, and I kept clogging up the grinding machines etc. So I set up at home in my workshop/summerhouse. There I was able to experiment with all the techniques I needs.
What methods do you use (spinning, casting etc)?
I started with traditional raising and sinking, then decided I needed to add colour to my pieces. As I am an Associate Craftsman of the Guild of Enamellers, and a keen enameller, enamel was the obvious choice. However the temperatures used for enamelling, about 850-950 degrees centigrade are too high for pewter, so I enamelled on copper and soldered the pieces into position using the cast pieces of pewter.
What inspires your designs? Where did the idea for your work come from?
To get interesting shapes of pewter I cast over reeds from the garden and other vegetation from the garden. Woody herbs are particularly good for this. When cool and unravelled, the shapes were particularly pleasing and gave me the textures I required.
My interest in geology, especially along the South Devon coast where we live, was my inspiration, and the colours, textures and shapes were challenging to achieve, especially in a soft metal like pewter.
I have also extended my techniques to include engraving and etching and this allows me to develop new designs. Entering Pewter Live in 2012 I chose the National Trust House, Saltram House in Plymouth as my inspiration. The flora and fauna were ideal to engrave on traditional vessels. They are now stocked in their gallery.
What is your market?
My work is marketed as “heirlooms of the future” and is aimed at that special present for weddings, engagements, christenings and that one-off present for someone special.
Designing for boys’ christening presents led me to making engraved board games, chess, draughts, tic-tac-toe etc and using cast shell pieces or enamelled pennies for counters.
I am a member of the South Hams forum which is a group of some 85 artists and we exhibit regularly at local galleries and other venues. I am delighted to be a member of the ABPC and hope to be so for many years to come.