Eight more grants awarded to help save endangered crafts

Apprentice sailmaker Matt. Photo copyright Ratsey & Lapthorne.

An apprentice sail maker, boot tree maker and folding knife 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 (HCA), which last year published the second edition of its groundbreaking HCA Red List of Endangered Crafts, has awarded a further eight grants from its Endangered Crafts Fund, which was launched in July 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 Allchurches Trust and The Radcliffe Trust. The eight successful recipients are:

  • Ratsey & Lapthorne – to train an apprentice sail maker to craftsman level while making sails for a historic yacht (Isle of Wight).
  • Horace Batten – to train an apprentice boot tree maker who will go on to work in-house at the boot making firm (Northamptonshire).
  • Michael May – to equip his folding knife making apprentice with the tools he needs to learn all aspects of the trade (Sheffield).
  • Justine Burgess – to train in Teifi and Tywi coracle making so that she can pass on the skills to others (Carmarthen).
  • Eve Eunson – to record the skills of Fair Isle straw back chair making in a film that can be used to train others (Shetland).
  • Coates Willow – to forge new tools for an apprentice working with one of the last practicing basketwork furniture makers (Somerset).
  • Tom Boulton – to do a feasibility study into creating new wooden type for letterpress printing using CNC machining (West Sussex).
  • Lorna Singleton – to buy a boiler and swiller’s mares (a special type of shave horse) to enable her to teach oak swill basket making to small groups (Cumbria).
Oak swill basket - Photo copyright Lorna Singleton copy

Oak swill basket. Photo copyright Lorna Singleton.

These eight projects follow five awarded in the previous round, covering the endangered crafts of scissor making, damask weaving, cockle basket making, neon bending and fan making. Again the fund was massively 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:

“When we first published the HCA Red List of Endangered Crafts the task of safeguarding so many at-risk skills seemed overwhelming. Thanks to the support of our donors and funders like Allchurches Trust and The Radcliffe Trust we now have thirteen projects underway, but there is still so much to do to ensure that future generations can continue to benefit from this important part of our culture.”

The Endangered Crafts Fund has been set up thanks to a number of generous donations from organisations including Allchurches Trust and The Radcliffe Trust, as well as individuals, who have donated sums from £5 right up to several thousands of pounds.

Paul Playford, who heads up the heritage grants programme at Allchurches Trust, said:

“It’s fascinating to see the wide range of endangered craftspeople and places that are represented in the latest Endangered Crafts Fund cohort, and we’re proud that our funding will help ensure that these at-risk crafts can be handed down, along with the tools and training needed to enable their protection in the longer term. We’re looking forward to hearing more from these skilled craftspeople as they develop their skills and hope to play our part in telling their story, raising awareness of ancient practices that are so important to preserve for future generations and hopefully inspiring others to follow their lead.”

The HCA has also announced that its President HRH The Prince of Wales has established a new award for endangered crafts. Each year the President’s Award for Endangered Crafts will present £3,000 to a heritage craftsperson who will use the funding to ensure that craft skills are passed on. The Award will be presented at a special reception at Dumfries House, home of The Prince’s Foundation, as well as at a prestigious winners’ reception at the Houses of Parliament. Applications are invited via www.heritagecrafts.org.uk/presidentsaward by Friday 1 May 2020.

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. Applications for grants are accepted on a rolling basis, with the next deadline for consideration 30 September 2020.

President’s Award for Endangered Crafts

President’s Award for Endangered Crafts

HRH The Prince of Wales has established a new award for endangered crafts through his patronage of the Heritage Crafts Association. Each year the President’s Award for Endangered Crafts will present £3,000 to a heritage craftsperson who will use the funding to ensure that craft skills are passed on to the future.

The Heritage Crafts Association (HCA) published the latest edition of its groundbreaking HCA Red List of Endangered Crafts last year, which revealed that there are 107 endangered crafts in the UK. Crafts deemed critically endangered range from bell founding and damask weaving to orrery making and reverse glass sign painting. Other endangered crafts include a number of musical instrument making crafts, including brass, woodwind and percussion instruments, harps and Northumbrian pipes.

Applicants for the President’s Award are invited to submit proposals to help secure the survival of their craft, which must be listed as ‘endangered’ or ‘critically endangered’ on the 2019 edition of the HCA Red List of Endangered Crafts.

