Manifesto for Making – the HCA Conference 2013

Heritage Crafts Awards Winners 2013.

Heritage Crafts Awards Winners 2013. Back row – Angela Brown (volunteer winner), Nick Carter (Marsh Christian Trust), Paul Martin (HCA Patron), Brian Hill (volunteer runner up)
Front row – Anna Atkins (volunteer runner up), Phil Barnes (trainer runner up), Tracy Franklin (trainer runner up)

The theme for the third annual HCA conference was ‘Manifesto for Making’. With a fantastic line up of speakers, we asked delegates and speakers to contribute to the Manifesto for Making before and on the day. We asked:

  • Why is Making Important?
  • Where Should Crafts Be?
  • How Do We Get There?

Most importantly we asked our speakers what making actually means to them at a very personal level, why do they do what they do?

With input from the audience and speakers, together we are creating a Manifesto for Making that will inspire a new generation of craft enthusiasts and help us explain to press, government and others why craft is important. We are currently working on collating all the comments into the manifesto and will post all the results here soon.

Manifesto for Making Video (Artisan Media):

HCA Conference 2013 from Artisan Media on Vimeo.



Paul Martin of BBC’s Handmade Revolution. Talking about his passion for the handmade from his childhood experience of building a traditional wooden boat with his father to filming the Handmade Revolution for the BBC.

David Hieatt, founder of Howies clothing, the Do Lectures and most recently Hiut Denim. “My town used to have the biggest jeans factory in Britain. And then one day it closed. I have started a small factory to make my own brand of jeans and to get our town making jeans again”. 

Phill Gregson, a traditional time served wheelwright, makes all aspects of wooden wheels, vehicles, metalwork and tools/equipment for re-enactment societies, craftsmen and tradesmen.

Mila Burcikova, creator of ‘Misense’ fashion label is also a PhD candidate at Charles University, Prague. Her thesis investigates the role of craft as an agent of social change and the relationship between craft, social transformation and utopianism. In particular,  the link between the ideas and work of poet, designer and political activist  William Morris and the currently flourishing ‘Craftivism’ movement.

Deborah Carre, founded carréducker with James Ducker in 2004. carréducker is known for handmade shoes that combine traditional craft skills perfected over generations, with a distinct, contemporary aesthetic. In addition to their own atelier, carréducker runs the bespoke shoemaking department at the world renowned Savile Row tailor and gentleman’s outfitter, Gieves & Hawkes.

Making Matters: Marketing Makers 2013

548350_10152023763019813_1179391828_nThe morning (Making Matters) was spent with key speakers talking about how important craft and making is. The keynote speaker was John Hayes Minister without Portfolio. He replaced Skills and Enterprise Minister Matt Hancock who has had to pull out of the event. Lord Cormack, former Chair of the All Party Arts and Heritage Group and HCA Patron, also gave a short talk about the significance of making. This was followed by The Future of Craft – views of Craft Visionaries, chaired by Guy Salter. Where is craft going? What is hot? How should we be pitching our work to target the changing market.

In the afternoon (Marketing Makers) we had more great speakers giving targeted advice for your business to help you increase sales and profit whilst doing what you love.

The event also included the launch of new materials for teachers, developed in association with Farming and Countryside Education (FACE), with the support of the Ernest Cook Trust.


Craft Visionaries

Guy Salter, Chair
Guy Salter is Founder and Chair of Crafted, the outstanding mentoring scheme for craftspeople, as well as Deputy Chair of Walpole, the luxury group. Whilst working for The Prince of Wales he also founded and developed Duchy Originals and is on the Council of The Prince’s Trust.

Professor Ewan Clayton – Craft Visionary
Ewan Clayton has just published his latest book, The Golden ThreadThe Story of Writing –  which has had wonderful reviews (Telegraph, Financial Times, BBC Radio 4 ‘Midweek’). He is Professor of Design at Sunderland University and is co-founder of the International Calligraphy Symposium and the Foundation Degree in Calligraphy at Kensington Palace.

Dr Tanya Harrod – Craft Visionary
Tanya Harrod was awarded the James Tait Black Award in Edinburgh this year for her seminal work on the British potter, Michael Cardew, and was the author of the prize-winning The Crafts in Britain in the Twentieth Century. Tanya was previously a Trustee of the HCA and is now an advisor.

Sir Mark Jones – Craft Visionary
Mark Jones was formerly the Director at the Victoria and Albert Museum, and is now Master of Saint Cross College in Oxford. Mark was instrumental in the Heritage Crafts Association having its launch at the V&A, and he continues as one of the HCA Patrons.

Vanessa Swann – Craft Visionary
Vanessa Swann was awarded the Art and Business Garrett Award in 2011 for encouraging business support for the arts, and is CEO at Cockpit Arts and has changed it from a managed workspace to a place where craft businesses can grow.


