School of Hard Knocks, Royal Selangor Visitor Centre
October 11, 2009 § 1 Comment
This Saturday, scientist sis and I attended the School of Hard Knocks. If you’ve never heard of it, this is the Royal Selangor visitor centre in Setapak, Kuala Lumpur, where you can go on a tour of the history/facts on pewter, see how skilled craftspeople make pewter parts and baubles (fascinating stuff!), do some expensive shopping (optional) and for a small fee of RM50, bang out your very own pewter plate.
That’s my idea of a good weekend 🙂
We were greeted by a friendly tour guide at the base of the building. The guides come in multiple languages – I remember hearing some Korean and Japanese the last time I was at the factory. This one had memorised all the facts and figures and could tell us anything off the top of his head. And he talked very fast! 🙂 Walking through the factory, we got to try our hand at hammering a design on a tumbler. You have to hit the same spot TWICE to make a nice indentation, and then move on to the next spot. Not as easy as it looks… our guide told us that most apprentices have to practice for 6 months before mastering this exercise.
There was also a station where you can see how pewter is cast… kind of like a slip mold, except that pewter solidifies in about 2 seconds, so you have to be very quick. It was gratifying to see each pewter handle drop out of its mold with a solid CLUNK. I think at some point of my life, I wouldn’t mind being a factory worker here… except that the starting pay is something like RM800 😦
So what happened at the School of Hard Knocks?
First things first, we were introduced to a hand-sized disc of pewter, still flat and untouched. This, it was explained to us, would become our plate after some amount of hammering.
Then we had to knock in our words/names on the discs with these:
Then the merciless malleting began!
Our plates were hustled into tissue wrappers and cardboard boxes. Then we were hustled into the store downstairs! It was 5 mins away from closing time, so we were running around like chickens taking pictures here and there…
I wish I could bang out a couple of these plates every day…