Last Saturday saw the culmination of our project, as The Craftsmen of St Andrews Past and Present gathered in St Andrews Town Hall.
Our staff from Special Collections were there, with the Baxters’, Fleshers’ and Hammermen’s books and a fantastic variety of palaeography (old handwriting) and calligraphy tasks for people to try out.
MakLab were also on site, to showcase the crafts of the future. They brought a 3D printer, laser cutter, a vinyl cutter and a heat press, so that our visitors could see this exciting equipment close up, and try it out for themselves.
The first demo of the day was by Stuart Minick, of Minick’s Artisan Butchers, and his colleague James Lothian. This was a fascinating insight into the skills required to ‘bust down a lamb’, with Stuart talking us through his work, from sourcing meat to producing haggis.
He underlined how important it is to buy local produce, and talked about the years of training needed to become a flesher, while James prepared half a lamb according to traditional methods, and the other half using modern techniques.
In the afternoon blacksmith Mihai Cocris talked us through the properties of various metals, letting us see, and hear, the differences between them. He showed us the ways that metal could be joined, and talked about how the techniques had changed over the years, demonstrating different tools along the way.
At two o’clock, Graeme Nicol awarded the prizes for our photography competition. Graeme is a former Deacon Convener of the Seven Incorporated Trades of Aberdeen, and was kind enough to say a few words about his organisation before he awarded the prizes.
The photographs were the result of a challenge set to St Andrews Photographic Society, to capture the craftspeople of North East Fife in action. Congratulations to Frank Riddell, Emily Noakes and Chris Reekie who all won prizes.
After this, MakLab ran a workshop where participants could print their own design onto a tote bag. First they had to cut out their printing blocks on the laser-cutter, before using the ink to create their finished product. Messy but fun!
The last demo of the day came from Murray Barnett, of G H Barnett & Son bakery. Murray talked us through the process of making bannocks, as well as the different techniques and skills that bakers have to learn.
He told us a bit about the history of his company, how long it takes to train as a baker and how science and art combine in the baker’s craft.
Here are some of the comments that our visitors left about the day:
Thank you to all the project partners, volunteers and visitors who made our event so enjoyable!