Cob building

The Radcliffe Red List of Endangered Crafts

 

Cob building

 

The making of and building in cob (also known as ‘cobb’, ‘clom’ or ‘clay lump’), a natural building material made from subsoil, water, organic fibrous material such as straw, and sometimes lime.

 

Status Currently viable
Craft category  Walling and hedging; Building crafts
Historic area of significance
Area currently practised
Origin in the UK
Minimum no. of craftspeople required
Current no. of trainees
Current no. of skilled craftspeople
Current total no. of craftspeople

 

History

 

Techniques

 

Local forms

 

Sub-crafts

 

Issues affecting the viability of the craft

 

Support organisations

 

Craftspeople currently known

 

Other information

 

References

 

Charcoal burning

The Radcliffe Red List of Endangered Crafts

 

Charcoal burning

 

The making of charcoal by heating wood with little or no oxygen.

 

Status Currently viable
Craft category  Wood
Historic area of significance  Traditionally big in the iron industries of the Weald, Forest of Dean and Lake District
Area currently practised  UK (now currently practised as part of woodland management)
Origin in the UK  Paleolithic
Minimum no. of craftspeople required
Current no. of trainees 11-20
Current no. of skilled craftspeople  201-500
Current total no. of craftspeople  201-500 (charcoal burners who make a living or a part living from converting British grown timber to charcoal using any method)

 

History

Charcoal burning was traditionally big in the iron industries of the Weald, Forest of Dean, Lake District but is now practised widely as a part of woodland management.

Until well into the twentieth century, charcoal was made mainly using earth burns or earth clamps, but kilns and retorts were developed in the seventeenth century and have no taken over except for historical re-enactment. Recently a new generation of retorts have been favoured as being more efficient conversion of timber to charcoal than kilns (and masses better than clamps) and less polluting.

Charcoal is made for a variety of purposes, including for drawing, tandoori ovens, animal feeds, filtration, and charcoal fines for biochar/soil improvement.

 

Techniques

Wood is heated with restricted oxygen until it begins to pyrolyse or release volatile compounds these are either released into the air (clamps and kilns) or captured, burnt and the heat produced continues to convert timber to charcoal until most of the volatiles are removed. The wood is then allowed to cool and the charcoal bagged for sale.

 

Local forms

 

Sub-crafts

 

Issues affecting the viability of the craft

  • Market issues: Cheap imports of charcoal from unsustainable sources keeping prices down

 

Support organisations

 

Craftspeople currently known

As of February 2017, the Coppice Products website lists 44 makers of charcoal and bio-char, although the output of each maker is not known.

 

Other information

 

References

Chair making

The Radcliffe Red List of Endangered Crafts

 

Chair making

 

The making of wooden chairs, including Windsor chairs and frame chairs. See the separate entries for Orkney chair making and for general furniture making.

 

Status Currently viable
Craft category  Wood
Historic area of significance  High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire
Area currently practised  UK
Origin in the UK 16th century
Minimum no. of craftspeople required
Current no. of trainees  Unknown
Current no. of skilled craftspeople  30 approx.
Current total no. of craftspeople

 

History

Windsor chair: solid plank seat, with the legs tenoned into the seat.

Frame chair: a woven seat, with all the components tenoned into each other

Chairs only became a part of general domestic furniture in Elizabethan times, and the demand for chairs began to grow in the seventeenth century. The Industrial Revolution and mechanisation led to a new middle class which provided customers for chairs. While fashionable chairs made from imported woods such as mahogany were mainly obtainable in London and provincial towns, rural people relied on locally made furniture from the ‘wilder’ woods of beech/elm.

Chair making became separated from other woodworking trades through its development as a wood-turner’s chair rather than a joiner’s chair.

 

Techniques

 

Local forms

 

Sub-crafts

 

Issues affecting the viability of the craft

  • Market issues: There are not a lot of chair makers around (perhaps 30 highly skilled makers) – but the market can only support a certain number
  • Market issues: Hard to find the market
  • Market issues: Need for business skills, marketing skills etc.
  • Market issues: The time it takes to make a chair means that a certain amount has to be charged (e.g. £800 for an armchair which takes a week), which significantly reduces the number of potential customers
  • Dilution of skills: There are probably only 30 highly skilled chair makers, but many more fairly inexperienced makers are teaching the craft and passing on their skills
  • Training issues: Chair making courses are very popular with lots of people doing them, but very few of those go on to become serious/professional chair makers

 

Support organisations

 

Craftspeople currently known

 

Other information

 

References

  • Mayes, L. J., The History of Chairmaking in High Wycombe, Routledge & K. Paul, 1960
  • Sparkes, Ivan G., The English Country Chair: An Illustrated History of Chairs and Chairmaking, Spurbooks Limited, 1973
  • Jenkins, J. Geraint, Traditional Country Craftsmen, Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd., 1978
  • Williamson, Laureen, Woodcrafts in South Oxfordshire: Chair Bodging & Tent Pegging, Oxfordshire Museums Information Sheet 21, 1986
  • Area Museums Service for South Eastern England, Exhibition Information: The Country Chair, August 1975
  • Cotton, Bill, Windsor Chair making: an Oxfordshire tradition, published in Oxfordshire Country Life, n.d., pp.7-11
  • Cotton, Bill, Country Chairs, published in Antique Finder, October 1973
  • Cotton, William, Vernacular Design: The Spindle Back Chair and its North Country origins, published in Working Wood, 1980, pp.41–50
  • Cotton, Bill, The North Country Chair Making Tradition: Design, Context and the Mark Chippindale Deposition, offprint from Furniture History, Vol. XVII, 1981, pp.42–51

Ceramics and pottery

The Radcliffe Red List of Endangered Crafts

 

Ceramics and pottery

 

The making of items from clay, either by hand-building, casting, moulding or throwing.

