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Heritage Crafts and The Royal Mint launch new precious metal bursaries

The Royal MintThe Royal Mint and Heritage Crafts have announced four new bursaries for precious metal workers to preserve and champion traditional British craftsmanship skills, following the success of last year’s bursaries.

The four successful applicants of the 2024 bursary scheme will benefit from up to £4,000 in funding each, as well as one-to-one support from the staff at Heritage Crafts.

Silver box making by 2023 bursary recipient Iona Hall

Silver box making by 2023 recipient Iona Hall

The new bursaries follow five previous bursaries awarded in 2023 to early-career practitioners of precious metal crafts. In August the successful recipients visited The Royal Mint’s manufacturing base in South Wales for a special tour and to meet key craftspeople. Last year’s bursary recipients included Iona Hall, who has been training in silver box making with renowned silversmith Ray Walton. The others were silver spinners Claire Mooney and Caius Bearder, silversmith Emma-Jane Rule, and jewellery maker Rosie Elwood.

The UK has an incredible range of heritage craft skills, from basketmaking and boatbuilding to musical instrument making and stained glass, along with some of the finest craftspeople in the world. But many of these skills are in the hands of individuals who have been unable to pass them on, often due to limited training opportunities and the increasing burdens put upon small businesses, leaving a number of traditional British crafts under threat.

Silver box making by 2023 bursary recipient Iona Hall

Silver box making by 2023 recipient Iona Hall

The 2023 edition of the Red List of Endangered Crafts produced by Heritage Crafts showed that 62 crafts were classified as critically endangered and a further 84 as endangered. But it’s not all bad news; some crafts, such as gilding, have seen a resurgence thanks to support from Heritage Crafts and a heightened appreciation of the handmade among the general public.

The Royal Mint’s expertise in precious metals spans over a thousand years. Known as the home of precious metals, The Royal Mint offers products including gold, silver and platinum commemorative coins, bars for investment, and a digital gold saving option, backed by metal held in their vault. Last year they announced plans to build a factory to recover precious metals from electronic waste. Recovered precious metal is being used to create beautiful jewellery pieces in their latest business venture, 886 by The Royal Mint.

Anne Jessopp, CEO of The Royal Mint, said:

“The Royal Mint is an exemplar of British craftsmanship, and we believe we have a duty to promote, protect and celebrate British craftsmanship, which is why I am extremely proud to support a second year of precious metal bursaries in partnership with Heritage Crafts. Following the success of the inaugural bursaries, it’s been positive to see the successes of the winners and we’re delighted we could support their careers development both financially but also by learning from our master craftspeople here at The Royal Mint. I look forward to seeing what this year’s applicants plan to do with the new bursaries and what precious metals skills will be utilised.”

Iona Hall, one of the 2023 bursary recipients, said:

“I am so grateful for this bursary, which has helped my practice so much. Having my work seen and appreciated by organisations like Heritage Crafts and the Royal Mint made me feel so much more confident in my work and gave me a new drive. My skills have come leaps and bounds after undertaking my training, and my trainer has said that can see me improving and growing confidence. I have thoroughly enjoyed every part and I am so thankful you believed in my silver boxes!”

Jay Blades, Co-Chair of Heritage Crafts, said:

“We are delighted to launch the second year of bursaries in partnership with The Royal Mint. Their passion for the preservation of British craftsmanship aligns so well with our mission to safeguard these skills for the next generation. Based on the success of last year, we know that these bursaries will provide unique opportunities to precious metals craftspeople that would not previously have been possible.”

This is a part of an ongoing partnership between Heritage Crafts and The Royal Mint that also saw the presentation of the first ever Precious Metalworker of the Year Award in November, to watch dial enameller Sally Morrison from Glasgow, during a special reception at the College of St George, Windsor Castle, and featuring a trophy specially made by The Royal Mint team. In addition, the two organisations hosted a symposium of precious metal practitioners from across the UK at Somerset House in July 2023 to identify the issues facing the sector and what might be done to relieve them.

