Rae Gellel
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Goldsmiths' Company Apprentices Lead Skill Swap Session

In the Spring of 2019, Goldsmiths’ Company apprentices were given the chance to share their growing technical expertise with other young and upcoming makers during a special ‘skill swap’ session at the Goldsmiths’ Centre.

The experience saw Sam Hunter, a diamond mounting apprentice at SVS Designs, and Will Sullivan, a silversmithing apprentice at Ottewill Silversmiths, paired with three winners of the Centre’s annual Precious Metal Grant competition: Trudi McVey, Estelle Burton and Belle Park. 

The aim of the day was for the apprentices to guide the winners through the early stages of actualising designs. These designs constituted not only Belle, Trudi and Estelle’s winning entries to the competition, but also their end of year university projects.

Precious Metal Grant winner Belle Park works on a brooch design.

In addition to a grant of up to £750 of precious metal bullion, the opportunity to receive one-on-one guidance from Goldsmiths' Company apprentices formed part of the three winners prize. Though apprentices also represent makers at a relatively early stage in their careers, Sam and Will’s experiences in a professional environment, and their wealth of technical training, meant they had plenty of insight and advice to offer Trudi, Belle and Estelle. Of the twelve total winners of this year’s competition, these three were selected as those who would benefit most from the session, as their designs featured complex components like hinged parts.

Apprentice Will Sullivan and Precious Metal Grant winner Estelle Burton discuss Estelle's design.
Apprentice Sam Hunter and Precious Metal Grant winner Trudi McVey discuss Trudi's design.

The day began with an in-depth discussion between the apprentices and students about the designs, and the inspiration behind them. As a ‘skill swap’, the ultimate goal of the session was for both parties to benefit - and it was hoped that this focus on design would offer a change of pace for Sam and Will, who do not regularly work on pieces from design to completion during their working day.

Trudi McVey using a hand-torch.


After this discussion, the practical work began, with Will guiding Estelle through the process of hand-raising a bowl in our Silversmithing Workshop, and Sam and Trudi using a hand-torch to experiment with soldering pieces of Trudi’s segmented necklace together. This hands-on experience of teaching, and leading a session, was beneficial in itself - particularly in an industry so dependent on the passing of skills from one maker to another.

Will Sullivan guides Estelle Burton through the process of hand raising a vessel.
“As I’m only an apprentice, I’ve not done a lot of teaching before. It opened my eyes up as to how to explain how to do something. Normally I just look at something and get it done without really thinking about how to get the point across to someone else. I think this will be helpful if I start a project and need to pass it on to someone else to complete, as I will be able to explain what needs to be done next.”

– Will Sullivan

Applications close on: Monday 20 January 2020 for BA and MA students and Monday 17 February 2020 for HND students. Apply now.