Van­ish­ing trade has a lo­cal ad­vo­cate


Colin Hamer has been work­ing with pewter for more than 40 years. What be­gan as a hobby for the met­al­lur­gi­cal en­gi­neer be­came his full-time oc­cu­pa­tion af­ter he took early re­tire­ment from his work as a fed­eral pub­lic ser­vant in re­search and de­vel­op­ment with what was then known as the De­part­ment of Energy, Mines and Re­sources.

His in­ter­est in pewter was sparked when he met Doug Shen­stone, a mas­ter pewtersmith work­ing for the same govern­ment de­part­ment.

“Doug had ap­pren­ticed for three years with a Swedish pewtersmith and then two years as a jour­ney­man in San Fran­cisco, but af­ter the Sec­ond World War, it was dif­fi­cult to get tin, the pri­mary al­loy in pewter,” Hamer ex­plains. “When he fi­nally found a source of tin in the 1960s, he start­ing work­ing with pewter as a hobby. When I met him, I talked him into teach­ing me and then we started go­ing to craft shows to­gether.”

Hamer’s in­ter­est in pewter grew as the two con­tin­ued work­ing to­gether. Over the years, they, to­gether with Hamer’s wife Miesje, at­tended such ma­jor lo­cal craft shows as the reg­u­lar events at Lans­downe Park and the Ne­pean Sport­splex.

“Those years were a good time for craft shows,” says Hamer, who, at 76, no longer cov­ers the craft show cir­cuit. “They ran from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and the stores then weren’t open every evening or on Sun­days.”

Shen­stone willed his col­lec­tion of tools to Hamer, so, af­ter his men­tor’s death in 1992, Hamer set up his own pewter shop.

“I started go­ing into gal­leries and some of my work has been sold to the De­part­ment of For­eign Af­fairs, Trade and De­vel­op­ment and the De­part­ment of Cana­dian Her­itage gift banks,” he says.

“I do re­pairs, as well as mak­ing my own pieces,” he adds, point­ing out that there are very few pewter-smiths across North Amer­ica to­day. “I have just fin­ished a num­ber of re­pairs for cus­tomers in Alaska, Cal­i­for­nia and New York. Now, I’m work­ing on a lunch box for a hunt­ing group in Ohio.”

Hamer’s pewter pieces are avail­able at art stores in Al­monte, Arn­prior, Mer­rickville and Perth, as well as in Ot­tawa.

For more in­for­ma­tion on pewter pieces by Colin Hamer, see www. hamer­


Colin Hamer plan­ishes the bot­tom part of a pewter jug in his work­shop.

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