A R Wentworth (Sheffield) Ltd
Date Made/Found: around 2000
Material and Medium: pewter
Dimensions: Overall: 330 x 138 x 78mm (13 x 5 7/16 x 3 1/16in.)
Department: Decorative Art
Accession Number: 2007.108
This pewter vase was designed by Catherine Tutt and is made by A R Wentworth (Sheffield) Ltd. Reflecting the shape of the object, it is named Twist Vase. The vase is available in three sizes.
The object was first created for the Pewter Live design competition in 1996. Catherine Tutt won a prize for her design, which she submitted while a student at Buckinghamshire College. The Twist Vase has since become a commercial success for Wentworth's and has been described as their "iconic signature piece".
Wentworth's is a supporter of the Pewter Live event, which is organised by The Worshipful Company of Pewterers. The annual competition is open to students in their second year of study and was established to encourage new design talent.
Modern pewter is an alloy consisting mostly of tin. The highest quality pewter contains up to 95% tin. Other metals (antimony, bismuth and copper) are added in small amounts to give the alloy hardness and strength. Historically, cheaper pewter wares could also contain lead.
Many different processes and techniques can be used to create and decorate pewter objects. It can be cast, spun, pressed, rolled or shaped by hand. The surface of pewter objects can be embellished though engraving, etching, polishing or hammering.
Casting is the oldest and perhaps most common method of forming objects from pewter. It is a particularly effective technique for pewter as it has a very low melting temperature of 232°C. Pewter can also be melted down and recycled without causing deterioration in the quality of the metal.
Revealing the object's Hidden History…
As part of the DCF funded Living Metal project, we visited Richard Abdy at AR Wentworth (Sheffield) Ltd to find out more about the Twist vase. Wentworth's is one of the most important firms manufacturing pewter goods in Sheffield today.
Hidden History: Richard Abdy's thoughts on the Twist vase…
"If someone said "what's your dessert island piece of pewter?" it would be this".
"I really like it. It's the original and the best. Never bettered".
Hidden History: how was it made?
Catherine Tutt first began to experiment for this design in cardboard, bending it up to create twisted forms. She then moved on to try making the same shapes from sheet pewter.
The Twist is extremely simple to manufacture. The metalsmith begins with a single square sheet of pewter. The lines of the design are drawn onto the flat sheet. These lines are then 'gone over' with a rolling plate to leave an impression in the surface. They are then scored and the vase is bent up into shape.
The seam runs along the tallest edge of the vase. After soldering, an oversized bottom is soldered on then cut back to the correct shape for a perfect fit. The base is put on this way as slight deviations in the shape of the vase can occur during its construction.
Hidden History: how has the design developed over time?
While the design has remained consistent since 1996, there have been a number of developments in the production of the Twist vase. One example is that the vase can be made to commission in silver. Richard Abdy has one of these in his own home.
One of the Twist's most popular uses today is actually as a trophy. For this, Wentworth's fill the vase with plaster of Paris to add weight. The top is then closed up and engraving can be added if desired. The Twist has been used as a prize at a Dance Music awards ceremony.
Hidden History: about Richard Abdy…
"I have been around ARW [AR Wentworth (Sheffield) Ltd] since my childhood, my father having worked for and later owning Wentworth's. After leaving University in 1996 I came to Wentworth's "before getting a proper job" and I never left. My job covers all aspects of the pewter trade with the pursuit of new design in pewter being the best part of the job".