Thursday, 21 February 2013

Marsh Heritage Crafts Awards

Marsh Heritage Crafts Awards Shortlist Announced

The Heritage Crafts Association and the Marsh Chrristian Trust announce the short list for the second Marsh Heritage Crraft Awards.

For the Marsh Heritage Crafts Trainer Award, the short list is:

Phil Barnes (enamel)

Tracy Franklin (goldwork embroidery)

Cameron Maxfield (silversmith)

For the Marsh Heritage Crafts Volunteer Award, the shortlist is:

Anna Atkins (weaving at Farfield Mill)

Angela Brown (lace)

Brian Hill (silversmithing)

The winners will be announced at the Heritage Crafts Association Spring Conference 2013: Manifesto for Making - tickets are on sale now, and I hope to meet you there, at the V&A on Saturday 23rd March.

Pat Reynolds - Heritage Crafts Association Adminisrator

clog amnesty and the last clogmakers

Clogmaking is in the press again even making the Radio 4 Today program this morning. The story as reported goes like this, there is a resurgence of interest in Welsh clog dancing but not enough clogs. There is only one clogmaker left in Wales and the craft may die out, there is even a clog amnesty to get people to hand in their old clogs. One newspaper is reporting that this amnesty is somehow going to fund an apprentice clogmaker though the official amnesty page makes no mention of that, and it is difficult to see how it would generate the sort of funds needed.

The true story as is often the case is much more interesting and much deeper. There are in fact quite a few folk making clogs but most use machine cut clog soles sawn on a bandsaw. We should point out here that English and Welsh clogs have always been a wooden sole with a leather upper unlike the French, Spanish or Dutch clogs and sabbots which are all wood, they are also far more comfortable. The most difficult bit of this traditional craft and the bit that people lay claim to being "the last of" is cutting the clog sole with long handles clog knives. You use a set of three knives, the blocker, for most of the shaping, the hollower, to hollow where your foot sits and the gripper, to cut the groove the leather upper gets nailed into.

For many years the only person in the UK who was making all his clogs in this traditional way was Jeremy Atkinson  who we have written about before here  Jeremy spent 25 years researching the craft working with the last retired clogmakers in Wales, visiting working clogmakers in Spain he even wrote the book on clogmaking back in 1984 .
Here he is in the workshop

More recently one of the clogmakers who uses bandsawn soles Trefor Owen has also started demonstrating some cutting with knives and gaining a lot of press as "the last full time clogmaker in Wales"
Here he is

Journalists love to tell the story of the last craftsman on the verge of dying out, it is at the same time compelling and frustrating. It is frustrating because it is a self fulfilling prophecy. So long as there is big national publicity to be gained from being the last one about to die out there is very little incentive to train someone else to work as competition. I know this all too well having taught many people to turn wooden bowls on a pole lathe journalists desperately want to print that I am "the last working pole lathe turner". Occasionally I will tell them that I am still "the last person earning the majority of my income from making bowls on a pole lathe" but surely the fact that there were no pole lathe bowl turners 25 years ago and now there are probably 50 that can do it in the UK and others I have taught in Japan, Sweden the USA and across Europe is a far more interesting story? Apparently not what sells papers and Radio is the last of the line story. How then do we encourage people to take on an apprentice?

In 2005 Jeremy Atkinson did actually train a clogmaker Geraint Parfitt at St Fagans the Welsh National folk museum at Cardiff where he is still working today. This film shows some of the that process.

Through the Heritage Crafts Association we are working hard to adress the current issue of lack of entry routes to the traditional crafts. Getting journalists interested in the current upsurge in interest rather than the last of the line is key. What we are experiencing is not the end it is the beginning, a little like the upsurge in interest in rare breeds, locally sourced and organic food over the last 20 years, people want to buy these things and young people want to find fulfilling work there is a rosy future ahead.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

amazing art/craft by Hubert Duprat and the Caddis

I just found these images and fell in love.

The French artist/sculptor Hubert Duprat gives caddis fly larvae gold to build their tubular cases with, they are so beautiful.

Here is the artist discussing his work, he describes the caddis project starting at 2.30. I like the way he describes it as a collaborative project with himself as the architect and the caddis as the builders.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

stone carvers wanted for TV film project

Award winning documentary film house, Providence Pictures, is seeking experts to contribute to a NOVA/PBS film series — Building Wonders of the World
Drawing on the successful formula of Providence Pictures’ last three films — Secrets of the ParthenonRiddles of the Sphinx, and Building the Great Cathedrals — our new three-part documentary film series, Building Wonders of the World, will utilize a combination of classic detective story archaeology and an immersive, hands-on construction demonstration.  
For our current project we are looking to recreate a piece of historical architecture based on the rock-cut tombs of Petra. The purpose of this model is to test out ancient methods of building by using academic knowledge to create a one-of-a-kind experimental example of how certain tools and techniques work in reality. Ideally the “tomb” will stand about 4m high and 3m wide and be made of sandstone. We have scholars who know the ancient engineering details of such a project, but we need someone who can creatively execute the project using sculpting and carving expertise.
It is important to investigate the appropriate ancient methods of engineering, but we are also interested in hearing of possible new techniques to recreate the ancient architecture.
For more information on Providence Pictures and to see trailers for ParthenonSphinx, and Cathedrals, please visit our website: 
Experts who would like to be considered to be a part of this project are invited to send an email of interest including a resume to We would like to hear from any interested party as soon as possible. 

