Throughout the COVID-19 lockdown we have been running a series of free online events on Zoom. Here you can find out what event we have coming up. Click here to re-watch the recordings for some of the previous events.
Gemma Black in Conversation – 26 October 2021, 7pm
Join Heritage Crafts in conversation with calligrapher Gemma Black, one of the most proficient and inventive scribes in Australia, if not the world! Her precise lettering style is matched with exciting and innovative designs which really bring the texts to life, and her work is in many collections including the Fitzwilliam Museum Collection of Contemporary Calligraphy. She is in great demand to teach and lecture all over the world and Gemma will be beaming in from Australia for this event.
Dr Maria Maclennan in Conversation – 9 November 2021, 7pm
Join Heritage Crafts in conversation with Dr Maria Maclennan, forensic jeweller. Maria is the world’s first ‘Forensic Jeweller’, exploring how jewellery can be used to assist identification and help solve crimes. After studying jewellery making at art college, Maria worked with designers, forensic anthropologists and police officers during her Masters degree and PhD at Dundee University’s renowned Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification. She now puts her skills to use as Service Design Manager at Police Scotland and Lecturer and Researcher at Edinburgh College of Art.
Michelle Brown in Conversation – 16 November 2021, 7pm
Join Heritage Crafts in conversation with Michelle Brown, manuscript curator. If you’ve ever enjoyed looking at a manuscript online, enlarged it to see every detail of the scripts, admired the illuminations and wondered in awe at the skills shown, you should thank Professor Michelle Brown because she was at the forefront of the technology at the British Library as one of the first Digital Curators. She curated the pioneering exhibition of the Lindisfarne Gospels, and authored facsimiles of the Gospels, the Holkham Bible and the Luttrell Psalter. During her time as Curator and Outreach Officer at the British Library she ensured that the writing, and not just the pictures, of manuscripts were available to modern-day scribes. She is now writing, curating exhibitions all over the world and undertaking voluntary work in Cornwall.
Telling your craft story with Dr Anna Ploszajski – 25 November 2021, 7pm
Join Dr Anna Ploszajski for an online workshop on writing about your craft, exclusively for Heritage Crafts members. Whether you are writing copy for your website or social media posts, writing training materials or writing a book about your craft, have you ever suspected that people might not be as engaged by your writing style as you’d like them to be? In this one-off workshop, Anna will give you some valuable tools to create compelling stories about your work and make you and your craft more memorable, understandable and engaging. She’ll cover how to structure like a storyteller, how to create compelling worlds and characters (even in formal writing), and how to use language succinctly and engagingly to make your message pitch-perfect for any future audience..
Heritage Crafts Wales members Zoom meeting – date to be confirmed
Peer support and networking meeting facilitated by Daniel Carpenter, Mary Lewis and Clare Revera exclusively for Heritage Crafts members. If you’re a current member in Wales and wish to attend, email us for the joining instructions. If you’re not yet a member, please consider joining.
Heritage Crafts Northern Ireland members Zoom meeting – date to be confirmed
Peer support and networking meeting facilitated by Daniel Carpenter and Emma Whitehead exclusively for Heritage Crafts members. If you’re a current member in Northern Ireland and wish to attend, email us for the joining instructions. If you’re not yet a member, please consider joining.
Heritage Crafts East Midlands members Zoom meeting – date to be confirmed
Peer support and networking meeting facilitated by Daniel Carpenter and Sally Morgan exclusively for Heritage Crafts members. If you’re a current member in the East Midlands and wish to attend, email us for the joining instructions. If you’re not yet a member, please consider joining.
Heritage Crafts North of England members Zoom meeting – date to be confirmed
Peer support and networking meeting facilitated by Daniel Carpenter and Chrissie Freeth exclusively for Heritage Crafts members. If you’re a current member in the North of England and wish to attend, email us for the joining instructions. If you’re not yet a member, please consider joining.
Heritage Crafts South West of England members Zoom meeting – date to be confirmed
Peer support and networking meeting facilitated by Daniel Carpenter exclusively for Heritage Crafts members. If you’re a current member in the South West of England and wish to attend, email us for the joining instructions. If you’re not yet a member, please consider joining.