The afternoon speakers and topics were:

Mark HendersonMarketing
Mark Henderson has spent a lifetime marketing into the luxury sector and has a passion for British craft. He is chairman of Gieves & Hawkes and founder of The New Craftsmen. Mark is a director of the luxury trade body Walpole, a patron of the HCA and has acted as a mentor on the Crafted programme. He shared his top tips for marketing craft.

Horatia HarrodWhat makes a good story
Horatia Harrod is Commissioning Editor at Sunday Telegraph. She reviews a wide range of media and being daughter of Tanya Harrod has a great understanding of craft. She helped us find the best ways to get our stories into the press for free.

Alistair HughesPricing
Alistair Hugues created Savoir beds together with Stephen Winston, buying The Bedworks from The Savoy hotel in 1997 and creating Savoir Beds. Deciding what price to put on our work and achieving a price that allows us to make a good living is perhaps one of the hardest things for craftspeople to do. Alistair’s talk on pricing was simply the best..

Robin WoodInternet marketing for craftspeople
Robin Wood turns bowls and plates on a simple foot powered lathe and has sold most of his work over the web for 15 years. This was not a techie talk it was about the simple things you can do to achieve more sales over the web with less effort. Robin is the chair of the Heritage Crafts Association.


The event was held at Carpenters’ Hall in the City of London – a great venue with fantastic craft all around. This event was only possible thanks to a grant from the Radcliffe Trust.

Crafting Publicity training 2012

545282_10151245468619813_359215084_nIn September 2012, nearly 50 craftspeople attended HCA’s first business skills workshop, ‘Crafting Publicity’. Following calls made last year at our Skills Forum, for more business support to be made available to those working in traditional crafts, HCA set about gathering together industry professionals who could pass on their knowledge, expertise and tips.

As an organisation with a remit to support traditional crafts nationally, but without a physical headquarters, it was felt that the choice of venue and location was an important part of the event. With its geographic location, history of craft trades and surrounding communities of craftspeople, Sheffield was an ideal choice. The Sheffield Millennium Gallery, home to the Ruskin Collection and a great collection illustrating the history of Sheffield metalware, welcomed HCA Trustees, speakers and workshop attendees on Saturday 8 September 2012.

Presentations and practical sessions were led by Andy Evans, from PurePR, Clare Jenkins from Pennine Productions and Ellen O’Hara, Lucy Kyle and Emma Thatcher from Cockpit Arts.

With kind support from the Radcliffe Trust, the Heritage Crafts Association were able to offer places at the workshop at a subsidised rate.

Evolving craft communities – the HCA Conference 2012

The 2012 Heritage Crafts Association conference at the V&A had the theme ‘Evolving Craft Communities’

His Royal Highness wrote:

“As President of the Heritage Crafts Association, I believe most strongly that it is vital to support and encourage such remarkable craftsmen and women to ensure the survival of such unique and special skills. … I am delighted that your conference will celebrate and promote the best of British craftsmanship, while demonstrating that maintaining those skills and traditions is not simply hanging on to the past, but ensuring that they continue to bring genuine economic and cultural benefits to our communities today – and for generations to come.”

We are live in exciting times as we can exchange and source information freely across the web. How does this change our craft practice and how does it compare to past practices of passing skills? Is it possible to feel connected to other folk we have never met who live in other continents and what sort of meaning does that bring to our lives? How do we make the best use of changes that are happening and new opportunities available to us?

Speakers at the conference included Professor Richard Sennett, talking about “Making and thinking”. Richard is author of the well-received book The Craftsman, and professor of sociology at  New York University and LSE. He popularised the idea that it takes 10,000 hours to master a craft skill, he also talks from personal experience of hand skills having put those hours in training as a cellist.

Lida Kindersley runs the highly successful Cardozo Kindersley Workshop in  Cambridge. Lida was trained by David Kindersley who was himself trained by Eric Gill. She wrote a nice book on apprenticeship  Her workshop practices solidly ‘old school’ with apprentices learning letter-cutting alongside the team of experienced craftspeople.

Ele Carpenter is a curator, artist and researcher working within the field of visual arts and new media. She talked about the open source embroidered digital commons 

Stuart Mitchell’s apprenticeship in the Sheffield cutlery industry was very traditional. He started at the bottom and worked all hours until eventually even his father took pride in the knives that he built. His workshop, and indeed work ethic, is still steeped in the traditions of Sheffield of old, but things have changed.

And then HCA Chair Robin Wood talked about how he feels to be part of a global online woodworking community but how he still values physical get-togethers and particularly working on craft projects together alongside other people whether sharing his knowledge through courses or learning from others.

