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Nine more grants to help save endangered crafts

A thatching spar maker, a pigment maker, and a boatbuilder are among the recipients of a new round of grants to help safeguard some of the UK’s most endangered craft skills.

Andy BashamHeritage Crafts has awarded the grants through its Endangered Crafts Fund, which was launched in 2019 to increase the likelihood of at-risk craft skills surviving into the next generation. Six of this round’s grants are funded by the Sussex Heritage Trust, the Ashley Family Foundation for Wales, and the Essex Community Foundation and were ring fenced for crafts practitioners within those areas.

In May this year Heritage Crafts published the fourth edition of its groundbreaking Red List of Endangered Crafts, the first research of its kind to rank the UK’s traditional crafts by the likelihood that they will survive into the next generation. The report assessed 259 crafts to ascertain those which are at greatest risk of disappearing, of which 84 were classified as ‘endangered’ and a further 62 as ‘critically endangered’.

The nine successful recipients are:

  • Andy Basham from Essex, for himself and others to learn to make thatching spars from the last spar maker in East Anglia, and equip himself for production from his hazel coppice.
  • Will Holland from Carmarthenshire, to develop his arrowsmithing skills and master the reproduction of historically forged arrowheads, and to teach the craft to others.
  • Charlotte Kenward from West Sussex, to train and equip herself to offer traditional reverse gilded house numbers and signage to heritage properties.
  • Lucy MayesLucy Mayes from London, to purchase equipment to produce a range of innovative and sustainable pigments from processing construction waste.
  • Gail McGarva and the team at Building Futures Galloway, to equip a community workshop on the Solway Firth with tools needed to teach young people traditional wooden boatbuilding.
  • Rob Shaw and team, from North Yorkshire, to equip the new coach trimming workshop of Embsay & Bolton Abbey Steam Railway, offering a space to train more of their volunteers.
  • Travis Smith from Hampshire, to train in hand hewing of timber and apply his skills to the restoration and reconstruction of historical building and the construction of new ones.
  • Stephanie Turnbull from Newport, to trial the use of alternative types of limestone and other stone substrates for lithographic printing, and to publish her findings.
  • Jessie Watson-Brown, Matthew Bailey and Jamey Rhind-Tutt from Devon, to equip a new tannery to produce traditional bark-tanned leather from wild deer skins.

Gail McGarvaThese nine projects follow 57 others awarded in previous rounds, covering endangered crafts such as coppersmithing, Highland thatching, sailmaking and many more. Previous funders have included the Radcliffe Trust, the Pilgrim Trust, the Dulverton Trust, the Swire Charitable Trust and others, as well as individuals who have donated sums from £5 right up to several thousands of pounds.

As usual the fund was oversubscribed, and Heritage Crafts hopes to work with many of the unsuccessful candidates to identify other funding and support opportunities.

Mary Lewis, Heritage Crafts Endangered Crafts Manager, said:

“The survival of endangered craft skills relies on the people who make a positive choice to learn, make and teach these crafts. 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 and to safeguard this important part of our national heritage.”

View the full list of the 66 grants awarded to date 

Three new endangered crafts grants for Sussex

Sarah BurnsA block printer, a trainee rake maker and a reverse glass sign artist have been awarded grants to help safeguard some of Sussex’s most endangered craft skills.

Heritage Crafts and the Sussex Heritage Trust have awarded the grants through the Heritage Crafts’ Endangered Crafts Fund, which was launched in 2019 to increase the likelihood of endangered crafts surviving into the next generation. The successful project joins six previous Sussex recipients funded through the partnership between Heritage Crafts and Sussex Heritage Trust, including a trainee millwright, two flint wallers, a brick maker, a trug maker, a wallpaper maker. Nationally, 50 projects have now been funded through the Endangered Crafts Fund since 2019.

The three new recipients are:

  • Sarah Burns is a textile block printer and natural dyer from West Sussex. Her craft is founded on the use of seasonal natural dye colours that are foraged from the hedgerows and fields around her – fruitwood prunings in winter, hedgerow cuttings in the spring, fruits and flowers in the summer and warm oak tannins in the autumn. She will use the grant to install two large dye kettles to increase her output and make the business more sustainable whilst upskilling her apprentice.
  • Kevin Copeland is Woodland Manager at Veterans’ Growth, a charity in Westfield, East Sussex, dedicated to helping ex-service personnel who are suffering from mental health issues by offering horticultural therapy and support. Kevin will train in traditional wooden rake making in order to pass these skills on to service users and the wider community. Rakes are useful to the charity, as they hand collect the hay from their meadows, and to others in the area who are interested in farming and managing land in a more traditional and sustainable way.
  • Eddy Bennett is a reverse glass sign artist from Brighton who uses acid etching to create the distinctive patterns recognisable from Victorian-style advertising signs of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. His grant will enable him to purchase a plotter to cut vinyl etching stencils and provide custom stencils to other reverse glass sign artists in the region.

Eddy BennettIn 2021 Heritage Crafts published the third edition of its groundbreaking Red List of Endangered Crafts, the first research of its kind to rank the UK’s traditional crafts by the likelihood that they will survive into the next generation. The report assessed 244 crafts to ascertain those which are at greatest risk of disappearing, of which four were classified as extinct, 74 as ‘endangered’ and a further 56 as ‘critically endangered’.