Heritage Crafts West Midlands & Marches members Zoom meeting – date to be confirmed
Peer support and networking meeting facilitated by Mary Lewis and Mike Taylor exclusively for Heritage Crafts members. If you’re a current member in the West Midlands & Marches and wish to attend, email us for the joining instructions. If you’re not yet a member, please consider joining.
HCA Scotland members Zoom meeting – date to be confirmed
Peer support and networking meeting facilitated by Daniel Carpenter, Mary Lewis, Louise Butler and Helen Voce exclusively for HCA members. If you’re a current member in Scotland and wish to attend, email us for the joining instructions. If you’re not yet a member, please consider joining.
Click here to watch the recordings of previous online events
Catherine Ade, lithographer. Photo copyright Jo Hounsome.
A lithographer, a wallpaper maker and an oak bark tanner are among the recipients of the latest round of grants awarded to help safeguard some of the UK’s most endangered craft skills.
The Heritage Crafts Association (HCA), which published the third edition of its groundbreaking HCA Red List of Endangered Crafts in May, has awarded a further eight grants from its Endangered Crafts Fund, which was launched in 2019 to increase the likelihood of endangered crafts surviving into the next generation.
This round of the HCA Endangered Crafts Fund has been offered with support from the Garfield Weston Foundation, the Dulverton Trust, the Sussex Heritage Trust, Allchurches Trust and the Swire Charitable Trust. The eight successful recipients are:
- Catherine Ade, from Bristol, to run a series of workshops on different lithography techniques and continue to supply lithography plate graining services.
- Peter Ananin, from Fife, to train an apprentice in the skills and knowledge of traditional Scottish bark tanning.
- Deborah Bowness, from East Sussex, to learn traditional wallpaper making techniques through one-to-one training with a wallpaper conservationist.
- Rachel Evans, from Stoke-on-Trent, to learn the techniques of hazel basketmaking, specifically the Gower cockle basket and the whisket.
- Nikki Laird, from Edinburgh, to print a book on how to make a traditional hand sewn kilt.
- Kate Longley, from Cornwall, to maintain the skills and knowledge of withy crab and lobster pot making in the community of Gorran Haven.
- Steven Lowe, from East Sussex, to provide shoe last making courses covering heel making.
- Edie Obilaso, from London, to make hats from straw plait produced on an antique machine, and to document the craft.
Peter Ananin, oak bark tanner. Photo copyright Woodland Tannery.
These eight projects follow 27 awarded in previous rounds, covering endangered crafts such as scissor making, sail making, damask weaving, boot tree making, cockle basket making, folding knife making, neon bending, coracle making, fan making and swill basket making, coppersmithing, withy pot making, disappearing fore-edge painting, plane making, kishie basket making, flint walling, brick making, chair seating, lipwork basketry, paper making, concertina making and flute making.
As usual the fund was oversubscribed, and the HCA hopes to work with many of the unsuccessful candidates to identify other funding and support opportunities.
HCA Endangered Crafts Manager Mary Lewis said:
“For all the progress we’ve made, it will take more than just the Heritage Crafts Association to save craft skills; it will be the people who make a positive choice to learn, make and teach an endangered craft who will do that. These projects will provide future generations with opportunities that they might not otherwise have, to become productive and healthy members of our shared craft community.”
The Endangered Crafts Fund has been funded through generous donations from organisations including Garfield Weston Foundation, the Dulverton Trust, the Sussex Heritage Trust, as well as individuals who have donated sums from £5 right up to several thousands of pounds.
The HCA continues to seek further donations to save even more of Britain’s most endangered crafts from oblivion. Donations are welcome at any time – for more information visit www.heritagecrafts.org.uk/ecf.
See the projects that were successfully funded in the previous application rounds
Craig and Rebecca Struthers. Photo by Richard Ivey.
Birmingham-based watchmaker Rebecca Struthers has won the 2021 HCA President’s Award for Endangered Crafts. The prestigious award, and £3,000 bursary, was initiated by Heritage Crafts Association President HRH The Prince of Wales.