Click here for more information on how to apply for the bursaries (deadline 23 February 2024)

Training bursaries for crafts involving precious metals

Deadline: 5pm on Friday 23 February 2024

The Royal MintThis training bursary is targeted at trainees and prospective trainees of crafts involving precious metals who are experiencing financial hardship. It is sponsored by The Royal Mint and is one of a suite of awards and bursaries offered by Heritage Crafts to support and celebrate heritage craftspeople.

Apply for up to £4,000 to start training in a precious metal craft or to further develop your skills.


 

Emma Jane-RuleMany people are dissuaded from training in precious metal heritage crafts because of the cost, and therefore the make-up of the sector is not truly representative of the mix of backgrounds that make up the UK as a whole. This bursary has been set up to help cover or subsidise the cost of training for someone who would otherwise be prevented from pursuing this career path as a result of the cost.

You could be just starting out on your journey in precious metal crafts or at the point where you want to turn a hobby into a career, or you could already be a maker who is looking to further develop your precious metal craft skills.

Precious metals crafts are those which feature precious metal as a primary material. They can include but are not limited to jewellery making, silversmithing, coppersmithing, gilding, hand engraving, medal making, silver spinning, metal thread embroidery, engine turning (guilloché), concert flute making.

If you are new to a craft and are struggling to find the right training for you, after your own research, please get in touch and we may be able to support. Successful applicants will be supported by the Heritage Crafts team to develop an action plan. We will work with you to monitor progress and support you to achieve your aims.

 

What can this grant be used for?

There are a number of routes to learning a craft skill. Applicants can apply for a grant for any amount up to £4,000 which can cover or contribute towards:

  • the costs of training with a craftsperson;
  • the costs of attending a specialist training course;
  • the costs of attending an accredited training course;
  • undertaking a self-directed programme of training with one or more craftspeople;
  • the cost of specialist tools or materials, books or study materials or low cost travel (no more than 25% of total budget).

The bursary cannot be used for general living expenses, research, promotional activities or anything else. Successful applicants will be supported by the Heritage Crafts team. We will work with to you monitor progress and support you to achieve your aims.

 

How to apply

Please apply by filling out the form below. We will also accept a video application of no more than 15 minutes in length in which you address all of the questions in the form below. You can access a list of questions here.

The deadline for applications is 5pm on Friday 23 February 2024. If you have any questions or need assistance with the application process, please email Tess Osman at tess@heritagecrafts.org.uk.

Assessment, shortlisting and final selection will be carried out by the Heritage Crafts judging team, and interviews will be carried out by Zoom. If you are new to a craft and you would like assistance with finding a trainer, please get in touch and we will do what we can to help.

Enameller Sally named Precious Metalworker of the Year

The Royal MintGlasgow-based watch dial enameller Sally Morrison has won the inaugural Precious Metalworker of the Year Award sponsored by The Royal Mint, including a £2,000 prize and trophy awarded at a special presentation at the College of St George, Windsor Castle, on Wednesday 15 November 2023.

Sally MorrisonHeritage Crafts was set up 13 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.

This new award sponsored by The Royal Mint celebrates a heritage craftsperson who has made an outstanding contribution to working with precious metal over the past year. It recognises a contribution that is far beyond the ordinary, based on a proven dedication to a particular metalworking skill.

Precious Metalworker of the Year Trophy

Head of Coin Design Paul Morgan inspecting the Precious Metalworker of the Year Award

Sally Morrison is a graduate of the Edinburgh College of Arts jewellery course and specialises in engraving and enamelling watch dials at the watch company anOrdain. Her interest in champleé enamelling, the art of applying translucent enamel over a usually textured and precious metal background, has made her the best of a very small and elite group of craftspeople working in this field.

The Precious Metalworker of the Year trophy presented to Sally was made by the team of coin designers and craftspeople at The Royal Mint, led by Head of Coin Design Paul Morgan. The piece is intended to take viewers on a journey of metalwork from its molten stage, through hammering, planishing, repoussé/chasing, and finally through to texture and engraving.

