Millwright training opportunity

MillwrightingDeadline: 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.

https://www.spab.org.uk/learning/fellowship

Five grants awarded to help save endangered crafts

Richard Wheater teaching the craft of neon bending.

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 mary@heritagecrafts.org.uk.

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.

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

Flutemaking trainee sought to avert craft extinction

Stephen Wessel

Stephen Wessel – photo by South West News Service

Deadline: 31 October 2019

The Heritage Crafts Association (HCA) has set out to save British flutemaking by seeking potential trainees interested in learning this intricate and highly-skilled craft from a retiring master.

Stephen Wessel from Somerset is currently believed to be the last full-time craftsperson in the UK making fully handmade Boehm system flutes.

Stephen’s impending retirement, after 35 years in the business, not only ends a long and illustrious career, but could signal the end of flutemaking in the UK – a proud tradition stretching back to the nineteenth century.

Even before news of Stephen’s retirement, the scarcity of British flute makers had led to the craft being reclassified as critically endangered in this year’s edition of the HCA Red List of Endangered Crafts.

As the organisation set up to safeguard traditional craft skills in the UK, the HCA has teamed up with Jonathan Myall (a lifelong flute enthusiast and owner of Just Flutes in South Croydon) who has offered to host and support a trainee while they learn the craft from Stephen.

The successful applicant will be keen to learn, will have a proven ability to solve technical problems, and is likely to have existing engineering skills (such as those gained from precision silversmithing, jewellery or model engineering) which will serve them well when learning to make the key mechanisms that create the beautiful even tone for which these flutes have become famous.

Stephen Wessel said:

“I started my working life as a research engineer. I didn’t care for it and left aged 26 to do my own thing… a good decision which I have never regretted, for I love making things and you can’t do much of that sitting in an office. Ours is still a great manufacturing nation and in my small way I feel proud to be part of it.”

For more details and application form, email Mary Lewis, HCA Endangered Crafts Officer, at mary@heritagecrafts.org.uk. Applicants should note that the traineeship is dependent on the HCA and Jonathan Myall sourcing additional funds once a suitable candidate has been identified.

New fund inundated with proposals to save endangered crafts

Zoe Collis, apprentice papermaker at Two Rivers Paper (photo by Alison Jane Hoare)

Zoe Collis, apprentice in the critically endangered craft of commercial handmade paper making. Photo by Alison Jane Hoare.

The Heritage Crafts Association (HCA), which earlier this year published the latest edition of its groundbreaking Red List of Endangered Crafts, has been overwhelmed with high-quality applications to its new Endangered Crafts Fund, launched on 1 July 2019.

So positive has been the response that the charity is now looking for additional donations to save even more of Britain’s most endangered crafts from oblivion.

Applications to the Endangered Crafts Fund include proposals for mentoring in marketing or business development, the provision of tools for trainees, and the creation of online educational resources to pass endangered skills on… all interventions that will help ensure that endangered crafts continue into the future.

The publication of the HCA Red List of Endangered Crafts in May 2017 showed that the heritage crafts knowledge, skills and practices that form an important part of our shared cultural heritage, are – for a number of reasons – at risk of being lost. The HCA believes that these cultural assets are as important as unique heritage buildings and ancient beautiful landscapes and could provide future generations with fantastic opportunities to enrich their lives and the lives of others.

HCA Endangered Crafts Officer Mary Lewis said:

“We are so grateful for the donations we have received up to this point, which will provide critical support for some of the interventions needed… but it isn’t enough. We need more funds to prevent as many endangered crafts as possible from becoming extinct in this generation”

Donations make a real difference, with both smaller and larger amounts ensuring that craft skills are supported for the future. The Heritage Crafts Association will publicise instances of where donations are spent and the difference it has made to the survival of endangered craft skills.

Click here to donate to the Endangered Crafts Fund. For more information about the fund, email HCA Endangered Crafts Officer Mary Lewis at mary@heritagecrafts.org.uk.