Can the BCWP help with the conservation of traditional skills and crafts?
The Brighton Community Workshop Project is committed to providing a workshop space for our members to Make, Learn, Share & Repair - but what do we mean when we talk about 'Learning and Sharing?'
At its heart, the message here is that we learn from each other whilst sharing ideas, skills, knowledge & techniques. A key principle that has been one of the considerations behind the project is the conservation of Heritage Crafts and Traditional skills.
In this current age of cutting edge digital technologies and screen based arts and entertainment we feel that there is great value in being able to take a step back and immerse ourselves in more tangible, tactile, therapeutic creative activities and where better a place to start than us taking a look at the conservation of Heritage Crafts?
It's a sad fact and an indictment of the modern age that many of these traditions are being lost, either through lack of training opportunities, lack of interest or a lack of market. Society moves on and with it so does it's requirements, a lack of need due to ‘low commercial viability’ has meant that many items that were once traditionally made in the UK are being produced overseas in factories at fractions of the cost or considered obsolete for modern era.
It should be said that whilst we don’t profess to know what all of these heritage crafts are, or indeed have any of these skills ourselves, it is of interest to us.
From blacksmithing to basketry, weaving to woodturning, we have an incredible range of heritage craft skills in the UK and some of the best craftspeople in the world. But many of these skills are in the hands of individuals who have been unable to make provision to pass them on.
Categories of Risk
Utilising established conservation status systems adopted by global animal conservation organisations, the HCA uses the same four categories of risk to determine the viability of skills. Extinct in the UK, Critically Endangered, Endangered and Viable.
The following are extracts is taken directly from the Heritage Craft Association Red List.
Crafts classified as ‘critically endangered’ are those at serious risk of no longer being practised in the UK. They may include crafts with a shrinking base of craftspeople, crafts with limited training opportunities, crafts with low financial viability, or crafts where there is no mechanism to pass on the skills and knowledge.
The Critically Endangered List
Barometer making NEW FOR 2021 Basketwork furniture making Bell founding Bowed-felt hat making NEW FOR 2021 Brilliant cutting NEW FOR 2021 Clay pipe making Clog making Coiled straw basket making NEW FOR 2021 Compass making NEW FOR 2021 Copper wheel engraving NEW FOR 2021 Currach making NEW FOR 2021 Damask weaving Devon stave basket making Diamond cutting NEW FOR 2021 Engine turning (guilloché) Fabric pleating NEW FOR 2021 Fair Isle straw back chair making Fan making Flute making Fore-edge painting Frame knitting NEW FOR 2021 Glass eye making NEW FOR 2021 Hat plaiting Hazel basket making NEW FOR 2021 Highlands and Islands thatching NEW FOR 2021 Horse collar making Horsehair weaving NEW FOR 2021 Industrial pottery Kishie basket making Maille making Metal thread making Millwrighting Mouth-blown sheet glass making NEW FOR 2021 Oak bark tanning Orrery making Paper making (commercial handmade) Parchment and vellum making Piano making Plane making Pointe shoe making NEW FOR 2021 Saw making Scissor making Shetland lace knitting NEW FOR 2021 Shinty caman making Sieve and riddle making Silver spinning NEW FOR 2021 Spade making (forged heads) Spinning wheel making Sporran making NEW FOR 2021 Swill basket making Tinsmithing Wainwrighting Watch dial enamelling Watch making Withy pot making Wooden fishing net making NEW FOR 2021
Crafts classified as ‘endangered’ are those which currently have sufficient craftspeople to transmit the craft skills to the next generation, but for which there are serious concerns about their ongoing viability. This may include crafts with a shrinking market share, an ageing demographic or crafts with a declining number of practitioners.