The President’s Award will be presented at a special reception at Dumfries House, home of The Prince’s Foundation, as well as at a prestigious winners’ reception at the Houses of Parliament.

The Award judges are renowned advocates of craft skills:

  • Patrick Grant, BBC The Great British Sewing Bee, Director of Norton and Sons and Community Clothing;
  • Mark Hedges, Editor of Country Life;
  • Kate Hobhouse, Chair of Fortnum and Mason;
  • Patricia Lovett MBE, Chair of the Heritage Crafts Association; and
  • Simon Sadinsky, Deputy Director of The Prince’s Foundation.

Patrick GrantMark HedgesKate HobhousePatricia Lovett MBESimon Sadinsky

HCA Chair Patricia Lovett said:

“The UK has a hugely rich cultural heritage of craft skills which can be regarded as important as our great historical buildings and treasured objects – all the result of great craftsmanship. However we are in danger of losing a number of these crafts where our research has found that in some cases there are only one or two makers left. The Heritage Crafts Association hopes that by focusing on endangered crafts with this wonderful award initiated by our President, The Prince of Wales, the craft skills will be passed on to future generations.”

Applications are invited from those practising a craft listed as ‘endangered’ or ‘critically endangered’ on the 2019 edition of the HCA Red List of Endangered Crafts. Applicants must explain how they will use the £3,000 award to help secure the survival of their craft.

The closing date for applications is Friday 17 April 2020 at 5pm. Shortlisted applicants will be expected to attend the Awards Ceremony at the Houses of Parliament on Tuesday 17 November 2020, 4pm to 6pm, so please ensure that you can attend before submitting an application. The winner will also be expected to attend the presentation at Dumfries House, Ayrshire, Scotland, in September 2020 (date to be confirmed).

Click here to download the application form including further instructions

HCA joins forces with the Michelangelo Foundation to bring the Red List to Europe

Launch of the partnership between the HCA and the Michelangelo FoundationThe Heritage Crafts Association is delighted to announce a partnership with the Michelangelo Foundation for Creativity and Craftsmanship to bring the HCA Red List of Endangered Crafts to a European level.

The new partnership launched with a presentation at Somerset House on 28 February 2020. Alberto Cavalli (Co-Executive Director of the Michelangelo Foundation) and Patricia Lovett MBE (Chair of Heritage Crafts Association) introduced the partnership, followed by a panel discussion moderated by Oliver Stratford (Editor-in-chief of Designo) exploring different perspectives regarding endangered crafts and their place in contemporary craftsmanship. The panel is composed of Daniel Carpenter (Red List Research Manager at the Heritage Crafts Association), Rosy Greenlees (Executive Director of the Crafts Council), Kate Hetherington (collar and harness maker) and Mark Webb (Fundraising and Development Manager at The Prince’s Foundation).

The partnership between the two organisations aims to build collective awareness of the threats facing traditional heritage craftsmanship and to seek new and innovative ways to usher endangered crafts safely into the future, ensuring the continuity of practices and the adaptation of crafts to meet contemporary demands.

Somerset HouseTo celebrate the partnership the Michelangelo Foundation commissioned three short films by Swiss film maker Thibault Vallotton that highlight three British singular talents who are pursuing crafts in the UK that are classified as endangered. The films give an intimate insight into the worlds of these treasured British artisanal talents who are striving to uphold their cherished skills.

The featured craftspeople were:

  • Kate Hetherington, collar and harness maker
  • Derek and Timothy Staines, orrery maker
  • David Adrian Smith MBE, reverse glass sign maker

One of the films is part of a new series, featuring 12 exceptional craftspeople from across all of Europe which will be unveiled in an exhibition entitled Singular Talents – The Red List at the second edition of Homo Faber, the crafts biennalé being held in Venice this autumn.  The specially commissioned films draw back the curtain on these master artisans and their unique or rare professions.

The HCA Red List of Endangered Crafts provides a vital research methodology, identifying and classifying endangered crafts in the United Kingdom. It assesses the viability of such crafts and categorises those most at risk of disappearing. The Michelangelo Foundation, inspired by the grassroots-led bottom-up research methodology of the Heritage Crafts Association will enlist its wide network of European members to extend the HCA Red List of Endangered Crafts to a European level.

