Sunday, 29 July 2012

Neolithic tin mirrors: Polishing experiments

This post describes a tin polishing experiment using only those materials known to exist in late neolithic Britain (just after the discovery of tin).

After casting of a tin mirror, a small slab of tin if left. At this stage, the surface does not resemble a mirror.

Stage 1:
Use a piece of hard beach rock to break up a piece of chalk:

Stage 2:
Crush the chalk using stones or a pestle an mortar, then add fat or oil and mix to form a white clay.

Stage 3:
Polish the tin plate using a rag or dried leaves: The clay will turn black as the polishing progresses. This process takes a long time!

Stage 4: 
When complete, the polished area will take on a high lustre:

Materials needed: Chalk, fat or oil, a hard rounded stone, a rounded bowl-stone (pestle) and cloth or animal hide:

With these materials, it is relatively simple to produce a good quality tin mirror.

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