The HCA was set up 11 years ago as a national charity to support and safeguard heritage crafts skills, and has become well known for its Red List of Endangered Crafts, the first research of its kind to rank traditional crafts in the UK by the likelihood they would survive the next generation.
The President’s Award trophy was presented to Dr Struthers at a special presentation on Friday 10 September 2021, hosted by The Prince’s Foundation, one of the country’s major providers of training in traditional building skills. The Prince of Wales was in attendance at the presentation, which also saw a trophy awarded to 2020 winners, Paul Jacobs and Jonathan Reid from Ernest Wright Scissors, whose presentation was unable to proceed last year due to COVID restrictions.
HCA President’s Award
Between 1630 and 1890, England was the centre of global watchmaking, home to many of the world’s most celebrated watchmakers. By 1793, twenty thousand London watchmakers were part of the city’s population of one million inhabitants, representing around one fiftieth of the population. Today watchmaking is listed as critically endangered on the HCA Red List of Endangered Crafts.
Dr Rebecca Struthers is Director and watchmaker of a traditional watchmaking workshop and studio in Birmingham alongside husband and fellow master watchmaker Craig. They use traditional methods, materials and techniques in the restoration of vintage and antique watches as well as the production of her own timepieces. She is the first, and currently only, watchmaker in the UK to earn a PhD in horology.
Award winners with HRH The Prince of Wales. Photo by Richard Ivey.
Dr Struthers is a Fellow of the British Horological Institute and Royal Society of Arts, a Trustee of the Museum of Timekeeping in Newark, and a Jury Member of the Academy, Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève. She has received over a dozen awards over the years for her craft, design, entrepreneurship and research, and her work has appeared in a range of media including the BBC, New York Times and Wall Street Journal. She is currently writing a non-fiction book for Hodder & Stoughton on the history of time, told through watches, and the way in which they have influenced societies and cultures around the world.
Dr Struthers plans to use the prize to create a free-to-use educational website for anyone with an interest in learning the art of watchmaking. It would list training opportunities and facilities, and allow people to share projects they are currently working on and seek advice and feedback from a watchmaking community. It would also share useful technical information and charts, articles, a reference library and short videos on her own techniques for others to learn from.
Winner Dr Rebecca Struthers said:
“As independent makers the high costs of training a full-time apprentice means that even if it were possible, the apprentice’s pay would be so low that it would be prohibitive to people from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds. The President’s Award has provided us with the foundation to start something we hope will help to break down these boundaries and allow us to share what we do for free, in a manageable way for us. To have such a prestigious beginning for this project is an invaluable start!”
HCA Chair Patricia Lovett MBE said:
“Many people know HRH The Prince of Wales as being a long-time supporter and champion of traditional craft skills, and his passion is all too evident through initiatives such as the HCA President’s Award and The Prince’s Foundation. Dr Struthers and Ernest Wright Scissors are immensely deserving winners and we know that in their hands the prizes will provide a massive boost to the outlook of these critically endangered crafts.”
Jonathan Reid and Paul Jacobs from Ernest Wright Scissors. Photo by Richard Ivey.
2020 winner Ernest Wright scissor makers was founded in 1902 and reflects everything Sheffield has become famous for – highly skilled craftspeople making supreme quality products.
Following a tragedy in 2018, the company went into receivership and the critically endangered craft of scissor making was on the verge of disappearing from Sheffield. Paul Jacobs and Jan Bart Fanoy took action and bought the company, re-hired the remaining master putter-togetherers, Cliff Denton and Eric Stones, and took on several ‘putters’ in training. The factory is now back in action, with the prize used to repair machinery so that their putter-in-training can learn the craft from Cliff and Eric.
Click here to see details of this year’s finalists, including hat plaiter Veronica Main and wallpaper maker Hugh Dunford-Wood.
Click here to read more about the President’s Award trophies.
Barometer making at O Comitti & Son Ltd, a critically endangered craft
New research by the Heritage Crafts Association has unearthed more traditional craft skills on the verge of extinction in the UK, in the latest major update of its pioneering project, the HCA Red List of Endangered Crafts.
