Past, present and future – keeping ancient crafts alive for years to come

06 OCT 2020

A coppersmith, a withy pot maker and a disappearing fore-edge painter 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 has begun work on the third edition of its groundbreaking HCA 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, supported by £12,000 from Allchurches’ heritage grants programme.
 
Allchurches Trust is funding three of the five successful recipients in this latest round of grants, including: 
 
Lizzy Hughes, from London, to develop her coppersmithing skills to include joinery, so that she’s able to make objects constructed from multiple parts such as buckets, watering cans and funnels, and to teach the craft.
 
Sarah Ready, from Devon, to develop her practice as a withy pot maker, producing pots for her son to fish with off the Devon coast, and to document the craft.
 
Gillian Stewart, from Glasgow, to expand her bookbinding practice by training as a *disappearing fore-edge painter, and to teach the craft.
 
Alex Ward (a traditional furniture maker) and Lois Walpole (publishing a book on endangered crafts) are to also benefit from the latest HCA funding.
Gillian Stewart, bookbinding
Gillian Stewart, bookbinding
 
These five projects follow 13 awarded in previous rounds covering endangered crafts such as scissor making, fan making, damask weaving, boot tree making, cockle basket making, folding knife making and neon bending. Allchurches supported coracle making, sail making and willow basket making in the previous round.
 
As expected, the fund was oversubscribed, and this was only compounded by the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the sole traders and micro-businesses that make up the heritage crafts sector. The HCA hopes to work with many of the unsuccessful candidates to identify other funding and support opportunities in these difficult times.

HCA Endangered Crafts Officer Mary Lewis, said: “No-one could have anticipated the impact of COVID-19 at the beginning of this year, not only on craft businesses, whose selling, teaching and supply chains have been curtailed, but on the craft skills themselves, many of which were on the brink even before the pandemic hit. We passionately believe that these skills have lots to offer a post-COVID future, as productive and fulfilling tools with which to rebuild a sustainable economy.”
 
Paul Playford, who heads up the heritage grants programme at Allchurches Trust, said: “We hope that our funding will help enable these talented craftspeople to further develop their skills, as well as to hand them down to future generations and share their craft with new audiences; potentially opening doors to new funding opportunities in these challenging times. We feel privileged 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.”
Sarah Ready, withy pot maker
Sarah Ready, withy pot maker
 
*disappearing fore-edge painting – where a book seemingly has a gilded or patterned fore-edge, but when fanned the pages reveal a painting.
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