No doubt, I have one of the coolest jobs in the world. Besides getting to play with all these great tools, diamonds, gemstones, gold, platinum and on and on...I get to work with some of the most talented craftsman around. A couple of weeks ago I had the privilege of having one of Americas few remaining, but highly skilled metal spinners visit my workshop and give me lessons in metal spinning.
Back-story: Last year I purchased a complete work cell of a metal spinning lathe and the mandrels (forms) and tools from two prominent metal spinning companies. These tools were used to make hollow ware from various metals but most commonly in pewter. After I got these tools home I thought I could read some tutorial pamphlets and watch some youtube videos and get to work. Wrong! Mostly, I just wasted a big pile of very expensive metal.
Stymied, I did what I always do in such circumstances; I found an expert! My search quickly led me to Paul Wiley. Not only had Paul authored a great book on the subject titled "The Art of Metal Spinning: A Step-By-Step Guide to Hand-Spinning", he is recognized as a prominent authority on the subject. Paul also has a very interesting website, Restoration Metal Spinning, where you can see some of his work. Pay special attention to the finials! In any case you can take my word for it, he is The Expert! I called Paul and we arranged for him to visit my workshop and spend a weekend with me sorting out the tools, materials and to teach me to spin. It was brilliant! Paul guided me through the steps and processes and taught me to spin pewter and aluminum circles into a variety of simple and complex shapes.
Did you know? Before the availability of large scale industrial power that metal spinners were an indispensable part of every community, making our pots, pans, hollow ware and storage vessels!