The Radcliffe Red List of Endangered Crafts

 

Metal thread making

 

The making of metal threads for embroidery.

 

Status Critically endangered (see ‘Other information’ for further details)
Craft category Precious metals
Historic area of significance
Area currently practised Bedworth, Warwickshire
Origin in the UK
Current no. of professionals (main income) 1-5
Current no. of professionals (sideline to main income)
0
Current no. of trainees 0
Current total no. serious amateur makers
0
Current total no. of leisure makers
0
Minimum no. of craftspeople required

 

History

Metallic embroidery threads are made using round or flattened wire, usually gold, silver or copper, which may or may not have a core of another material. Machines are used to plait and combine the wire. Metallic threads are used for embroidery, particularly in historical costumes, the theatre, and for insignia. The Royal School of Needlework’s training in gold thread embroidery also provides a big market.

 

Techniques

 

Local forms

 

Sub-crafts

 

Issues affecting the viability of the craft

  • Training issues: there are no trainees in the craft.
  • Training issues/business issues: cost of training an apprentice and their wages, whilst also paying full time employees still have two full time people.
  • Market issues: competition from low-wage economies in Pakistan and India.

 

Support organisations

 

Craftspeople currently known

  • Benton & Johnson (part of Toye, Kenning and Spencer), Birmingham – 3 full-time staff, one of whom is due to retire
  • Golden Threads – based in East Sussex. William Kentish Barnes is in his 70s and is looking to pass his business on.

 

Other information

  • Status: Metal thread making has always been a very small industry, but while the numbers involved are small the two firms are both doing well.

 

References