Judges for the new award were Leighton John (Director of Operations at The Royal Mint), Dr Rebecca Struthers (the only watchmaker with a PhD in horology), and Paul Morgan (Head of Coin Design at The Royal Mint).

The two other finalists for the award were Rauni Higson, a silversmith whose commissions include the Goldsmith’s Cup for HMS Prince of Wales, and Warren Martin, one of the few remaining silver spinners in Sheffield, a craft that has been listed as critically endangered. Read more about Rauni and Warren here.

The Royal Mint and Heritage Crafts launched their partnership earlier this year, announcing four bursaries at an event held at the House of Lords. Since then, five bursaries have been awarded to those wanting to train or further develop skills in precious metals. As an exemplar of British craftsmanship, The Royal Mint is committed to protecting and celebrating craftspeople and developing skills wherever possible.

Precious Metalworker of the Year 2023 finalists

The Royal MintHeritage Crafts and The Royal Mint have announced the finalists of the inaugural Precious Metalworker of the Year award, including a silversmith, a silver spinner and a watch dial enameller.

This new award celebrates a heritage craftsperson who has made an outstanding contribution to the field of precious metalworking over the past year. It recognises a contribution that is far beyond the ordinary, based on a proven dedication to a precious metalworking skill.

Rauni Higson, Warren Martin and Sally MorrisonThe three finalists for this year’s award are (in alphabetical order):

  • Rauni Higson – Rauni’s silversmithing commissions include the Goldsmith’s Cup for HMS Prince of Wales, a wedding gift for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and the processional cross for Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral. She currently has her first solo exhibition at The Makers Guild Wales, titled ‘Illuminating Silver’, supported by the Arts Council of Wales.
  • Warren Martin – Warren is one of the few remaining silver spinners in Sheffield, a craft that has been listed as critically endangered. He spins for a number of silverware companies and designer makers. He has spun trophies for top flight sporting competitions including football, Formula 1 and horse racing, including the Champion Stakes at Ascot.
  • Sally Morrison – Sally is a graduate of the Edinburgh College of Arts jewellery course and specialises in engraving and enamelling watch dials at the watch company anOrdain. Her interest in champleé enamelling, the art of applying translucent enamel over a usually textured and precious metal background, has made her the best of a very small and elite group of craftspeople.

The winner will be announced on Wednesday 15 November at a Winners’ Reception at Vicars’ Hall, St George’s House, Windsor Castle. A Young Metalworker of the Year will be announced at the same time.

Heritage Crafts is the national charity set up to celebrate and safeguard traditional craft skills as a fundamental part of the UK’s living heritage. It launched its partnership with The Royal Mint earlier this year, announcing four bursaries at an event held at the House of Lords. Since then, five bursaries have been awarded to those wanting to train or further develop skills in precious metals, along with expert support from the team at The Royal Mint. As an exemplar of British craftsmanship, The Royal Mint is committed to protecting and celebrating craftspeople and developing skills wherever possible.

The winner will be selected by a panel of judges made up of renowned advocates of craft skills:

  • Paul Morgan, Head of Coin Design at The Royal Mint;
  • Dr Rebecca Struthers, watchmaker and author of Hands of Time;
  • Leighton John, Head of Operations at The Royal Mint.
Paul Morgan Rebecca Struthers Leighton John
Photo of Rauni Higson by Rebecca Oldfield.

 

About The Royal Mint

The Royal Mint’s expertise in precious metals spans over a thousand years. Known as the home of precious metals in the UK, The Royal Mint offers products including gold, silver and platinum commemorative coins, bars for investment, and a digital gold saving option, backed by metal held in their vault.

As part of their commitment to sustainability, last year they announced plans to build a factory to recover precious metals from electronic waste, currently active at lab level. Recovered metal is being used to create beautiful jewellery pieces in their latest business venture, 886 by The Royal Mint.

www.royalmint.com