Monday, 29 June 2009
There were lots of nice pots to see and potters to chat with including a blogging friend Doug Fitch. I don't have time to follow many other craftspeoples blogs but Doug's is always interesting.
He works in Devon making good wholesome slipware pots. Here is his blog. and some of his lovely pots.
Another of my favourite potters Svend Bayer was also there with some simply gorgeous pots. I don't covert many things but I would love one of his huge garden pots. There is one in permanent residence in the courtyard at Rufford and I was rather surprised to see it seems to be used as a litter bin. That's an expensive litter bin. More of Svend's pots here. I have a lot of photos that I took when we visited him at home a couple of years ago, if folk wanted to see them I could put them up in a blog post.
And here are some of the things people made. What makes these courses so much fun is the entheusiasm everyone seems to have and it really is just very pleasant spending time whittling allong with a group of nice people that are enjoying making things with their hands.
As with all our courses I try to do as little hands on myself as possible, it is more important to me that people feel empowered to make things themselves when they get home than having a few perfect things to take home but not the skills to repeat it.
Saturday, 27 June 2009
There are some wonderful craftspeople represented there and the commitment and passion for their crafts shines out. Since starting to make quaiches a few years ago I have been taking more of an interest in whiskey and if I progress to the next stage then the prizes include some very special bottles of the Balvenie.
Speaking at an adjournment debate on Traditional Crafts in the House of Commons this Thursday Barbara Follett said:
"We are keen that the rich intangible cultural heritage of the United
Kingdom is properly valued and, when necessary, preserved…. Whether tangible or intangible, however, our heritage is a marvellous asset that we want to protect and nurture.”
She then called on local and regional authorities to do their bit along with central Government and its agencies to support these vital heritage crafts.
“As a Regional Minister, I see a role for the regional development agencies and local authorities. They need to play their part, along with central Government and non-departmental bodies, in ensuring that our traditional skills are upheld and preserved.”
I am sure my friend Mike Turnock the sievemaker never thought he would hear the Culture Minister say:
" no serious gardener, anxious to keep his or her soil in good tilth, would be without a good quality riddle—and, should they be in need of one, Michael Turnock is just the man to supply it."
The full transcript of the 30 minute debate is available at the they work for you website and on Hansard.
It seems somehow appropriate that Mike's riddles should be mentioned since it was in his workshop 6 months ago that the seeds of the HCA were sown, see pictures of his workshop and that visit in my blog post here. And here is one of the pictures of Mike at work.
This is our official HCA response.
“ The Heritage Crafts Association welcomes the Culture Minister''s comments in support of the traditional or heritage craft skills of this country. For people like Mike Turner, the last traditional sieve maker in this country, Barbara Follet’s comments represent a beacon of hope that when they retire, their skills gained from a lifetime of practicing traditional crafts may not fade away with them.”
“However, we are concerned that the full picture of the value of the heritage crafts to the economy, and the scale of the loss that lack of action could produce, both the loss of cultural traditions stretching back in some cases thousands of years, and the loss of economic potential which this cottage industry presents has not yet been fully appreciated by the Government. In light of the Minister's comments in support of traditional crafts, it seems fair to ask for some alternative plan to safeguard this vital part of our living heritage, and some money to do it with. We look forward to continuing to discuss these issues with the Minister and her department on an ongoing basis”
Wednesday, 24 June 2009
Tomorrow I am off to London again representing the Heritage Crafts Association at the first meeting of the working group on National Occupational Standards in Craft. This underpins all government funded training, NVQs, apprenticeships etc. so it is important that the generic Craft NOS is appropriate to the heritage crafts we are supporting. No NOS=no funding.
Then at 6pm I shall be in the House of Commons to see my MP who has tabled an adjournment debate on traditional craft skills. He will be asking questions which will be answered by the minister responsible. You can see it live online on the parliament channel here. 6pm Thursday 25th.
Home late then Friday will be cutting up bowl blanks ready to take to Norfolk show where I am demonstrating next week.
Wednesday, 17 June 2009
I just came across this rather nice article written in respect of folk music but change a few names and it could equally well apply to traditional crafts.
"In 1931 H.G. Wells wrote “In England we have come to rely upon a comfortable time-lag of fifty years or a century, intervening between the perception that something ought to be done and a serious attempt to do it” (Work Wealth & Happiness of Mankind). At the end of the last century the Victorian collectors saw a need to record for posterity the tapestry of music, custom, and song that they saw in danger of disappearing. Collectors such as Lucy Broadwood, Frank Kidson and Cecil Sharp would have been amazed and alarmed at the position at the end of the twentieth century; amazed at the wealth of material that has been amassed and alarmed at the dearth of provision for their legacy.No properly funded centre exists in England to research and celebrate our vernacular arts. No sustained funds or facilities have ever existed in England specifically for research into our native traditions. Most research and collecting has to date been accomplished informally by individuals generally unsupported financially."
This is an introduction to an article about Doc Rowe, music and folklore collector published in The Living Tradition magazine about ten years ago and available in full online here
Tuesday, 16 June 2009
"Techné is Greek for "craft" and "art" and is the term that Aristotle used in theorising knowledge, to refer to the third form of knowledge in his classification of sciences.
Now understood as mere skill belonging to craft. techné has unfortunately lost its original meaning which integrated beauty, art, expertise, technical knowledge, skill and industry.
In Aristotle's time, artistic creativity and technology were not divided."
I wish we had a word today which integrated the beauty, art, expertise, technical knowledge, skill and industry involved in craft.
The Swedish word sloyd has many of those meanings and Japanese mingei some of them but for once the English language is badly lacking.
Monday, 15 June 2009
Whilst in Germany I carved a few bowls and spoons to leave behind as presents but also to try out Michail's bowl carving blocks and his wonderful old adze.
