In 2017, two sculptors (David Paton from Cornwall and Stephane Rouget from Brittany) were commissioned to create a giant 3.7m stone statue of St Piran, the Patron Saint of Cornwall. This huge statue was to become the 100th saint at La Vallée des Saints in Brittany, where it would be the first of many sculptures linking the Celtic nations.
For more than a year, the two artists carved the statue out of rugged Cornish granite, working outdoors in all weather at Trenoweth Quarry in Mabe, near Falmouth. To symbolise St Piran's Irish roots, they carved the millstone around St Piran's neck out of Irish granite. The statue's base was created on site at the Vallée des Saints, where it was sculpted from Breton granite.
David and Stephane finished carving the huge statue in April 2018. In early May of that year, a traction engine hauled the sculpture from Mabe to Falmouth for a weekend-long celebration of its upcoming sea voyage to Brittany. Crowds gathered at the quay to watch the giant statue being loaded onto La Nebuleuse, a traditional Breton fishing boat, for its epic journey to la Vallée des Saints in Brittany.
Shortly before St Piran left the Mabe quarrry, Phil Atkin of Pewter Sky was appointed to create official pewter miniatures of the giant statue. The process of turning the 3.7m granite sculpture into a pewter cast turned out to be a complex one.
Phil began by taking hundreds of photos of the completed statue. He used those photos to build a 3D computer model, much as Hollywood does with its digital recreations of superheroes. The easiest way to generate the necessary photos would have been to use a drone, but Phil was on a very tight schedule so he did the photography himself, using an iPhone at the end of a long stick!
The photos were then put into a computer application, which created a scalable 3D model of the statue. Phil used that data to design three different St Piran miniatures: a pendant, an amulet and a statuette. The computer files for those models were then 3D printed, and Phil used the resulting high-resolution plastic models to create the rubber moulds for his pewter casts.
All of the St Piran miniatures were made by Phil using the ancient method of gravity casting, i.e., by hand-pouring molten pewter into the rubber moulds. Phil then finished and polished all of the miniatures by hand. Pewter is a particularly appropriate material for the St Piran miniatures because St Piran is the Patron Saint of Tin Miners, and modern pewter is composed of approximately 95% tin.
Pewter Sky's Limited Editions St Piran miniatures were created entirely by hand in Cornwall, to commemorate the giant statue's sailing from Falmouth to Brittany in May 2018. Now that the miniatures are no longer available, they have become highly sought after collectors' items.
Pewter Sky is proud to have been involved in The Giant's Crossing, a unique event linking the ancient Celtic cultures of Cornwall and Brittany. For more information about the giant St Piran statue and its home at the Vallée de Saints, visit The Giant's CrossingFacebook page: https://tinyurl.com/GiantsCrossing.