The research, which has been funded by The Pilgrim Trust, has found that COVID-19 has only exacerbated the issues faced by our most at-risk skills, after a year that has seen many craftspeople pushed to the brink.
20 new crafts have been added to the ‘critically endangered’ category of the HCA Red List, meaning that they are at serious risk of dying out in the next generation, including diamond cutting, mouth-blown sheet glass making, pointe shoe making and glass eye making. They join the list of 130 endangered crafts, including eight that have been reclassified as being at a higher level of risk than when the research was last updated in 2019.
Kiltmaking at The Kiltmakery, an endangered craft
Critically endangered crafts include those with very few practitioners, few (if any) trainees and a lack of viable training routes by which the skills can be passed on. Often they serve very niche markets, and craftspeople cannot afford to step away from production to train their successors for fear those markets will disappear.
It’s not all bad news, however, as no new crafts have become extinct in the past two years, and some, such as gilding and pole-lathe bowl turning, have seen an upturn in their fortunes. In many cases this has been as a result of a new-found appreciation of the handmade and the need to support small businesses during the pandemic. In others it has been due to direct support from the Heritage Crafts Association, which since the publication of the last edition of the HCA Red List has distributed 27 grants of up to £2,000 each as part of its Endangered Crafts Fund.
Mary Lewis, who led the research on behalf of the Heritage Crafts Association, said:
“COVID-19 has been tough on everyone, not least the craftspeople who possess our most fundamental craft skills. Society is rapidly changing around us, and it is more important than ever that we are aware of the cultural assets still available to us, so that we can have an informed debate about what we want to safeguard as a resource for the future. If we allow endangered crafts to disappear then we seriously diminish the opportunities for future generations to create their own sustainable and fulfilling livelihoods, based on these skills.”
Whilst the UK has been a world-leader in the preservation of tangible heritage (museum collections, buildings and monuments), it has fallen behind the rest of the world when it comes to the safeguarding of intangible heritage (knowledge, skills and practices). Of 193 UNESCO members, the UK is one of just 13 that have not yet ratified the 2003 Convention on the Safeguarding of Intangible Heritage, and government responsibility for heritage crafts falls in the gap between agencies set up to support arts and heritage.
Sue Bowers, Director of The Pilgrim Trust, said:
“We are delighted to support the continuing development of the Red List which is so important in tracking the state of heritage crafts in the UK and creating the platform for discussions about how we can bring about positive change in the future.”
The HCA Red List of Endangered Crafts 2021 edition is available to view online at http://redlist.heritagecrafts.org.uk.
About the HCA Red List of Endangered Crafts
The 2021 edition of the HCA Red List of Endangered Crafts was led by Mary Lewis, HCA Endangered Crafts Manager, supported by The Pilgrim Trust. The project runs alongside Mary’s work in identifying and developing interventions to improve the prospects of such crafts, funded by The Swire Charitable Trust, The Garfield Weston Foundation and The Dulverton Trust.
For the 2021 edition, 244 crafts have been assessed to identify those which are at greatest risk of disappearing. Of the 134 crafts featured on the Red List, four have been classified as extinct, 56 as critically endangered and 74 as endangered. The remaining 110 are classed as currently viable.
Drawing on information such as the current number of craftspeople and trainees, the average age of practitioners, opportunities to learn, and other issues affecting the future of the crafts, including the impact of COVID-19, the research assesses how likely it is that the craft skills will be passed on to the next generation. From armour making and arrowsmithing to wig making and woodturning, each has been assigned to one of four categories: extinct, critically endangered, endangered or currently viable.
Four crafts are known to have become extinct in the UK in the last fifteen years (cricket ball making, gold beating, lacrosse stick making, and paper mould and deckle making) with one more (sieve and riddle making) brought back from extinction.
New crafts for 2021
New critically endangered crafts (crafts classified as ‘critically endangered’ are those at serious risk of no longer being practised in the UK. They may include crafts with a shrinking base of craftspeople, crafts with limited training opportunities, crafts with low financial viability, or crafts where there is no mechanism to pass on the skills and knowledge.)