Bowl carving adzes are uncommon tools and a good one is very hard to find, I have tried quite a few now and this was a beauty.
A few people offer bowl carving courses in the UK but not in the same way as we have seen in Scandinavia. Probably the best known in Guy Mallinson who runs popular courses in Dorset http://www.mallinson.co.uk/carve.html A gorgeous venue but I don't like the technique of using chainsaw cuts across the grain to start the hollowing, I prefer to teach only techniques that people can replicate at home. The Scandinavian style bowls work much better as a design for carving by hand too, these are two that I carved in Germany from bird cherry.
I hope eventually to offer bowl carving courses if there is interest. In Sweden Saterglantan is the place here or in the US Drew Langsner runs bowl carving courses in the Scandinavian style here.
And now I have to share a few gratuitous carved bowl pictures.
Michail is an incredibly competent greenwoodworker with many skills only one of which is a growing competence at turning bowls on the pole lathe. We have worked together several times over the last 5 years and forged tools together both in Germany and in my forge at Edale. Each time we meet we work a little together and it is very interesting for both of us, he often recognises things in my technique that I was not aware that I did.
Our acomodation for the week was Michail's lovely yurt and Nicola took some video and edited a short film for youtube.
Here is the video.
The week we were there was a festival of local arts and crafts and one of the biggest venues was the site I visited 2 years ago for the 'kesurokai" festival when European and Japanese woodworkers worked together to build this magnificent tori. One of the beauties of traditional woodworking techniques is that the objects age beautifully where modern techniques often produce things which are beautiful when first made but are never as nice again. It was good to see the tori 2 years on looking beautiful.
I was inspired by these tarp and pole structures made by a local craftsman and I suspect I will use the idea myself whether at home or on my show demonstration stand in the future.
There were lots of good crafts but I particularly liked the work of one blacksmith who was making a mix of functional objects like gate hinges and sculptures like these.
We also had a taste of primitve woodworking with a visit to a local bronze age archaeological site where they are building a long house using traditional techniques and a mix of stone and bronze tools.
This sort of trip provides me with inspiration for years to come and often it takes many months before I realise what was the most valuable part. I am still making replicas of bowls that I saw in the medieval museum in Lubeck that I visited with Michail 4 years ago, time will tell what the value of this trip was but it was also great fun to share with other inspiring people.
Here is Michail and Katy's website.
Thursday, 11 June 2009
Inside it looks like this and it's about as hard to get in as to get through customs at an average airport.
The Heritage Crafts Association were represented by 4 committee members from left to right Patricia Lovett, me in a suit, Chris Rowley, and Daniel Carpenter. It was a good day for meeting anybody and everybody within the craft world and putting faces to voices we have been talking to on the phone.
Here is the video shown at the launch.
After the meeting I headed off to the Imperial War Museum South of the river. It was an interesting day in London because the tubes (subway) were on strike. I always prefer to walk anyway but yesterday a lot more people were walking. I needed to be at the War Museum at closing time to meet with someone who works there and is potentially interested in undertaking research for the HCA as part of an MA in Cultural Heritage. We have several potential research projects in mind and I think this could provide some objective information to assist us in our cause.
One of the benefits of staying above ground in London is that you not only get a mental impression of how far apart things are but you also get to see lots of interesting stuff in between. I just happened across this shop on New Oxford Street. I recognised it from articles I had read as the place to buy a traditional umbrella or walking stick, a family business since 1830. Sadly I was too rushed to go in and say hello but I will go back. See their website here.
And one more amazing building, there are so few timber frames left in London, this one must have survived the fire of 1666.
Left home 8am returned 12.30, a long but good day. Tomorrow we start a 3 day woodcarving course at home.
Monday, 8 June 2009
Today I have been turning nice sycamore porringers, the shape of this one but they will finish the same colour as the sycamore mazers I made a few days ago. If you would like to eat your breakfast from one of my porringers for free simply click the comments button at the bottom of this post and say yes please. When the porringers are ready in about 3 weeks I will put the names in a hat and pick one out and post off a free porringer, simple as that.
One more day turning in the workshop tomorrow then Wednesday I am off to London again to represent the Heritage Crafts Association at the House of Lords at the launch of the craft blueprint. This document has been produced by CCSkills and sets out the way forward in the crafts. These trips cost £70 a time as well as a day off work, if I have any philanthropic readers that would like to sponsor my HCA work do let me know. I am very happy to give my time and we really feel to be making good progress but the costs do add up on a craftsmans wage.
Saturday, 6 June 2009
After the visit Tom wrote to me saying that he is going to apply for an adjournment debate on the conservation of heritage craft skills. These are allocated by ballot so there is no guarantee that it will happen but it would be great to see the issue debated in the house. An adjournment debate happens at the end of each working day and involves the MP speaking for 15 minutes on an issue then the relevant minister replying.
Thursday, 4 June 2009
In their advocacy role they have a wider remit and are very supportive of the work of the Heritage Crafts Association and we hope that there will be opportunities for collaboration in the future. We shall be meeting again next week at the House of Lords for the launch of the craft blueprint which has been produced following an extensive period of research and consultation to determine the actions required to support both contemporary and heritage craft skills in the future.
After the meeting I went to Tate Britain to see a new exhibition by land artist Richard Long. Most people know Andy Goldsworthy's work, less folk know Long though he has been doing these things since the 1960s. It was a very good exhibition which I would recommend though at £9 a ticket it makes you realise how lucky we are now to have the rest of the galleries and museums open for free.
I have not sorted the pictures from the trip yet but will post a few later.
Looking back I am not sure I ever posted pictures of the finished woodstore so I'll post some pics here.
And these are the posts from last year when I felled the trees and we put the frame up.