The first Marsh Christian Trust Awards for Heritage Crafts were presented by Alex Langlands (archaeologist and TV presenter on BBC series, Victorian Farm and Edwardian Farm) and representatives from the Trust. Wayne Parrott was the winner in Trainer category, and James Portus, a Volunteer at Fishstock Brixham, and both received their cheques for £500 each and calligraphed certificates.

Craft Skills Forum 2011

On Wednesday 11 May 2011 leaders of the UK craft world came together to discuss issues or craft skills training and how to address them, it was an inspiring and positive day. We had over 100 delegates mostly chairs of the various craft organisations from the weavers spinners and dyers, basketmakers and craft potters to blacksmiths and the Royal College of Needlework.

Read address by John Hayes MP, Skills Minister

We discussed first sharing good practice, many of these organisations have been working for years often in difficult circumstances trying to ensure that the skills of their craft are passed on. We wanted to hear about what was working and why it worked. There were some great ideas which could be shared from one craft to another.

The second question we again discussed in our round table groups was “What are the issues facing transfer of craft skills?” We wanted to know difficulties folk had faced, what were the problems that needed addressing.

The last and most important session was to discuss what needed to be done to address those issues. After 30 minutes free ranging discussion each table had 10 minutes to pick out 5 key points and write them on flip chart paper. Then each delegate had 6 dots which they could go round the room and put on things they felt most passionately about. We have a lot of number crunching to do but this will eventually give a report which shows clearly a range of issues people felt were important but also a hierarchy so we can get on with addressing the most important first.

HCA over the last few years have been involved in a lot of consultations and often we leave wondering if anything will ever come out of the time we have given. We were very keen for this not to be a talking shop. The tremendous turn out of leaders of all the associations and the strength of feeling mean that the report will genuinely be the voice of the sector. Who will listen? Well there may be some things HCA can take action on ourselves but we also have a key ally in John Hayes the skills minister who is very keen to hear what the priorities of the sector are and to address them. He was meant to be with us on the day but was called away last minute. He was able to record the speech he had prepared and we showed that on the day, the transcript is here. Equally important the lead official in BIS tasked with carrying out the ministers requests, Jonathan Yewdall, is also passionate about traditional crafts and was with us all day. He not only joined int he conversations to get a real hands on view of the issues under discussion but also took questions after the ministers speech.

We have had a deluge of correspondence following the day and have a lot of work now to get that report out, in the meantime I have a presentation to write for the ITES conference at Lincoln on Thursday and it would be nice to get one day in the workshop this week.

“It was just astounding that so many people came and gave their time, felt so passionately, and contributed so much to the day. I went away feeling that your organisation is full of life and positivity.”
“It was a great day and really informative”

“A fascinating series of discussions and a really interesting day!”

At the end of the day we were treated to a tasting of the Balvenie single malt scotch whisky with a very entertaing presentation about the skills and crafts which go into it’s production. We started on 12 yr olds and worked our way up the table to my personal favourite a 21 year old sherry cask. It was a lovely informal way to end the day and we were deeply grateful to the Balvenie for sponsoring the whole event.

Another report on the Craft and Design blog here

Thanks to Joel Virgo our volunteer photographer on the day for images, Jan Lasnon of craft and design magazine for two of her images, Beth Tilston for filming (youtube to follow) Patricia and Sally for superb event organisation and the Balvenie for making it all possible.


Key points selected by delegates

The most important aspects of craft skills as chosen by delegates are as follows:

Sector-lead skills development

  • Craftspeople or crafts organisations to take the lead in organising apprenticeships and their funding.
  • Simplify the support structures, routes to public funding and access to information to ensure that small organisations can deal with them.
  • Strengthen the HCA in its role as the advocacy voice for the sector and encourage it to work with like-minded bodies in the Heritage and Crafts sectors.

Workplace focused apprenticeship and informal adult learning

  • Funding for adult returners/post 20 career changers to learn specific craft.
  • Support informal learning including non-accredited and post-19.
  • Craft training for all ages (not just 16-19 year olds).
  • An introduction of serious, properly funded 3–5 year apprenticeships for young people to aspire to.

Primary and secondary education

  • Making craft a part of education at all levels – particularly primary and secondary.
  • Craft to be embedded in education from an early age – from primary onwards.
  • National Curriculum needed to ensure that crafts are included and valued.

Change perception of crafts

  • Government to change perception of crafts so that schools and parents see it as a worthwhile career.
  • To improve the perception of crafts and technical skills by inclusion in the education of young people.
  • Increase exposure and publicity for the crafts through local and national initiatives.
  • Celebrating craft excellence from school to national masters of craft.


Key recommendations

  • Crafts organisations should play a lead role in organising skills training and support and funding should be simplified to enable this.
  • Crafts should be reintroduced to schools at all levels and shown as a viable career path.
  • Facilitate entry paths for post-19 year olds with funded training.
  • Change the perception of crafts. To be successful in craft requires years of dedication, training and intelligence, this should be recognised.