Updated: Jul 14, 2023
I was involved in project managing a pre-apprenticeship project in Cornwall from Dec 2022 - May 2023 and as part of it I was tasked to write a report ! :) If you fancy a read please see it below:
Penwith Pre-apprenticeship project report 2022/2023 by Anna Pope (Freelance Pre-apprenticeship Project Manager).
This report highlights what happened, any problems encountered and what the positive outcomes were (expected and unexpected).
In 2017 Heritage Crafts undertook an Ernest Cook Trust funded project to pilot a new programme of pre-apprenticeships in countryside crafts in West Somerset.
Three craftspeople were selected to each take on three young people over the course of six weeks to get a taste of what it would be like to have a career in heritage crafts. The project was designed to take the risk factor out of initial encounters between craftspeople who were considering taking on young people, both in terms of the financial risk of taking time away from productive work and the experience of young people crossing the threshold into an unfamiliar environment. The project resulted in one trainee taking on a permanent apprenticeship position, as well as the creation of an advisory document: Getting into heritage crafts: Pre-apprenticeship first contact opportunities for young people and heritage craft businesses.
Heritage Crafts were commissioned by Penwith Landscape Partnership to replicate this programme in Penwith in West Cornwall between December 2022 and May 2023. The three crafts practitioners had already been identified. Coppersmithing, basketry and Cornish hedging.
Heritage Crafts is (registered as The Heritage Crafts Association CIO 1159208).
Jones, G. (2020) Weaving willow. Available at: URL (Available on Instagram page geraldinejonesbaskets. (Accessed 6th June 2023).
Pope, A. (2023) Cornish hedge example. [Photograph].
Crolla, A. The Copper Works Newlyn.[Photograph].
The Copper Works, Newlyn http://thecopperworksnewlyn.com/ first established in 1890, is renowned for creating high quality hand crafted copper work. They were considering taking on a new member to join their small team as an apprentice.
It was agreed at the start that Michael Johnson, the Director/Principal Craftsperson at The Copper Works Newlyn, would train no more than two participants at one time. They were to be taught by Michael and his colleague Adam, a Craftsperson at The Copper Works Newlyn. The training would be spread over a two week period Monday - Friday 9.30am - 4pm. The dates were February 27th and 28th, March 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th 2023. These days and times slotted in well with their usual working week.
What was involved e.g. structure of course:
Michael created a course plan that was very flexible and allowed room for it to be adapted/changed throughout, to suit the participants interests and abilities.
The first day was based on learning some basics about copper, exploring its properties and how they relate to the production process and the requirements of each specific application. He aimed for them to explore various gauges, including the relative strength and ductility of the material.
The remaining days were split between 1:1 guided tutoring and time spent working alongside Michael and Adam on a current Copper Works project, then on to their own self-guided work/exploration.
He aimed for each participant to complete at atleast one item to take away with them.
Anna Pope, the newly appointed Heritage Crafts Freelance Pre-apprenticeship Project Manager, had planned to be present during the first session, to ensure all the necessary paperwork was completed, to record the workshop through photography/video and to ensure that the participants and trainers were settling in well. She also planned to be present at the second to last session, to have a 1:1 mentoring session with each participant, to gather feedback and further digital recordings.
Pope, A. (2023) Some of The Copper Works tools. [Photograph].
We had two strong candidates and one on the waiting list.
The two successful applicants were Samantha from Newquay, Cornwall, age 24 and Kei from St. Ives, Cornwall, age 23. Both applicants had some experience in working with metal, Kei hadn’t worked in copper before and Samantha had used it on a small scale for making jewellery.
Where did they hear about the opportunity:
Samantha - Penwith Landscape Partnership advertisement
Kei - Cultivator Cornwall
Why they applied:
Kei applied as she is an artist who predominantly works with metal and wanted to explore copper as a medium in her work. She also wanted to further develop her metalworking skills. Her long-term goal is to become a university Art Technician, specialising in metal work.
Samantha applied as she has an interest in metal work and in preserving traditional cultural practices. She had worked in copper whilst making jewellery during short courses, however she had felt limited to modern designs and wanted to explore the metal in a different way.
Pope, A. (2023) Kei experimenting at The Copper Works. [Photograph].