- Barometer making
- Bowed-felt hat making
- Brilliant cutting
- Coiled straw basket making
- Compass making
- Copper wheel engraving
- Currach making
- Diamond cutting
- Fabric pleating
- Frame knitting
- Glass eye making
- Hazel basket making
- Highlands and Islands thatching
- Horsehair weaving
- Mouth-blown sheet glass making
- Pointe shoe making
- Shetland lace knitting
- Silver spinning
- Sporran making
- Wooden fishing net making
New endangered crafts (Crafts classified as ‘endangered’ are those which currently have sufficient craftspeople to transmit the craft skills to the next generation, but for which there are serious concerns about their ongoing viability. This may include crafts with a shrinking market share, an ageing demographic or crafts with a declining number of practitioners.)
- Hat making
- Kilt making
- Skeined willow working
- Sofrut calligraphy
- Spectacle making
- Type founding and manufacture
About the Endangered Crafts Fund
The Heritage Crafts Association’s Endangered Crafts Fund was set up in 2019 to ensure that the most at-risk heritage crafts within the UK are given the support they need to thrive. The Fund is used to support makers and trainees who wish to develop or share their skills in the crafts that have been identified as being most at risk.
To date, 27 projects have been funded with support from the Garfield Weston Foundation, the Dulverton Trust, the Sussex Heritage Trust, Allchurches Trust, the Radcliffe Trust and the Swire Charitable Trust.
Anyone wishing to donate to the fund may do so securely online. Alternatively, please send a cheque made payable to ‘Heritage Crafts Association’ with an accompanying note specifying ‘Endangered Crafts Fund’ to: Heritage Crafts Association, 27 South Road, Oundle, Peterborough PE8 4BU.
About the Pilgrim Trust
The Pilgrim Trust is an independent grantmaking trust that supports the urgent and future needs of the UK. It gives approximately £3 million in grants per year to charities and other public bodies that either focus on preserving the UK’s heritage or catalysing social change. Its preservation and scholarship fund aims to preserve the fabric of historically important buildings and to conserve significant collections and artefacts. It wants present and future generations to enjoy the rich and diverse heritage found throughout the UK.
Plaster worker Geoffrey Preston, basket maker Hilary Burns, and coppice worker Rebecca Oaks have been awarded MBEs in the Queen’s Birthday Honours 2021, in recognition of their unparalleled craftsmanship and tireless work in ensuring their skills are passed on to current and future generations.
The three were nominated by the Heritage Crafts Association for this year’s Birthday Honours, following 20 previously successful nominations since 2013. Last month, the charitable organisation – which was set up in 2009 to support and champion traditional craft skills – published the latest edition of its groundbreaking HCA Red List of Endangered Crafts, the first report of its kind to rank craft skills by the likelihood they will survive into the next generation.
Geoffrey Preston MBE spearheaded the reintroduction of the endangered craft of stucco to the UK, a style of pargeting whereby designs are moulded directly onto a wall or ceiling, and is categorised as endangered on the HCA Red List of Endangered Crafts.
He has been a sculptor and decorative plaster worker for fifty years, after being apprenticed as a stonemason in London, working as a carver on the West Front of Exeter Cathedral in the 1980s, and being trained in modelling under Professor Robert Baker. Francis Terry, one of the UK’s leading classical architects, called him: “England’s best modeller of architectural detail in stucco and moulded plaster”.
HCA Maker of the Year 2018 and Yeoman of the Worshipful Company of Basketmakers, Hilary Burns MBE is a craftswoman, teacher, writer, researcher and advocate with a passion for passing on her skills. Working with humble materials, she produces stunning functional and sculptural pieces inspired by her study of traditional basketry techniques.
An instigator of the largest international basketmaking conference held in the UK in 2013, Hilary has continued to promote the craft globally, with her own work exhibited in New York and Japan, as well as organising skills exchanges to countries such as the Azores and Cyprus.
Rebecca Oaks MBE is the founder and driving force behind the Bill Hogarth Memorial Apprenticeship Trust, set up in 2001 in honour of her mentor, to provide training in sustainable woodland management that benefits biodiversity and wider society. She developed a structured three-year apprenticeship that has awarded diplomas to 18 apprentices, most of whom now run their own coppice craft businesses.
