Isabel Keim
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Goldsmiths' Centre Hubs - Scotland: Tutors and technicians boost their ethical making knowledge and technical skills

Last week a group of sixteen tutors and technicians from colleges and universities across Scotland went into the workshop as students and spent five inspiring days learning a range of technical skills as part of the Goldsmiths' Centre’s Scottish Hub project.

Having started as a pilot in Scotland in 2018, the Hub project is now halfway through and has helped to run activites in three of its six intended locations. Funded and coordinated by the Goldsmiths’ Centre, the Hub project aims to help advance and develop art, craft, design and artisan skills related to the goldsmithing industry regionally across the UK.

The week in Scotland started with a one-day ethical practices workshop led by the Incorporation of Goldsmiths. The focus was on updating attendees on the Incorporation's Ethical Pledge as well as providing the chance to learn or refresh the attendee’s knowledge of various ethical workshop practices. Now in its second year, the Incorporation of Goldsmiths Ethical Making Programme, which includes two initiatives; the Ethical Making Resource and the Ethical Making Pledge, aims to empower makers and students in Scotland by encouraging them to develop their own ethical making approach and inspiring others to do the same.

The participants then selected between one of two fully-funded four-day masterclasses, depending on their preference and skills needs. Goldsmith and author of “To the Point – Pin Mechanisms and Brooch Back Design” Daniela Malev explained how to initiate and encourage a conscious approach to designing brooch backs and their mechanisms. Daniela also delivered a lecture describing the long history and development of the brooch from its early Bronze Age forms as a fibula to the modern-day brooch as one category of contemporary jewellery. Attendees considered different materials and mechanisms that could be turned into a brooch and were able to discuss and analyse how to improve mechanisms used in their own crafted brooches. 

Meanwhile, goldsmith Christine Graf explored vitreous enamels, combining colours, surfaces and textures with her group. She shared her knowledge and technical skills through experimentation and exploration, using a range of transparent and opaque enamels on copper and copper mesh, encouraging participants to develop their own application. Attendees were encouraged to bring their own precious metal pieces to investigate how enamel and metals interact within their own work.

Helen Dobson, Programme Manager (Education), who coordinated the week’s training explained:

““Both Daniela and Christine brought a passion and curiosity to their groups and helped all participants to leave with an increased confidence and understanding within their respective skills. As an added bonus, on the final day attendees paired up with someone from the other course to consider and produce an enamelled brooch using the combined skills they had learned. It was great to see participants sharing their new skills so quickly with their colleagues…a great outcome for all!””

The Goldsmiths’ Centre is looking to partner with Further and Higher Education Institutions across the UK to run tutor and technical staff focussed activity each year. In 2019, three Hubs have taken place in Northern Ireland, Scotland and South East England. This initiative aims to bring together networks of goldsmithing, affiliated industry and education with the aim invigorating the trade, sharing knowledge, resources and local expertise and providing access to relevant support and opportunities.

If you want to get involved, please contact us for more information.