A couple of weeks ago, I attended the Heritage Crafts Association Conference in London. It was a very interesting day and changed my perception of what constitutes a 'heritage' craft and what needs to be done to protect endangered crafts.
Crafts from darning and mending clothes to making ladder backed cane-seated chairs to clog soled leather shoes to making flutes by hand all featured during the day.
Our conference paperwork included a list of critically endangered crafts. These included basketwork furniture making, damask weaving, Fair Isle straw backed chair making, millwrighting, paper making, reverse glass sign painting, spinning wheel making and wainwrighting as well as many more. I realised that although I run a craft project, most of these crafts were unknown to me.
Although, sadly, it is easy to see why some of these crafts have waned over the years, now that we live in a digital/electronic age, many are dying out due to a lack of apprenticeship opportunities and a UK wide obsession with sending young people to college or university. The vital importance of protecting our craft heritage by funding carefully placed apprenticeships has been lost along the way.
Part of the Bridgend Craft Collective project is to try to highlight, raise awareness of and provide training in heritage crafts. However, the sheer number and diversity of heritage crafts makes that a huge task, somewhat beyond the current scope of this project.
If you read this short news article and are a heritage crafter who would like to take on an apprentice to protect the future of your craft, please get in touch. We will do everything we can to help you make that a reality.
Alison Westwood firstname.lastname@example.org