Friday, May 25, 2012

Future Pewter Craftsmen at Royal Selangor

What is the sound of one hand clapping?* I don't know, but I can tell you what's the sound of 10 kids banging wooden mallets on metal disks. Really, really, shoulda-brought-my-earplugs LOUD. For centuries, tin was one of Malaysia's primary exports. Tin also happens to be the main component of pewter. At Royal Selangor's School of Hard Knocks, you can finally live out your lifetime dream to be a pewtersmith — like being a goldsmith or blacksmith but with pewter.

Floor-to-ceiling dislay of pewter shavings

Our visit kicked off with a short tour of the small gallery showing the history of pewter manufacturing in Malaysia. I think the kids were most interested in ringing the giant chimes made of different metals. Surprise, surprise. Loud and hands-on is what they like. The guide dipped a ladle into liquid pewter and poured it into a mold. It must have cooled quickly because she immediately popped it out and demonstrated polishing. Then, it was on to what all the kids were waiting for.

Time to hammer out their very own pewter bowls!

Tools of the trade: hammer and metal letter stamps for personalizing, bowl and wooden mallet

Each kid donned their aprons and grabbed a flat, metal disk. The first step is personalizing the bowl using the small hammer and metal letter stamps. A quick, firm tap is the key to a good imprint.

Then came the loud part. Put the metal disk on the wooden form and start banging away. Tilt the disk into the depression and rotate it evenly while hammering to get it rounded just right.

I don't want to work. I just want to bang on my bowl all day.

The top side of the wood form makes a shallow bowl. If you want a deeper one, flip the wooden block over and continue with the form on the other side.

Presto change-o! Your metal disk is now a lovely bowl. Perfect for ice cream if you ask me. Just keep it in the freezer, and it's ready to go.

It's the hard knock life for us.

It was a fun way to spend an hour, although all follow up visits to the hearing specialist is another matter. Afterwards, we all had the chance to browse the store. If you ever need a souvenir from Malaysia, Royal Selangor is a great place to go. They make a everything from jewelry to figurines to tea sets out of pewter. Some designs are a traditional nod to Malaysia's past whereas others are very modern and contemporary. Plus, and this is the best part, you don't have to worry about it breaking in your luggage no matter how badly the airlines handle it.

* If you really want to know what's the sound of one hand clapping, track down my hubby. He will demonstrate it for you.

Details, details:
Royal Selangor Visitor's Centre
Straits Quay retail marina enclave

Telephone: 04-8912018

RM 60 for the School of Hard Knocks includes personalized bowl, apron and certificate; by reservation only

Related Post:
5 Places for Kids to Ride Bikes and Scooters in Penang (includes Straits Quay)

This post is part of Friday Daydreamin' at R We There Yet Mom?


  1. What a cool experience for the kids! I love it .....despite the need for earplugs!!

    Thanks for linking up today!

    1. Adults can do it, too, so all us mommies are thinking of going back and making our own bowls.

  2. It's an age-old rule - the activity that makes the most noise is the most fun! Sounds like a fun way to make a souvenir though. Hope your ears weren't ringing for too long afterward!

    1. The lady who took our reservation told me to bring earplugs, but I thought she was joking.

  3. This looks like such fun (for the kids, not for the parents ears!) And now I'm so curious about one hand clapping...maybe you need to post a video of your husband's demonstration? ;-)


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