Rebecca went on to develop a partnership with the Small Woods Association to run the National Coppice Apprenticeship Scheme, and was a founder director of the National Coppice Federation, which gives a national, unified voice to regional coppice groups.
HCA Operations Director Daniel Carpenter said:
“We are extremely delighted that Geoffrey, Hilary and Rebecca have been recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours. Having traditional craftspeople up there with other great luminaries of public life in this way is vitally important, as unlike countries such as Japan and Korea we have no Living National Treasures scheme to celebrate master craftspeople, and the UK is one of only 13 of the 193 UNESCO member states yet to ratify the 2003 Convention on the Safeguarding of Intangible Heritage.”
The Heritage Crafts Association encourages anyone who supports the continuation of traditional craft skills, whether or not they are makers themselves, to become members. The charity has set up an Endangered Crafts Fund to provide small grants to projects that increase the likelihood of endangered craft skills surviving into the next generation, and is currently seeking donations to save more of Britain’s most endangered crafts from oblivion – visit www.heritagecrafts.org.uk/ecf to find out more and to donate.
Monica Cass weaving a ‘tau tray’ using skeined willow in Norfolk. Photo copyright Katherine Mager.
A chair seater, a concertina maker and a brick and tile maker are among the recipients of the latest round of grants awarded to help safeguard some of the UK’s most endangered craft skills.
The Heritage Crafts Association, which is due to publish the third edition of its groundbreaking HCA Red List of Endangered Crafts in May, has awarded a further nine grants from its Endangered Crafts Fund, which was launched in 2019 to increase the likelihood of endangered crafts surviving into the next generation.
This round of the HCA Endangered Crafts Fund has been offered with support from the Garfield Weston Foundation, the Dulverton Trust, the Sussex Heritage Trust, Allchurches Trust, the Radcliffe Trust and the Swire Charitable Trust. The nine successful recipients are:
- Duncan Berry, from West Sussex, to buy tools to enable him to pass on his skills as a flint waller.
- Ben Bosence, from East Sussex, to develop and make bricks and tiles from waste clay that has been excavated locally.
- Monica Cass, from Norwich, to train a chair seat weaver in skeined willow techniques, and document the process.
- Collette Davies, from Monmouth, to help revive the craft of lipwork straw basketry.
- Tom Frith-Powell, from Cumbria, to develop a gelatine sized paper as part of his commercial handmade papermaking charity.
- Bob Green, from Brighton, to buy tools to enable him to develop and pass on his skills as a flint waller.
- Jake Middleton-Metcalf, from Buckinghamshire, to be trained in making the critical working components of the English system concertina.
- Tony Millyard, from Northamptonshire, to pass on flute making skills and to develop a new model of flute.
- Dominic Parrette, from East Sussex, to build shave horses to allow him to teach trainees how to make Sussex trug and Devon stave baskets.
A hand made Anglo-German Concertina by Jake Middleton-Metcalfe. Photo copyright Jake Middleton-Metcalfe.
These nine projects follow 18 awarded in previous rounds, covering endangered crafts such as scissor making, sail making, damask weaving, boot tree making, cockle basket making, folding knife making, neon bending, coracle making, fan making and swill basket making, coppersmithing, withy pot making, disappearing fore-edge painting, plane making and kishie basket making.
As usual the fund was 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:
“The impact of COVID-19 in the last twelve months has only compounded the pressures on those at-risk craft skills that were already on the verge of being lost, but have so much to offer a post-COVID future, as productive and fulfilling ways to rebuild a sustainable economy. These projects will realise some of that potential.”
The Endangered Crafts Fund has been funded through generous donations from organisations including Garfield Weston Foundation, the Dulverton Trust, the Sussex Heritage Trust, Allchurches Trust, the Radcliffe Trust, as well as individuals who have donated sums from £5 right up to several thousands of pounds. The forthcoming 2021 edition of the HCA Red List of Endangered Crafts is funded by the Pilgrim Trust.
The HCA continues to seek further donations to save even more of Britain’s most endangered crafts from oblivion. Donations are welcome at any time.