Royal Selangor Foundry and School of Hard Knocks Workshop Experience
Ever wonder what to do on a weekend? Drive-away for a weekend getaway, drive around to search for the best food or visit the places of attractions? I found a new interesting activity to do. It is the foundry and school of hard knocks workshop in Royal Selangor.
Wall of Hands. At Royal Selangor, they appreciate their employees, for those who have worked with them for five years will get their hands and names imprinted on the walls of the centre.
What is Foundry Workshop?
At the Foundry, take the opportunity to make a pewter accessory from scratch with methods used in the Royal Selangor factory today. Participants will be guided through the processes of casting, polishing and decorating by an experienced instructor. For the adventurous, why not get creative and create your very own freehand design?
This is a new fun initiative created by Royal Selangor for its visitors and the 60 minute workshop is a great way to get well acquainted with pewter. Yes and I had lots of fun and trying to make something viable using my creative juice.
What is School of Hard Knocks?
At the School of Hard Knocks, participants will learn how an enterprising young man from China practised his craft, laying the foundation of what has become Royal Selangor.
During this 30 minutes fun-filled session, an experienced instructor will teach participants how to create your very own pewter dish using traditional tools (hammer, mallet and wooden mould) just as it was done by pewtersmiths more than a hundred years ago! Participants get to keep the finished dish and will be presented with a personalised certificate for their one-off masterpiece. Before I share my experience why don’t we understand a bit on Royal Selangor.
Guinness World Record of the biggest tankard in the world at the centre.
Before it is known as Royal Selangor, it is called the Selangor Pewter. I grew up understanding the brand name as one of the luxurious and top brands in Malaysia. As much as I thought I “understand” the brand, little did I know that it is founded and owned by Malaysian Chinese for more than 100 years.
Datin Paduka Chen Mun Kuen explaining the history of Royal Selangor.
Founded in 1885, Selangor Pewter or Royal Selangor is the world’s foremost name in quality pewter, a brand synonymous with design and craftsmanship. In the hands of our skilled craftspeople, this versatile alloy of tin, copper and antimony is transformed into an endless variety of homeware and gifts sold in more than twenty countries around the world.
Generations of skills and quality, Datin Paduka Chen Mun Kuen and the founder.
How did Selangor Pewter become Royal Selangor? For those who didn’t know, the name “Royal” can be only given by the king and it is an exclusive right to own the name in Malaysia. Royal Selangor is the first private company in Malaysia entitled the name “Royal” bestowed by the late Sultan of Selangor. As I was told by Datin Paduka Chen Mun Kuen, the late Sultan of Selangor was shopping in Perth in 1980s with his bodyguards and the curious salesman asked of His Majesty’s origin. His Majesty then answered “Selangor” and the salesman sang praises of the fame of the name “Selangor” through the “Selangor Pewter”. His Majesty was happy to know that Selangor Pewter brought fame using state’s name to many parts of the world and His Majesty then bestowed them the name “Royal”. Since then, Selangor Pewter is called Royal Selangor.
Royal Selangor is the second oldest surviving Malaysian Chinese company after Ue Yan Sang. Currently the 4th generation is running the company and it still inherits the skills and the qualities passed on.
With such heritage, it was an honour to be invited as a guest of the new activity, the Foundry at their Visitor Centre in Wangsa Maju.
The Visitor Centre takes you back over a hundred years to the founding of Royal Selangor and its inextricable link with the history of Malaysia, to the present day as the world’s largest pewter maker and its expansion into gold and sterling silver.
The Royal Selangor factory, all of the pewters are partially hand made here to perfection.
With a built-up area of 40,000 square feet, the Royal Selangor Visitor Centre has won the Malaysian Tourism Best Tourist Attraction Award 2004 in the category of attraction with national identity or heritage, as well as the ASEAN Tourism Association Awards 2005 for Excellence as Best ASEAN New Tourist Attraction. Today it receives hundreds of domestic and international visitors daily.
This is the money tree of Malaya. This is the replica of the old currency used in ancient times of Malaysia.
Every story has a beginning and Royal Selangor’s coincides with the remarkable development of tin mining in the Malay Peninsula in the 1800s. Traditional pewtersmithing tools and antique pewter from around the world are showcased in the Pewter Museum, and ancient tin currency is featured.
The lucky pot, this is the glass reflection of the actual pewter. There is a story behind this lucky pot, you have to visit the centre to know why.
I was greeted by the owner, Datin Paduka Chen Mun Kuen and she toured me around the centre. I was there listening to her stories for hours and it was a rare opportunity to meet such a gracious and humble person like her.
The hot cast in the Foundry Workshop.
Then, I was up to my task of creating my own pewter at the Foundry. As mentioned, only 60 minutes are allowed at the Foundry and creating pewter by my own was not as easy as I thought.
I was pouring the hot tin onto the rubber mould to create a pewter, the tin hardened within seconds.
Using the hot cast, I need to pour the hot tin onto the table and create a design. Within seconds, the tin will hardened and became pewter. There are standard designs of rubber casts with selected designs but that was too easy for me.
I was creating my art work freehand by pouring on to the table, it was tougher than I thought.
I wanted more and something for my own and something I will be proud of so I can showcase at home. For that, using the dripping method and I created a tree!
Creating the tree by dripping the hot tin on top of the table.
Well, it took me a few times to perfect my own creation. After creating the design, I have to brush and polish it and stained it. I stained my creation with two different type of method so I have two different tones of colour. Within an hour, I created my masterpiece and I purchased a frame for it too.
The end product, a tree was created and I am the proud owner of it!
Knocking is harder than I thought, it takes time and precision to perfect it.
For the School of Hard Knocks, it was all about knocking. Equipped with a hammer, I had to knock a piece of round shape tin onto smaller size bowl-alike pewter. I was told that I could do achieve it within 20 minutes but it was not as easy as I thought. It was all about knocking and precision. The timing to move the tin around with the knocking is an art of patience and precision. There were two wooden moulds used in the process. To complete the whole process I took around 20-25 minutes and I received a certificate for my effort. Call it fun and hard knocking session but it was all worth it.
Certified as a hard knocker at Royal Selangor.
There is no waste in Royal Selangor, unused tin will be recycle for use.
Indeed I spent almost whole day in Royal Selangor Visitor Centre. There is also a café and they serve quality food. Guinness cake is one of their highlights and it went well with a cup of coffee. There is plenty of history going on there and there are plenty beautiful pewters for you to shop. While bus load of tourists coming in and out every hour or so but that didn’t stop me from enjoying myself in the centre. Please do book your slot for the Foundry Workshop early as they limit to four persons in a session. Now, you can have another reason to have quality time for your weekend by visiting the Royal Selangor Visitor Centre.
Royal Selangor Visitor Centre Address and Contact:
4 Jalan Usahawan 6,
Setapak Jaya, 53300 Kuala Lumpur
For online purchase and pre-sales enquiry, please call sales support at +60 3 4149 5100
For other enquiries, please call general line at +603 4145 6000