Thank you!

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Great apprenticeship opportunity trug maker

Wanted apprentice trug maker, full details below. Apprenticeships in established traditional crafts companies are rare so this is a great opportunity for the right person.

Job Description – Apprentice Trug Maker

Cuckmere Trug Company, Berwick Court Farm, Alfriston Road, Berwick,   East Sussex, BN26 5QS.

Job Description:                   Apprentice Trug Maker

Department:                          Royal Sussex Workshop/South Down Workshop

The Company’s Apprenticeship Scheme lasts for three years and is aimed at the apprentice becoming a skilled Craftsman Trug Maker after that period of training.  Applicants should, therefore, be prepared to undertake the scheme enthusiastically for the full term of the apprenticeship.

1.              PURPOSE AND DUTIES


a)          To manufacture Sussex Trug Baskets and other craft related products.

b)         To work conscientiously as a member of a team based operation within own work area and spanning all Workshops.

c)          To ensure that the Company’s production and despatch targets are achieved for designated Workshop.

d)         To learn how all of the Company’s products are made.


a)     To produce good quality products that the Company can offer for sale to its customers with pride.

b)   To work with the Master Trug Maker in charge of own designated Workshop and other staff therein to meet the Company’s Production Targets.

c)      To ensure that all customers’ orders are despatched on time.

d)     To accept individual responsibility for advising Master Trug Maker of immediate and future raw material requirements, when identified.

e)      To accept individual responsibility for the implementation and observance of Health & Safety and other statutory regulations.

f)      To ensure a clean and safe working environment for self and colleagues.

g)     To accept individual responsibility for advising the Master Trug Maker of any dangerous or suspect machinery or procedures and for advising him/her of any accident, dangerous occurrence, condition or procedure.

h)     To carry out own work in a cheerful, friendly and helpful manner as part of a closely knit Team.

i)      To take pride in producing a first class, craftsman made crafts products.

j)      To attend shows for the purpose of demonstrating and selling the company’s products.  Shows may be in Great Britain or elsewhere in Europe as required.  This will involve weekend work away from home during the show season.

2.              RESPONSIBILITIES

To learn and master the various techniques involved in making the Royal Sussex Traditional Trug and the South Down Contemporary Trug.  This will involve mostly hand tool work but, after the age of 18 will also include some use of wood working machinery, such as rip saw, band saws and sanders. It is anticipated that the successful applicant will also be involved in creating crafts other than Trugs.

 3.           RELATIONSHIPS  

Accountable directly to the Master Trug Maker responsible for your designated Workshop but working with, and learning from the other Trug Makers in the two workshops.

      4.          PHYSICAL CONDITIONS

The position involves purely manual work.   The jobholder is expected to learn all aspects of the Company’s production within the Royal Sussex and South Down Trug Workshops and become proficient in their implementation.   This position includes varied work as directed by the Proprietor and some heavy lifting on occasions.


                              The job holder will enjoy a close working relationship with the Proprietor, Master Trug Maker and other members of staff and daily contact with members of the public and trade customers.


Hours:                     0830 – 1300 and 1400 – 1700 on days designated within Contract of Employment.
                              Overtime is compulsory if required.    Staff are expected to finish the work that has been set for them, and assist their colleages to finish, before quitting for the day.

Wages:                    £2.75 per hour at age 17 – 19 and £4.98 per hour at age 20 and over, paid one week in arrears. 

Annual Leave:           Statutory Annual Holidays, plus public holidays as recognised by the Company, or time off in lieu.   Holidays will be taken in arrears.   One annual holiday week to be taken at Christmas/New Year break.


a)    The preferred age range is 17 - 21 years, depending upon the candidate.

b)   Must be fit and willing to work hard, doing long hours when needed to get the job        finished on time for our customers.
                             c)  Employee must be able to commit himself/herself to the Company and to making good quality products within a closely-knit Team environment.

d) MUST have reliable transport or be able to travel in on time on public transport.  Times can be varied to allow for public transport schedules.

8.             FUTURE EMPOLYMENT

Following the successful completion of the apprenticeship period the company would anticipate engaging the applicant as a Craftsman Trug Maker.  Following graduation it is expected that the new Craftsman would also be willing to attend courses in other craft products in order to bring enrichment to the company for the future.


Video of trugmaking