Crafty Scots learn how to nail everything from forging to sewing from the experts
In the deepest lockdown, Jack Waygood did what many others did – he retired to the garden shed to do something.
He had previously been to New Zealand, where he used his blacksmithing skills to make metal props for the new Lord of the Rings television series.
Dismissed due to the pandemic, back in the UK with no blacksmith to work with and in the loneliness of his late grandfather’s old garden shed, he took a gas burner to a copper plate and hammered out a series of bewitching “masks”. .
The sequence of copper-colored faces – one with a curly mustache, one with a pouting pout, a grimace and a scream or perhaps a noisy laugh – his collection of metal dolls and filigree sculptures contradicts the usual image of blacksmithing.
But mastering metal with heat, hammering and brute force, according to Jack – who works under the name Jaxx Waygood – does not always have to be associated with the glowing heat of the smithy, even if the whole bashing brings a certain amount of joy.
“Everyone should try heating up a bit of iron and hitting it with a hammer,” he says. “There’s a lot of satisfaction in that.”
Many are ready to try it out: his next block of beginner blacksmithing courses at The Forge Community Maker’s Space in Edinburgh is sold out, with more in preparation.
Jack, a journeyman blacksmith, whose Work of Iron workshop is located in Ratho on the outskirts of Edinburgh, is one of many skilled artisans whose skills are in great demand by the next generation of manufacturers.
After plunging into uncertainty as a result of the pandemic, closing retail stores for their products, barring workshops or in some cases suddenly having to park their craft at home for schoolchildren, they are now struggling to keep up with demand from Scots eager to learn their craft craft.
Next week, manufacturers from across the country will answer the call when Scotland’s craft community comes together for the second Craft Week Scotland, a showcase for their talent and the opportunity to share their skills through a series of lessons and workshops.
This year’s weeklong craft celebration was launched last year in response to the challenges of the pandemic and includes workshops in everything from wicker weaving in Edinburgh to ceramic repair using the ancient Japanese technique of kintsugi in Glasgow.
Taster courses in enamelling and ceramics are held all over the country. In Dundee you can learn how to make a silver ring, while knitters in Stirling discover the fine art of making Shetland lace and in Banchory sheets of paper are sculpted in a one-hour workshop.
Craft Week Scotland, which runs from October 24th to 31st, was developed by Craft Scotland as a nationwide initiative to raise awareness of the vibrant craft sector, with exhibitions from internationally renowned and emerging manufacturers across all areas of furniture Jewelry, ceramics, textiles to glass work and more. There will also be a number of online lectures by leading craftsmen and curators from around the world.
In Edinburgh, Jack’s two hand-forged “acrobatic sculptures” and a collection of copper repousse masks entitled “The Emblem of the Pandemic” are on display at the Art and Craft Collective, Causewayside.
While learning to forge without access to a forge is difficult – and it takes years of learning and traveling to reach its level – he says the classroom gives a sense of what can be achieved.
“It’s pretty safe, it’s fun – it’s like craft therapy.
“People want to make things again, there is a resurgence in all trades, probably because people spend so much time on computers that they want to try something different.
“Forging is a very physical activity, you become strong. It’s dirty, sweaty, and physical – yes, you can get burned – but it’s a real pleasure and satisfaction to move metal under your hammer. ”
Scotland has more than 3,000 manufacturers and companies involved in contemporary handicrafts – not all of them as physically demanding as forging.
Craft workshops include furniture making sessions with contemporary maker Isabelle Moore in her Edinburgh studio.
There the students learn how to make and weave a stool from rattan cane or seagrass, book shelves and the basics of furniture construction. As part of Craft Week Scotland, she will present her work together with other furniture manufacturers in an open studio in the city’s Albion Business Center.
“There is great interest from people who want to learn this and other crafts. People want to know where something comes from and I want to pass on my skills, ”she says.
In Aberdeen, Fiona Hall of Camban Studio works with textiles inspired by the natural surroundings of Scotland and the colors of Aberdeenshire. After originally working from her kitchen table – and being surrounded by schoolbooks during the lockdown while teaching her kids at home – she now has a base at Deemouth Artists’ Studios, where she runs textile craft classes.
She says it is gratifying to see her students develop their skills under her guidance.
“People found new skills or went in different directions and it was exciting to share them with,” she says.
“There is no pressure to create something amazing, it is the simple act of sewing that is so meditative and calming.
“Nobody has to create a masterpiece.”
Craft Scotland Director Irene Kernan said: “As the national craft development agency, one of Craft Scotland’s primary goals is to promote high quality contemporary crafting practices locally, nationally and internationally.
“The Craft Week Scotland campaign is designed to encourage people to visit, interact with, and buy from manufacturers and craft destinations, including galleries, venues, independent shops and small businesses.
“We want to encourage Scotland to buy handcrafted and locally, and we are committed to promoting even more manufacturers and venues across Scotland and showcasing the breadth of contemporary craft that is happening today.”