Deadline: 1 December 2019
Millwrighting has been identified by the HCA Red List of Endangered Crafts as a critically endangered skill, and the Society for Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) recognises the urgent need both to train new millwrights, and to encourage and equip experienced craftspeople to work on mills.
Therefore, SPAB is inviting applications for one place on its Craft Fellowship scheme from a craftsperson in any relevant trade who has an interest in mills, and in using and extending their skills to repair and maintain them.
The scheme will follow the existing format of the Craft Fellowship scheme, comprising learning and placements across the country. This is not a complete millwright training programme or apprenticeship, but a way for an experienced craftsperson to acquire specific additional skills to enable them to work on mills. Training extends over a period of nine months and is offered with a bursary to help cover travel and other costs.
Richard Wheater teaching the craft of neon bending. Photo © Richard Wheater.
A new mobile facility to teach neon bending and the restoration of one of the last surviving damask looms are among the projects that have recently received funds to help ensure a better future for some of the UK’s most endangered crafts.
The Heritage Crafts Association (HCA), which earlier this year published the latest edition of its groundbreaking HCA Red List of Endangered Crafts, has awarded the first five grants from its Endangered Crafts Fund, launched in July 2019 to increase the likelihood of endangered crafts surviving into the next generation.
The first five recipients of the HCA Endangered Crafts Fund are:
- Grace Horne, scissor maker – to create dies for the production of hot drop-forged scissor blanks that can be used by Grace and other makers to produce bespoke scissors.
- Deborah White, damask weaver – to restore and use a loom to teach damask weaving to a new generation of weavers.
- Clare Revera, basket maker – to develop and teach a Level 3 City & Guilds course on rare and endangered basket making skills at Westhope College.
- Richard Wheater, neon bender – to build a mobile neon bombarding and vacuum facility to teach neon bending to beginners and intermediate trainees.
- Kate Colin, fan maker – to develop the technical skills of fan making with a view to teaching the craft in future.
The fund was hugely oversubscribed and the HCA hopes to work with many of the unsuccessful candidates to identify other funding and support opportunities.
HCA Endangered Crafts Officer Mary Lewis said:
“We have been overwhelmed by so many wonderful applications and while we wish we had the funds to support them all, we are delighted to have been able to choose projects that we hope will provide future generations with an array of craft skills to which they might not otherwise have access.”
The Endangered Crafts Fund has been set up thanks to a number of generous donations from individuals, from as little as £5 right up to several thousands of pounds. The HCA is now seeking further donations to save even more of Britain’s most endangered crafts from oblivion.
Donations to the Endangered Crafts Fund are welcome at any time – for more information visit www.heritagecrafts.org.uk/ecf. Applications for grants are accepted on a rolling basis, with the next deadline for consideration 29 February 2020. For more information about the fund, email HCA Endangered Crafts Officer Mary Lewis at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Coppersmith 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.
The 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”.
The 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.
Basketwork furniture making was a new entry to the HCA Red List of Endangered Crafts this year. Meet Jonathan, the only remaining full-time maker, and his apprentices at Coates Willow.
Where: 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.