ANST - Re: Pewter/tin

Mark.S Harris rsve60 at
Mon May 22 09:38:40 PDT 2000

gunnora at wrote:
> Stafan li Rous also suggested:
> >If you are using soapstone to carve the molds for your
> >casting...
> There are a variety of period mold materials as well.  I think Stefan had tried
> some casting into hardwood (yes?  how well did this work?) and I know for a
> fact that the Vikings cast into antler.

I have used only soapstone so far. I do have some cuttlefish bone but I
tried it yet. Most of the casting I've done has been for site tokens and
and the quantities run from 100 to 300 pieces. While I've not had
trouble with
soapstone lasting through this many pours, I doubt that the cuttlefish
last over a dozen, if that. I would have thought that bone and antler
also suffer the same way.
> I've done a little silver casting into antler molds.  You want the hard, solid
> part of the antler, not the spongy inner sections, of course.  The antler should
> be fairly fresh, i.e., not dried up, cracked and powdery due to long exposure
> to the elements.

> Of course, you get a "burning hair" smell from the antler when you pour the
> hot metal.  But I've found that the mold survives quite well and can be reused
> several times.

Thanks for this info on casting in bone. Apparently my assumptions about
durability were wrong. This is exactly why I like the hands-on
archeology aspect
of many of the SCA crafts. Someday I'll have to stop the work on the
so I have more time for such things.

> There is also a location out near Fredricksburg where a farmer has a whole field
> full of soapstone.  The last time Damaris and I checked, they'd put up a *good*
> fence, so just crawling through the wires and grabbing some was Right Out.
> Tall Brian and I had been discussing going out and asking the farmer politely
> if we might carry off some of the stone from his field later this summer.  Damaris
> has directions to the spot, and if folks are interested perhaps we could do
> some research and contact the farmer in question.

I would definitely be interested in this. My local source for soapstone,
Jewelry, no longer carries soapstone and the last time I bought from
them it
cost me $3 or $4 per pound. I've thought of trying to contact the
landowner of
this train wreak soapstone, but didn't know precisely where it was, much
know how to locate the landowner. If I know something is going to happen
this, I won't place a mail order for more soapstone. After my Gulf Wars
I only have enough stone for another small class, though. 

Those who are interested in soapstone casting but who can't catch a
locally might keep this in mind if you are going to Gulf Wars. I've
my class there for most Gulf Wars. I might have to start limiting the
or teach two classes though. Year before last (the one with the "small"
rainstorm) I had 25 people. This last year I had 34. I've had lords take
the class a second time and bring their ladies with them the second
Several of my students have far surpassed my abilities but that just
that anyone can do this and enjoy this craft. Want period buttons or
Or a belt end with your device on it? Come learn to make the "costume"
of the Middle Ages.
> I'm still out of town due to my mom's death, but as many of you know Damaris
> and I just bought a small farm a little east of Austin.  One of the things I've
> been wanting to do as we get settled in is to have some arts workshop weekends
> out there  casting and antler carving/comb making being some of the things we
> could accomodate.

This sounds wonderful. How about some of the other dirty or smelly A&S
dyeing? or leather tanning? Maybe some blacksmithing or glasswork?
want to re-create a medieval beehive(?) oven? charcoal making?

There are files on most of these, and more, in the CRAFTS section of my
Florilegium files.

> I don't have a shop set up out there yet, but I have acres and acres of room
> to work in.  Pewter casting is one of the things we could probably do now, if
> I can persuade Damaris to let me borrow her gas cooking ring.  Or we can set
> up to use hardwood charcoal.

I now have a better ladle for casting over charcoal and there is always
electric pot I use for casting at home and at classes. You have

> Stefan, Polydore, those of you who are working with pewter casting, or who want
> to learn it, be thinking about this.  In a couple of weeks it will be too beastly
> for outdoor events, so we could have some weekends where we can work on this
> type of thing... i.e., slave over hot metal a bit, fall into the swimming pool
> and cool off for a bit, etc.  Perhaps we can pick a weekend to try some of this,
> after we've gotten an answer back on the SCA-Laurels List and gotten some raw
> materials to work with.
> I'd like to host more arts days -- aside from being part of the job of a Laurel,
> I enjoy having artisans around working on projects.  One of the best we've had
> was when a bunch of us were making antler combs, and Master Cedric and his friend
> Hawk came and provided live Celtic music while we worked.  That kind of synergy
> is great and not everybody needs to be working on the same arts (i.e., other
> artists will be welcome).
> So, if you have something that you'd like to learn that I might could teach
> or arrange to have taught, and a 30 minute drive east of Austin is a possibility
> for you, let me know and we'll see about starting some arts days.

This sounds wonderful, Gunnora.

I've taken the liberty of copying this over to the bryn-gwlad list also,
I think folks there may be interested.

Stefan li Rous
stefan at
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