By drawing on the expertise of organisations involved in their specific local communities, the Foundation hopes the initiative has a far-reaching impact, successfully identifying and classifying endangered crafts across Europe. In turn, this facilitates the mapping of European crafts considered to be at risk of disappearing.

 

Trainee sought to help secure the endangered craft of boot tree making

Boot treeHorace Batten Bootmakers in Northamptonshire is currently seeking a trainee boot tree maker to help secure the future of its business, whilst at the same time safeguarding an endangered craft skill.

The making of lasts and trees (wooden formers around which shoes and boots are made and stored) has been listed as endangered on the Heritage Crafts Association’s groundbreaking HCA Red List of Endangered Crafts, the second edition of which was published last year. The Red List is the first research of its kind to rank the UK’s traditional crafts by the likelihood that they will survive into the next generation.

Horace Batten Bootmakers has been making traditional riding and fashion boots since 1804. Its skilled workforce operates from a workshop in rural Northamptonshire, the home of quality boot and shoe making for centuries. This traineeship will provide a rare and unique opportunity for the successful candidate to learn from an expert in the field of wooden tree making, eventually taking on a bulk of this work for the company.

Applications are invited from people who aspire to a high level of skill in woodworking. Experience in last or model making and an understanding of shoe and boot making are also desirable. The trainee is required for an immediate start for three days per week, with a view to it becoming a full time position and lifelong career following successful training.

For more information about the traineeship, email HCA Endangered Crafts Officer Mary Lewis at mary@heritagecrafts.org.uk.

Download the press release

Metal thread making business for sale

William Kentish BarnesThe Golden Threads workshop in East Sussex, one of only two remaining UK producers of metal threads for embroidery, is currently up for sale as a going concern, as owners William and Diana Kentish Barnes plan to retire.

Metal thread making, which is used extensively in military dress uniforms, as well as church altar frontals and vestments, has been listed as ‘critically endangered’ on the Heritage Crafts Association’s groundbreaking HCA Red List of Endangered Crafts since 2017. The Red List is the first research of its kind to rank the UK’s traditional crafts by the likelihood that they will survive into the next generation.

Golden Threads, which is described by the current owners as thriving, has a worldwide customer base and potential for growth. The successful purchaser will be provided with training in the craft of metal thread making and receive ongoing support from the current owners in an advisory capacity.

For more information about the sale, email HCA Endangered Crafts Officer Mary Lewis at mary@heritagecrafts.org.uk.

Download the press release

Three MBEs awarded to heritage craftspeople

Three of the best heritage craftspeople from across the UK have been awarded MBEs in the New Year Honours List 2020, 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 in this year’s New Year Honours, following 16 previously successful nominations since 2013. Earlier this year, the charitable organisation – which was set up ten years ago 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 endangered craft skills by the likelihood they will survive into the next generation.

The three recipients of the MBE are:

  • David A SmithDavid A Smith MBE, for services to reverse glass ornamental artistry – David, from Torquay in Devon, is world-renowned for his high quality reverse glass lettering and artistry – which encompasses all the skills historically done by an array of craftspeople, including design, lettering, acid etching, brilliant cutting, silvering and angel gilding – having revived many of these skills from the point of extinction in the UK. He has had many high-profile commissions in the UK and abroad, including John Meyer, Sony Music, the Victoria & Albert Museum and Disney.
  • Wendy Shorter-Blake demonstrating at the Ideal Home showWendy Shorter-Blake MBE, for services to upholstery – Wendy, from Welwyn Garden City in Hertfordshire, is not only a highly skilled craftswoman herself but she has devoted her life to ensuring that the skills of upholstery are passed on. Over the last 13 years she has set up a multi-award winning training centre providing the very best possible standards of teaching based on her meticulous research of traditional techniques and the history of furniture. Wendy has also worked closely with the charity Fine Cell Work which offers craft training within prison and ongoing support and training for ex-offenders. In 2020 she will become the third female Master of the Worshipful Company of Upholders.
  • Brian Crossley teachingBrian Crossley MBE, for services to chair caning – Brian, from Tattenhall in Cheshire, has been involved in the endangered craft of chair caning for over 50 years – initially in his spare time, and now full time – having been taught by his mother. He has devoted himself to perfecting and passing on the skills, and is now one of the most revered practitioners in the world, regarded as an expert and ambassador in his field. Brian’s previous career was in civil engineering, and he has provided decades of mentoring and developing others through the Institution of Civil Engineers. He has also been awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Bolton for his outstanding contribution to the field of construction.

