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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

Symposium on Precious Metal Skills

Symposium on Precious Metal Skills

When: Tuesday 25 July 2023, 10am to 3.30pm
Where: Somerset House, The Strand, London WC2R 1LA
Cost: Entry to this event is free and refreshments will be provided.

Heritage Crafts and the The Royal Mint are bringing together expert practitioners in precious metal crafts from a broad industry base to Somerset House to create a consensus across the industry of what is required to support at-risk skills.

The symposium will aim to raise awareness and drive support for at-risk skills within precious metal crafts such as gold and silversmithing, medal making, metal thread manufacture, gilding, hand engraving and many others.

The day is supported by the Royal Mint and The Pilgrim Trust and will be opened with a keynote address from Anne Jessopp, CEO of The Royal Mint. The remainder of the day will include talks from practitioners, a panel discussion and breakout discussions on issues affecting skills transmission.

Click here to book

 

Silver spinning

The HCA Red List of Endangered Crafts

 

Silver spinning

 

The process of shaping flat silver disc into a hollow item using a lathe to spin the disc whilst shaping it over a wooden nylon, aluminium or steel former, known as a spinning chuck.  See also metal spinning and silversmithing.

 

Status Critically endangered
Historic area of significance Sheffield, Birmingham
Area currently practised Sheffield, Surrey, Kent, Birmingham
Origin in the UK
Current no. of professionals (main income) 8
Current no. of professionals (sideline to main income)
6
Current no. of trainees 0
Current total no. serious amateur makers
Current total no. of leisure makers

 

History

Spinning produces three-dimensional hollow-ware items such as trophies, vessels and cups. Items can be made to varying scales, in quantity, in a uniform and quick way. Spinners also produce and maintain the associated tools, machinery, formers and chucks used to produce spun vessels.

In the 1950s there were hundreds of spinners, but the trade side of the industry has contracted significantly. Now very few large companies are left; most are one man or two man bands in light industrial units.

 

Techniques

It takes practice and years of experience to learn to spin metal. Spinners understand how different metals behave and become skilled at looking at designs and understanding how best to achieve the required form.

  • Turning
  • Drafting

 

Local forms

n/a

 

Sub-crafts

  • Silver plating – over recent years many platers have closed and in Sheffield and there is only one known silver plater left.

 

Issues affecting the viability of the craft

  • Skills issues: There is a lack of training. There is also an expense of raw materials in training and lack of large orders to create repetition for trainees.
  • Market issues: The loss of large trade companies in centres such as Sheffield, London and Birmingham, combined with cheap imports from Far East are perceived as the biggest issues facing the craft.

 

Support organisations

Craftspeople currently known

Individual craftspeople:

  • Stefan Coe – Surrey
  • Warren Martin – Sheffield
  • Terry & James McCann – Essex
  • Stuart Ray – Kent
  • Carl Longshaw – Birmingham
  • Paul Toland – Birmingham
  • Varis Prieditis, Stuart Ray Ltd – Kent

Part-time craftspeople:

  • Steve Millington – Birmingham, LJ Millington
  • Graham Oldfield
  • Steve Gifford – Sheffield, Camelot
  • Ian Nevin – Sheffield, British Silverware
  • Graham Nye & Son – Walsall, Swatkins
  • David Allison – Sheffield

 

Other information

 

 

References