Siân represents the UK in Uzbekistan

Sian Evan in UzbekistanCoppersmith and HCA member Siân Evans represented the UK heritage crafts sector at the first International Handicrafters Festival in Uzbekistan in September. Siân was invited by The Embassy of the Republic of Uzbekistan in London represent the country and to demonstrate coppersmithing and talk about her work. According to the HCA Red List of Endangered Crafts she is one of five known ornamental coppersmiths working in Britain today and the idea of cultural preservation through the language of crafts skills was a core theme at the Festival.

After the flight into Uzbekistan, delegates from seventy-nine countries were taken by train, over the mountains and into the city of Kokand, which had recently been granted the status of Creative City of Crafts and Folk Art by the World Crafts Council. The reception was extraordinary – crowds cheering, bands playing, children dancing – marking the start of a very special event.

Sian Evan in UzbekistanThe festival itself was held in the grounds of the Palace of Khudoyar-Khan, where a village of yurts, tents, marquees and huts had sprung up, each housing a working craftsperson. All fifteen regions of Uzbekistan were represented and international flags showed where the overseas visitors were based. On the first day there was considerable press interest and as a result, crowds grew each subsequent day.

On Saturday 14th a huge opening ceremony took place, in the presence of the President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev. In his welcoming speech, he spoke of the value of craftsmanship in universal culture and how it “occupies a special place in the life of each nation, shaping its mentality and values”.

He added: “the craftsmanship derives inspiration in harmony with nature” and that in order to “breathe life into an ordinary clay, piece of metal or wood… there will be needed not only scrupulous work, but also the warmth of human soul”.

1st International Handicrafters FestivalThe final two days of the festival were spent meeting new people, discovering the beautiful work, sharing skills, laughing and dancing! Many craftspeople (especially those in obscure or dying crafts) spend a lot of time working in isolation and so this new sense of a global community was not only profound, it was a revelation.

The generosity of the hosts was overwhelming at times, but the most moving gift was given just as it was time to leave. As the delegates boarded the train to return to Tashkent and fly back to their homes and workshops, they were each given a simple work apron, with the emblem of the festival on it.

Symposium on Endangered Baskets

Endangered Baskets Symposium 5 October 2019Where: Museum of English Rural Life, Reading
When: Saturday 5 October 2019, 9am to 5pm

Are you an expert on a heritage basket or regional style of basket that you think may be endangered?

Hosted by the Heritage Crafts Association and the Basketmakers’ Association, the aim of this event was to bring together basket makers and experts from across the UK basket making community to assess the numbers of practitioners making heritage baskets and related crafts.

This will be brought together into a report and action plan to ensure that the intangible heritage of skills and knowledge are passed on to the next generation and continue to provide an inspiration and resource for contemporary makers.

This project has been generously funded by the Basketmakers’ Association, The Museum of English Rural Life and the Worshipful Company of Basketmakers.

The Prince’s Foundation and QEST launch building arts programme

HammeringQEST and The Prince’s Foundation have launched the Building Arts Programme, focused on the core belief that our built environmental is a collaboration between a vast array of different disciplines which are all fundamentally linked.

Intended for students of architecture, building crafts and decorative and applied arts, this interdisciplinary programme will provide a space for rediscovering shared learning and practice, enabling students to explore the multifaceted nature of the built environment. Graduates will be well positioned to approach their practice in a manner which is both better informed and multidisciplinary, working with others to create a built environment which is more than just the sum of its parts.

Teaching will take place at Dumfries House, Ayrshire, but the course will also include a 12-week individual industry placement, giving students the opportunity to hone their skills within their own trade.

For more details visit the QEST website to download the course overview and application form.

Photo credit: Thom Atkinson

Making woodwind instruments

Making woodwind instruments

Cambridge Woodwind Makers is a not-for-profit organisation providing a platform from which to preserve and teach the skills associated with woodwind instrument making and repair… skills that, according to the Red List of Endangered Crafts, are endangered.

“After many conversations with my colleagues around the world, we have come to an unfortunate conclusion. We are none of us (recorder makers certainly) getting any younger. We also look around and see the same faces at exhibitions and shows that we saw twenty years ago. Great for professional solidarity, but worrying in other respects.”

Tim Cranmore, recorder making tutor at Cambridge Woodwind Makers

Daniel Bangham, classical clarinet maker and founder of Wood, Wind & Reed music shop in Cambridge was one such colleague and was feeling his own ‘old age’ approaching. This led to the founding of Cambridge Woodwind Makers, formally established in October 2011. With his own experience of making, lecturing in instrument repair, business experience and an extensive network of interesting people he was well placed to do something about the pending situation.

Cambridge Woodwind Makers intends to share skills and preserve them through encouraging active participation by anyone with an interest. Its courses range from one day to two weeks. You can make a classical clarinet, a baroque oboe, a long trumpet, a recorder, a cornetto and now, a flute. Day courses are on offer in repairing instruments, the miniute of clarinet barrels, and making oboe reeds. it has also started professional development courses for repairers in the niche skills of key making and will add specific tool making courses too.

There are people interested in these skills, locally and internationally… some just as a once-off treat, some musicians who recognise the extra joy that can come from making their own instrument to play to their own tune, and, importantly, individuals genuinely interested in taking up the baton and going professional. All are valid contributions to the organisation’s vision.

Cambridge Woodwind Makers also now has an associated organisation: Cambridge Art Makers. Although not as focused on endangered crafts, if anyone is interested in teaching workshops at their studio or workshop in Linton, south east of Cambridge, please email