 

Status Currently viable
Craft category  Clay
Historic area of significance
Area currently practised
Origin in the UK
Minimum no. of craftspeople required
Current no. of trainees
Current no. of skilled craftspeople
Current total no. of craftspeople

 

History

Items may be hand-built, cast, moulded or thrown, fired or unfired, and glazed or unglazed.

 

Techniques

 

Local forms

 

Sub-crafts

 

Issues affecting the viability of the craft

 

Support organisations

 

Craftspeople currently known

 

Other information

 

References

 

Carpet and rug weaving

The Radcliffe Red List of Endangered Crafts

 

Carpet and rug weaving

 

The making of carpets/rugs by interlacing (weaving) warps and wefts on a loom by hand so that the strong linen warp is completely covered by the wool weft. See the separate entry for general weaving.

 

Status Currently viable
Craft category  Textiles
Historic area of significance
Area currently practised  UK
Origin in the UK
Minimum no. of craftspeople required  Opinions differ between 21-50 and 51-100
Current no. of trainees  Opinions differ between 0 and 21-50
Current no. of skilled craftspeople  Opinions differ between 11-20 and 21-50
Current total no. of craftspeople  Opinions differ between 21-50 and 51-100 (see ‘Other information’ for further details)

 

History

The craft of carpet and rug weaving is essentially a sub-craft of handweaving in which a thick, strong, fabric is created. Carpet/rug weaving is done on a larger and stronger loom than normal handweaving, using a very strong warp and a very tight weave with greater tension. As a result, it generally requires a bigger workspace than normal handweaving.

The UK has a long history of carpet design, weaving and manufacture with industrial production dating back to the seventeenth century. Most carpets are knotted or woven with pile. Flat woven rugs were first made in the UK in the 1870s by William Morris. Rug weaving is an occupation requiring just one person to design and make, therefore taking a lot of time to make. There are now few people who design and weave rugs in the UK – it is more common to be a rug designer with the manufacturing done abroad. Other forms of carpet/rug making, such as tufted rugs and rag rugs, are also popular.

 

Techniques

Hand-woven rugs are constructed using traditional rug weaving techniques with contemporary designs. Flat-woven rugs are made with a linen or cotton warp and wool or cotton weft. Peter Collingwood invented the ‘shaft-switching’ technique which is commonly used today.

Types of weave include: weft-faced plain weave, rep weave, block weave, twill, 3 end blockweave with Collingwood shaft switching, tapestry, krogbragd, boundweave.

 

Local forms

 

Sub-crafts

 

Issues affecting the viability of the craft

  • Training issues: Rug weaving requires a very large, multi-shaft floor loom which takes up a lot of space. This means that very few people have the space to weave rugs. Furthermore, very few people have the space to teach rug weaving as this would require several rug-weaving looms in one space. While the interest is there, most people who want to learn the craft have to teach themselves.
  • Training issues: Lack of a college course offering rug weaving – although colleges such as the Bradford School of Art do run handweaving courses.
  • Market issues: Lack of demand when competing with cheaper imports.
  • Market issues: Production is very slow, not just in terms of the weaving, but also in the preparation and finishing. Materials are also very expensive. As a result, the cost of UK production is high, meaning demand for and production of rugs in the UK is low.
  • Market issues: It is an extremely niche market, most rugs being made overseas at a fraction of my material costs.
  • Market issues: Hard to sell at a price that is enough to make a living.
  • Market issues: It is very hard to make a living solely from rug weaving – often need to teach or write or do something else alongside to supplement income
  • Supply of raw materials: It is hard to get good quality materials and because it is so time intensive, there is no point working with inferior materials.

 

Support organisations

 

Craftspeople currently known

 

Other information

Total number of craftspeople: Rug weavers can be divided into hobby weavers, and those exhibiting and selling (of which there are far fewer).

Rug wool in the UK comes from the mill end yarns from the carpet industry.

There is training available, there are practitioners, and there is an outlet/market – it just goes on in quite a small scale. There is also plenty of information about weaving.

 

References

  • Collingwood, Peter. Rug Weaving.
  • Collingwood, Peter. 1968. The Techniques of Rug Weaving. Faber & Faber.
  • Collingwood, Peter. 1990. Rug Weaving Techniques, Beyond the Basics. B.T. Batsford.
  • Croot, Ann. 1979. Woven Carpets and Rugs. Hamlyn Group.
  • Knight, Brian. 1980. Rug Weaving, Technique and Design. B.T. Batsford.
  • Peverill, Sue. 1989. Make Your Own Rugs. Hamlyn Group.