Pope, A. (2023) Samantha experimenting at The Copper Works. [Photograph].
Both participants had 100% attendance.
Samantha and Kei found the course very positive and they enjoyed the relaxed approach to the course, allowing them to experiment and explore ideas that interested them.
Kei said ‘I enjoyed how the course allowed me to explore exactly what we wanted to make and provided space to make mistakes, experient in order to get to know the tools and materials.’
They completed more than one item, which they took home with them. These included copper bowls, cutlery, a candelabra and a floral wall hanging. They had the opportunity to learn about a live project, which was an elaborate door commission to be embellished with hand-made copper leaves. Samantha and Kei explored making copper leaves, which they incorporated into some of their final pieces.
Samantha -‘I really enjoyed everything I did and would definitely like to explore copper more, perhaps in an apprenticeship or on the job training’.
Pope, A. (2023) Kei and Samantha’s copper bowls. [Photograph].
Pope, A. (2023) Kei’s copper cutlery. [Photograph].
Pope, A. (2023) Samantha’s floral wall hanging. [Photograph].
Pope, A. (2023) Kei’s candelabra. [Photograph].
Pope, A. (2023) Close up of Samantha’s bowl. [Photograph].
Pope, A. (2023) Close up of Kei’s candelabra. [Photograph].
Pope, A. (2023) Close up of Samantha’s floral wall hanging. [Photograph].
Pope, A. (2023) Close up of Kei’s copper bowl. [Photograph].
During a 1:1 mentoring session with Anna Pope, Kei told her that hearing discussions with clients regarding business consultations and pricing were really interesting and that she would like to explore copper further in her art practice. She was left feeling ‘...confident in my new abilities.’
Kei is planning to continue using her new coppersmithing skills in her art practice.
Michael told Anna Pope that he found the opportunity to pass on skills to young people fulfilling and he believed that the participants had learnt a lot throughout their time there. He found it interesting to witness how they reacted in this environment.
Despite this positive result, The Copper Works didn’t feel that they had found their future apprentice this time, however they have offered both of them the opportunity to come back for advice. They have also asked Samantha to come back for a paid opportunity to work with them for a couple of weeks on a project.
‘She also knows that this is not intended to lead on to further work or an apprenticeship, but we are certainly open to seeing what the future holds for Samantha and TCW.’ (Michael).
Overall Michael felt that the experience was positive, but believes that a few changes could be made in the recruitment process, in order to find potential apprenticeship candidates e.g. involvement in the application process.
‘For the most part I think it was very successful and I would only tinker with the process should we do something similar together again.’ (Michael)
Pope, A. (2023) Michael teaching Samantha. [Photograph].
Pope, A. (2023) Michael and Adam conducting an introduction to the workshop with Samantha and Kei. [Photograph].
Pope, A. (2023) Samantha and Kei exploring the workshop. [Photograph].
Pope, A. (2023) Adam, Samantha, Kei and Michael on day 1. [Photograph].
Geraldine Jones is an established basket maker living in Cornwall https://www.geraldinejones.co.uk/. She has an interest in learning ways in which the next generation of basket makers could be taught the craft.
Basket makers ordinarily learn their skills by attending short courses and become sole traders. The pre-apprenticeship formed a good model for Geraldine to explore a mentoring approach, as opposed to an apprenticeship, which included teaching skills alongside some advice on next steps into setting up a business.
Geraldine was seeking three participants, ideally one from the Kerrier district, another from Penwith and the last from the Isles of Scilly. The training was agreed to be spread over 9 days in total which were 10 am - 4.30pm. The dates were Fri 17th March, Thurs 23rd, Fri 24th, Thurs 30th, Fri 31st, Thurs 6th April, Friday 7th April, Thursday 13th April, Friday 14th April. This allowed time for the participants to reflect/practice and also continue their other life commitments in between sessions.
What was involved e.g. structure of course:
Geraldine created a detailed scheme of work to develop skills and interests in basket weaving which also included business advice and guidance. She planned for practical basket weaving sessions, largely in willow, to be carried out inside her studio at Salt Cellar Workshops in Porthleven, Cornwall http://www.saltcellarworkshops.co.uk/about.html and from her willow garden nearby. This also included learning about growing and harvesting materials, particularly willow.