I reach a sticky issue with my first collection of cast English pewter hair accessories, and the experts step in, luckily, before I do myself damage with a blow-torch.
“All of your substrates have issues,” – the patient man on the end of my mobile.
Unfortunately I’ve hit a sticky issue: adhesives. Apparently, my materials or, in adhesive language, substrates (the things I need to stick) have issues with staying put. I've created a small collection of pewter motifs, cast in molten metal from the carvings I made from my designs. Ray, an traditional pewter craftsman working in Sheffield, has done a wonderful job on the castings. I'm doing an extremely poor job of mounting the designs on their hair accessories.
I assume there must be a solution, but it’s forcing me to read a great deal about glue. And solder. And substrates. This may or may not be boring, but I can get no perspective as my substrates’ issues are stopping me from shipping my designs. Ray's excellently cast designs.
In frustration I bought a butane-powered blow torch this morning. If I can’t stick them I’ll melt them. The first patient man in my life questioned whether this was wise in our attic workshop, surrounded by polishing hydro-carbons and explosive finishes. The second patient man is called Russell and called me from a adhesives manufacturer based out of an old post office in Cheshire, England.
Russell was the one who bluntly raised my substrate issues. But he went on to say he’d worked with another company with similar gremlins. I’m to send him a package of my substrates and he’ll see what he can do.
While making a cup of tea, the phone rang again. Paul, from Oxfordshire. Had I enquired about industrial adhesives? I sure had, Paul, lovely for you to call. Paul went on to interview me, NHS-direct style, about my current (embarrassingly basic) adhesive situation. What’s my fill tolerance? (the gap I have to stick) My required viscosity? (runniness) Acceptable cure time? (time to stick) How am I buying my current solution? (here I heard him choke on his coffee down the phone). Hoping to sound professional I threw back some adhesive buzzwords picked up from google: ‘low gassing’ (won’t poison me), ‘epoxy’, ‘keyed surface’ (sticks bumpy stuff together). Paul didn’t sound impressed.
In the end Paul said he’ll run some bonding trials for me. That’s two parcels of cast pewter ladies' beauty gifts off to two men in British factories to try out some glues. My blow-torch arrives via Amazon Prime tomorrow.
Update: Russell turned out to be extraordinary. If you need a British adhesive supplier contact me for his details. Ray is now hand-soldering my motifs onto their hair accessories and they look beautiful. The blow torch has never left its box.