The Endangered List
Arrowsmithing Bagpipe making (Northumbrian pipes, smallpipes and bellows blown pipes) Bee skep making Block printing (wallpaper and textiles) Bow making (musical) Brass instrument making Brick making Broom making Brush making Clock making Coach building Coach trimming Coopering (non-spirits) Coppersmithing (objects) Coracle making Corn dolly making Cricket bat making Cutlery and tableware making Falconry furniture making Fender making Flintknapping (masonry) Folding knife making Free reed instrument making Gansey knitting Globe making Glove making Hand grinding Harp making Hat block making Hat making NEW FOR 2021 Horn, antler and bone working Hurdle making Illumination Iron founding Japanning Keyboard instrument making Kilt making NEW FOR 2021 Ladder making Lead working Letterpress printing Lithograpy NEW FOR 2021 Lorinery Marbling Nalbinding Neon making Oar, mast, spar and flagpole making Orkney chair making Pargeting Passementerie Percussion instrument making Rake making Reverse glass sign painting Rope making Rush matting Sail making Scientific glassworking Shoe and boot last and tree making Shoe and boot making Side saddle making Skeined willow working NEW FOR 2021 Slating Sofrut calligraphy NEW FOR 2021 Spectacle making NEW FOR 2021 Split cane rod making Straw working Surgical instrument making Sussex trug making Type founding and manufacture NEW FOR 2021 Umbrella making Vegetable tanning Wheelwrighting Whip making Wooden pipe making Woodwind instrument making (reed instruments)
Crafts classified as ‘currently viable’ are those which are in a healthy state and have sufficient craftspeople to transmit the craft skills to the next generation. They may include crafts with a large market share, widely popular crafts, or crafts with a strong local presence. NB. A classification of ‘currently viable’ does not mean that the craft is risk-free or without issues affecting its future sustainability/viability.
Currently Viable List
Armour and helmet making Automaton making Bagpipe making (Highland pipes) Basket making Batik Bead working NEW FOR 2021 Bicycle frame making Billiard, snooker and pool cue making Blacksmithing Boat building Bookbinding Bowyery Braiding Button making Cabinetmaking Calligraphy Candle making NEW FOR 2021 Car manufacturing Carpentry Carpet and rug weaving Chair caning Chair making Chair seating Charcoal burning Cob building Coopering (spirits) Coppersmithing (stills) Coppice working Corset making NEW FOR 2021 Crochet Darkroom photography NEW FOR 2021 Drum making Dry stone walling Dyeing Edge tool making Embroidery Enamelling Farriery Felting Fletching Flintknapping (objects) Fly dressing Founding (non-ferrous metals) French polishing Furniture making Gilding Glass engraving Glass working Goldsmithing Green woodworking Guitar making Gunmaking Hand engraving Handle making Harris Tweed weaving Hedgelaying Intaglio NEW FOR 2021 Islamic calligraphy NEW FOR 2021 Jewellery making Joinery Knife making Knitting Lace making Lapidary NEW FOR 2021 Leatherworking Letter cutting Macrame NEW FOR 2021 Marquetry Medal making Metal spinning Millinery Model engineering Mosaic Net making Organ building Origami Paper making (studio) Patchwork and quilting Pewter working Pole lathe turning Pottery (studio) Puppet making Quilling Rag rugging Rocking horse making Rug tufting Saddlery Signwriting Silversmithing Smocking Spinning Stained glass and glass painting Steel pan making Stick dressing Stone carving Stonemasonry Stringed instrument making Swordsmithing Tailoring Tapestry weaving Tatting Taxidermy Thatching Tile making (wall and floor tiles) Tile making (roofing tiles) Timber framing Toy making Upholstery and soft furnishings Weaving Wig making Wood carving Wood turning
Hopefully, one day, we may host classes at the Brighton Community Workshop run by specialist crafts people, who we could provide a platform for handing on the baton and sharing their skills to others. Which in some small way may help in the battle to preserve the UK's Heritage Crafts.
Click here to read more about the Red List at the Heritage Craft Association.
(With thanks to the Heritage Craft Association - all permissions granted for copy and images )