Craftsmen Past and Present in the Town Hall!

Last Saturday saw the culmination of our project, as The Craftsmen of St Andrews Past and Present gathered in St Andrews Town Hall.

The Baxters, Fleshers and Hammermen books on display.

The Baxters, Fleshers and Hammermen books on display.

Trying your hand at calligraphy.

Trying your hand at calligraphy.

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.

Learning about the laser cutter.

Learning about the laser cutter.

The 3D printer in action, making a vase.

The 3D printer in action, making a vase.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

James Lothian, of Minick's Artisan Butchers, demonstrates his craft.

James Lothian, of Minick’s Artisan Butchers, demonstrates his craft.

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.

The old and new butchery techniques shown side-by-side.

The old and new butchery techniques shown side-by-side.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Blacksmith Mihai Cocris demonstrating the craft of the Hammerman.

Blacksmith Mihai Cocris demonstrating the craft of the Hammerman.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Graeme Nicol (centre) with competition winners Frank Riddell and Emily Noakes.

Graeme Nicol (centre) with competition winners Frank Riddell and Emily Noakes.

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.

MakLab's Delphine Dallison explains how to use the printing blocks.

MakLab’s Delphine Dallison explains how to use the printing blocks.

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!

Some of the trades-based designs from the workshop participants.

Some of the trades-based designs from the workshop participants.

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.

Murray Barnett showing how to make the perfect bannock.

Murray Barnett showing how to make the perfect bannock.

The bannocks in the pan. Delicious!

The bannocks in the pan. Delicious!

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:

rsz_laser_printing_lady

rsz_beautiful_bannocks rsz_liked_the_blacksmith rsz_only_buying_haggis_from_minick_now

rsz_ancient_and_modern_combo_was_fascinating rsz_old_books_the_best

 

Thank you to all the project partners, volunteers and visitors who made our event so enjoyable!

See the craft books for yourself!

Mat image

Special Collections has now made the digitised versions of the books available online. You can see them here.

The originals will be on display at our event this Saturday, 7 May, in St Andrews Town Hall. They will be accompanied by our experts from Special Collections, who will be able to answer any questions you might have.

Bakers

This is a rare opportunity to see these books up close, so don’t miss it!

With thanks to Mathew Schwartz for the beautiful images.

 

 

Evil speech and discord in the Fleshers craft

Fleshers-wives-and-bairns

This entry in the Fleshers book, from July 1630, records that freemen of the Flesher craft were to be responsible for their wives’ speech. It seems that talk by ‘certane of the wyffis’ had spread discord within the craft, although the subject of the women’s discussion is not recorded. It was decided that a member of the craft would be fined every time his wife, child or servant ‘spoke evil of a brother of craft, privately or publicly’.

It was essential to answer slander publicly, because reputation was an important way in which people could judge the trustworthiness and credibility of others. Once a man’s good name had been lost it was very difficult to regain. People in all walks of life were careful to protect their ‘renown’, but it was particularly important for craftsmen, because the reputation of the guild was closely tied to its success in the commercial sphere.

A woman’s reputation was gained or lost by her personal conduct, and the social penalties for nonconformity could be severe. If she was accused of inappropriate or immoral behaviour the things people said about her character and past actions became very important. This was true even in court, as there were far fewer sources of evidence which could be drawn upon to support a case.

Unsurprisingly, the Fleshers preferred to handle such disagreements internally. Making a craftsman responsible for the actions of his household could be an effective method of addressing the problem, because he had the most to lose from the opprobrium of his brethren and the imposition of financial penalties. He would therefore be more likely to monitor the behaviour of his wife and servants to ensure they followed the rules.

Transcription

Thomas Phennesoun and remanent brethren of craft understanding that divers and syndreis discordis and dissentiones aryses betuix brethren of craft arryseing upon the great calumnies and eivill speaches of certane of the wyffis. Thairfor it is statut that if ony fremanis wyf barne or servand sall heirefter at any tyme injur calumniat or speik evell of or to ane brothir of craft privatlie or publictlie that the husband of the said wyff offendand sall be answerable for his wyffis fault and for his barnis and servandis under the pane of xl s for the craft fault and to be doublit toties quoties [as often as it shall happen].

 

Health and Safety by the Fleshers

Fleshers-health-and-safety

The first two acts on this page of the Fleshers book deal with the storing of animal flesh – an important concern in a city the size of seventeenth-century St Andrews.

It was forbidden for a brother of the craft to hang flesh up on any stair, or to lay it under any stair, east of the market cross. Anyone who broke this rule would be fined forty shillings each time he did so. Brothers were also not allowed to hang sheep flesh on the common. Instead, they could do so at any freeman’s door, with his leave, or on a fleck. This was a special stand for the display of meat or cheese.

Any Flesher who bought a sick or diseased beast, and attempted to sell it at the market, would be fined ten merks. There were also strict rules about where meat could be sold – brothers were not allowed to use any booth in the marketplace except their own. Allowing an unfreeman to slay an animal in a freeman’s booth was also punishable.

By maintaining these standards the craft also preserved their reputation for producing quality goods. It was the deacon of the craft who was responsible for enforcing the rules. He therefore had to be both a skilled craftsman, and a man of good local standing.

Transcription:

Item it is ordanit withe the consent of the hail breither of craft that na brother of craft, at ony tyme heireftir, upon the merkatt day, hyng thair flesche upon ony staire or lay thair flesche under ony stair be eist the cross under the paine of xl s ilk tyme.
Item it is voted and ordanit with the consent of the hail breither upon the hill that na brether hing thair flesche sheip at the comoun, nor at Androw Dewingis staire, nor na stair exceptit be at ane freimans dur, with his leife, and na uthir wayis or upon the fleckis, under the paine of foure ls ilk tyme ony sall do the lyk.