Make Your Crafting Dreams Come True With HCA Bursaries

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Are you an artist of craftsperson? You could be in luck… The Heritage Crafts Association (HCA) has called for applications for a suite of awards and bursaries recognising people working in traditional skills. Craftspeople can be nominated for Heritage Crafts Maker of the Year, HCA/Marsh Trainer of the Year, and HCA/Marsh Volunteer of the Year. Nominations can also be made for the HCA/Marsh Heritage Crafts ‘Made in Britain’ Award. Each award is worth £1,000.


One bursary, offered with the support of The Arts Society and worth up to £1,500 is also available, aimed at assisting the training of apprentices or those training to become craftspeople in heritage crafts. The HCA/Arts Society bursary can contribute, among other things, towards buying of tools or materials, the costs of attending specialist training, buying books or payment for training with a craftsperson.

There is also one Heritage Crafts Scholarship bursary offered of up to £18,000 with the support of The Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust (QEST). The HCA/QEST Scholarship is for those who have completed an apprenticeship or equivalent and are of a reasonable standard in their craft and wish to take their training further in order to enhance their craft career.

The Importance of Heritage Crafts

Heritage crafts make up the largest part of the craft sector, yet many heritage crafts are endangered, as is shown by The Radcliffe Red List of Endangered Crafts. I see this list as truly inspirational. I’ve already started learning silversmithing, with the wonderful Hannah Silversmith, and am hoping to develop my skills – and further skills on the Red List – over time. I’m particularly excited by Hannah’s Upcycled Silver class.


I see heritage crafts as essential to protect. At a time when dwindling resources are demanding new ways of thinking, the past has a lot to offer. Many heritage crafts are, by their nature, eco-friendly. Working with natural materials helps us appreciate the world around us. They also offer a route for people to become financially independent, and add beauty to the world. ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage’ deserves as much protection as more tangible heritage assets.

pirate ring

My family are all keen craftspeople. From embroidery to furniture-making, decoupage to wood turning, I’m lucky enough to have grown up around traditional crafts. I’ve also tried my hand at several. Turning a piece of wood into a wood-turned doll as a child was one of my favourite memories – seeing the life emerge from the wood was truly magical.

I experienced similar magic when making a silver ring recently, seeing a piece of straight metal become a perfect circle (well, almost. There’s a tiny, almost invisible bump where I soldered the ring, but it’s only my second attempt.) I am loving what I’m learning and plan to enjoy more, ‘fire and bashing’ – as Hannah calls the silversmithing process.

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By funding these bursaries and awards the Heritage Craft Association and their partners, The Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust, The Arts Society and the Marsh Christian Trust, are helping people learn and preserve these heritage craft skills and heritage crafts.

The awards and bursaries make it possible to give recognition to the amazing work being done by skilled craftspeople and volunteers, and the contribution of heritage crafts to the UK economy. They also make it possible for people to develop their knowledge and passion for heritage crafts, and help ensure these crafts may continue to be enjoyed and practiced by future generations.

Recent recipients of the Heritage Crafts Association awards and bursaries have included:

  • The last remaining professional fore-edge painter Martin Frost. He was awarded Maker of the Year. Martin took up the craft of vanishing fore-edge painting in 1970, continuing an English tradition that dates back to the 17th century. Since then he has produced over 3,300 edge-paintings, many on carefully restored antique books.
  • Leather worker Candice Lau. She was awarded the HCA/QEST training scholarship. Largely self-taught, Candice designs bespoke leatherwork from her design workshop/studio. The award will enable Candice to attend an intensive 3-month course at the renowned Italian school of leatherwork in Florence, the Scuola di Cuoio, to enhance her technical skills.
  • Shoemaker Frances Pinnock. Frances was awarded the HCA/NADFAS training bursary to study with cordwainers Carréducker and pattern cutter Fiona Campbell, and to buy the tools and equipment needed to further her career.
  • Patchworker Pamela Emerson: She was awarded HCA/Marsh Volunteer of the Year for her work with NI Big Sock, a community project involving the creation of a world record breaking patchwork Christmas stocking. Pamela devised the project as a way of highlighting sewing as a valuable skill, celebrating Northern Irish traditions of linen production and shirt making, and bringing communities together in the process.
  • Silversmith, Alistair McCallum: He was awarded the HCA/Marsh Trainer of the Year award. A silversmith who exhibits nationally and internationally and one of the leading practitioners of the Japanese metalworking technique of Mokume Gane, he has been tireless in his efforts to pass on his skills to the next generation of makers.
  • Deborah Carré and James Ducker: They won the HCA/Marsh Made in Britain award. Their company, Carréducker makes bespoke shoes using the best materials sourced from British suppliers: lasts from Northampton, oak bark soling leather from Devon, exotics from Walsall, and patterns made and shoes stitched by specialists in Wales, Bristol and London. Their vision is to reignite the British shoe industry.

The deadline for applications is 30th November 2017. The awards will be presented at the Heritage Crafts Association’s Annual Conference in March 2018. The awards and bursaries have been made possible through the generous support of the Heritage Crafts Association’s funding partners, The Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust (QEST) the Marsh Christian Trust and The Arts Society.

Patricia Lovett MBE, Vice-Chair of the Heritage Crafts Association, said:
‘The heritage crafts sector in England alone contributes £4.4 billion GVA to the UK economy each year, as much as the petrochemical industry. But for many years it has been completely ignored and is still not supported by the government. However, these bursaries and awards are a real boost for heritage crafts and craftspeople and mean it is a great time to be working in heritage crafts.’

For more information about the Heritage Crafts Association awards and bursaries, please visit their website.

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