HCA Chair Patricia Lovett MBE said:

“While countries like Japan and Korea have National Living Treasures schemes to celebrate master craftspeople, the UK as yet has no equivalent way of recognising our most highly skilled makers – and is one of only 15 of the 193 UNESCO member states yet to ratify the 2003 Convention on the Safeguarding of Intangible Heritage. We are delighted therefore that these talented individuals, who give so much of themselves to ensure that their crafts continue, have been recognised through the honours system, putting traditional craftspeople up there with other great luminaries of public life.”

The HCA encourages anyone who supports the continuation of traditional craft skills, whether or not they are makers themselves, to become HCA members. It 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 – www.heritagecrafts.org.uk/ecf.

Press releases:

 

More details about each recipient

 

David A Smith MBE, for services to reverse glass ornamental artistry

David, from Torquay in Devon, is world-renowned for his high quality reverse glass lettering and artistry – which encompasses all the skills historically done by an array of craftspeople, including design, lettering, acid etching, brilliant cutting, silvering and angel gilding – having revived many of these skills from the point of extinction in the UK. He has had many high-profile commissions in the UK and abroad, including John Meyer, Sony Music, the Victoria & Albert Museum and Disney.

David has taught over 800 students (500 from abroad) and is the only practitioner able to teach such a broad range of skills, hence his craft being categorised as critically endangered in the HCA Red List of Endangered Crafts. Many hundreds of students have been able to benefit directly from the classes he teaches, both in his studio and in other countries. Many thousands more benefit from his regular online presence, where he shows examples of his work in process and gives pointers, advice and, most of all, provides encouragement to students and design enthusiasts worldwide.

David’s knowledge is extensive, and yet he still seeks out obscure processes from days gone by to enrich his craft and pass the information on to others, inspiring a new generation to the value of craftsmanship and artistry.

Wendy Shorter-Blake MBE, for services to upholstery

Wendy, from Welwyn Garden City in Hertfordshire, is not only a highly skilled craftswoman herself but she has devoted her life to ensuring that the skills of upholstery are passed on. Over the last 13 years she has set up a multi-award winning training centre providing the very best possible standards of teaching based on her meticulous research of traditional techniques and the history of furniture.

Wendy was appointed Director of Training (a voluntary position) for the Association of Master Upholsterers and Soft Furnishers (AMUSF) in 2008, putting her at the forefront of training provision and development of the Association’s qualification standards. In the last three years she has developed those standards into the current Diploma course, thus ensuring that hundreds of students can attain the highest level of qualification in the craft. She promoted a schools programme where sixth-formers from local schools were given the opportunity to train for an upholstery qualification, and personally sponsored one school leaver for more advanced training.

Wendy has also worked closely with the charity Fine Cell Work which offers craft training within prison and ongoing support and training for ex-offenders. In 2020 she will become the third female Master of the Worshipful Company of Upholders.

Brian Crossley MBE, for services to chair caning

Brian, from Tattenhall in Cheshire, has been involved in the endangered craft of chair caning for over 50 years – initially in his spare time, and now full time – having been taught by his mother. He has devoted himself to perfecting and passing on the skills, and is now one of the most revered practitioners in the world, regarded as an expert and ambassador in his field. He is the go-to craftsman for prestigious museums and antique collectors to repair and re-cane their furniture, including the Ruskin Museum where he re-caned John Ruskin’s very own high chair.

Brian was a founder Trustee of the Heritage Crafts Association nine years ago, and its first Secretary, setting up the Association such that it had sound governance and a solid foundation for the future. He is a strong advocate for craft, being a great ambassador for both chair caning and heritage crafts in general. His unique skills as a maker, teacher and researcher have been recognised by the Worshipful Company of Basketmakers, of which he is a Yeoman.

Brian’s previous career was in civil engineering, and he has provided decades of mentoring and developing others through the Institution of Civil Engineers. He rose from Chair of a regional committee to eventually Vice President of the Institution for four years, responsible for standards of civil engineering in many countries. From 2002 to 2013 he volunteered for the Historical Engineering Group, researching and preserving unique past engineering works. In 2001 he won the Garth Watson medal, the highest award for service to the Institute. He has also been awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Bolton for his outstanding contribution to the field of construction.