Time-Honored Tradition




Jon Gibson learned his craft at his father's knee. And not much has changed about the pewtering process since Raymond Gibson opened Gibson Pewter in 1966 in Hillsborough Center.

Continuing the craft alone, son Jon turns out traditional pieces like spoons, tankards and cups, plus traditionally inspired creamers, sugar bowls, tea sets and contemporary pieces of his own design -- in all, more than 100 items, with most designed for use at the table.

The creamer shown here is a mix of processes that are time-honored skills. Gibson starts with a pewter disk that is spun on a lathe. Unlike wood that is peeled away, the pewter yields to a metal tool and is shaped almost as fluidly as a pot thrown on a wheel. The handle and spout are cast in a bronze mold and then soldered to the body. The beaded edges are pressed in with a knurling tool, just as famed 18th-century pewterer William Will of Philadelphia would have done in 1780. Both pieces shown here are studied renditions of Will's work.

Pewter is a mixture of metals, mostly tin, with small amounts of copper and antimony. Lead has not been in the pewtering process since 1850, so pewter ware is safe for serving food. The surface only needs a light polish once a year, claims Gibson, and occasionally buffing.

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