Mary Lewis, Heritage Crafts Endangered Crafts Manager, said:

“The current energy crisis means that our craft skills are at more risk than ever before. We are delighted to be working in partnership with the Sussex Heritage Trust to address the specific challenges to endangered skills and knowledge in Sussex, a region renowned for its craftsmanship and material heritage.”

A further five grants from the rest of the UK are due to be announced in the coming days.

Five new grants awarded to help save endangered crafts from extinction

A pargeter, a shoe maker, reverse glass sign makers and a passementerier are the recipients of the latest round of grants awarded to help safeguard some of the UK’s most endangered craft skills.

Stephanie FirthHeritage Crafts, which is currently working on the fourth edition of its groundbreaking Red List of Endangered Crafts, has awarded a further five 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 Endangered Crafts Fund has been offered with the generous support of the Pilgrim Trust. The five successful recipients are:

  • Elizabeth Ashdown, from London, to enhance her existing practice by learning high-level passementerie skills from expert Clare Hedges.
  • Paul Chamberlain, from Norfolk, to create short films to support the teaching of the craft of reverse-glass sign making.
  • Michelle Dawson, from Dorset, to supplement her glass restoration practice by learning high-level reverse-glass sign making skills from David A Smith MBE.
  • Stephanie Firth, from Derbyshire, to start up a business specialising in handmade bespoke orthopaedic shoes.
  • Anna Kettle, from Bedfordshire, to create short films to support the teaching of the craft of pargeting.

TElizabeth Ashdownhese five projects follow 42 awarded in previous rounds, covering endangered crafts such as type founding, wallpaper block printing, clockmaking, tinsmithing, kiltmaking and many more.

As usual the fund was oversubscribed, and Heritage Crafts hopes to work with many of the unsuccessful candidates to identify other funding and support opportunities.

Heritage Crafts Endangered Crafts Manager Mary Lewis said:

“The pressures facing practitioners of the UK’s most at-risk skills have only been exacerbated by the succession of crises that have included COVID-19, the energy crisis and inflation. These projects will provide future generations with opportunities that they might not otherwise have, to pursue fulfilling careers while safeguarding this important part of our national heritage.”

Since 2019, the Endangered Crafts Fund has been funded through generous donations from organisations including the Pilgrim Trust. Past funders have included the Dulverton Trust, the Sussex Heritage Trust, the Swire Charitable Trust, the Garfield Weston Foundation, the Benefact Trust, and the Prince of Wales’s Charitable Fund, as well as individuals who have donated sums from £5 right up to several thousands of pounds.

About the Pilgrim Trust

TPilgrim Trusthe Pilgrim Trust is an independent charitable trust that was set up in 1930 by Edward Harkness to support the urgent and future needs of the UK. Over the decades, it has supported a wide range of causes, adapting to the changing circumstances and needs in the UK. It gives around £3 million in grants each year to charities and other public bodies that focus on preserving the UK’s heritage or bringing about social change. Its aims are to improve the life chances of the most vulnerable and preserve the best of our past for the public to enjoy.

www.thepilgrimtrust.org.uk

Reverse glass sign painting

The HCA Red List of Endangered Crafts

 

Reverse glass sign painting

 

The making of signs by painting and applying metal leaf (verre eglomise) to the reverse of glass panes. See also brilliant cutting.

 

Status Endangered
Historic area of significance UK
Area currently practised
Origin in the UK 19th century
Current no. of professionals (main income) 6-10
Current no. of professionals (sideline to main income)
21-50
Current no. of trainees Many people have trained with Dave Smith
Current total no. serious amateur makers
Around 10
Current total no. of leisure makers
Around 51-100

 

History

 

Techniques

  • French embossing (most endangered)
  • Acid etching (most endangered)
  • Brilliant cutting (endangered)
  • Water gilding
  • Silvering (endangered)
  • Angel gilding
  • Verre églomisé
  • Graining (related to marbling)

 

Local forms

 

 

Sub-crafts

 

 

Issues affecting the viability of the craft

  • Skills issues: The craft is labour intensive which puts people off learning it. It takes dedication and a lot of time to hone your skills.
  • Raw materials: The paints aren’t as good as they used to be which is becoming an issue.
  • High costs of raw materials and labour: The high cost of the materials and labour compared to the low cost and high speed of computer designed vinyl graphics reduces the number of clients willing to commission work.
  • Training issues: Training in reverse glass sign painting can be expensive
  • Skills issues: some of the allied skills, such as mirror silvering are becoming extremely endangered. The materials used (mainly the Hydfrofluric Acid is extremely toxic and hard to source) puts off most signwriters from engaging more heavily in the skill set.
  • Skills issues: many practitioners do not undertake French Embossing or traditional embossing.  Some will undertake mica embossing which requires the least amount of set up but still produces a beautiful result.
  • Skills issues: this craft originated from very skilled, multi disciplinary business people who could tackle jobs on a commercial scale and to a commercial timetable. The craft is becoming less relevant to business consumers (as it always was) as most of the list of practitioners do not undertake enough of the skills (crucially including framing and installation) as to to be able to offer the craft to all but domestic users.
  • Market issues: there a very few craftspeople who undertake traditional commercial work vital to the survival of the traditional street scene. The vast majority of the list of craftspeople will undertake one off, small scale commissions which involve perhaps signwriting, gilding and some mica embossing, largely but not exclusively, for domestic purposes or a shop window.  Asking craftspeople to produce a 6 metre embossed and gilded fascia sign together with installation and an advertising mirror for the interior of the establishment are almost non existent.

Support organisations

 

 

Craftspeople currently known

Other information

 

 

References