A student from Falmouth was overwhelmed by the support and interest show in a project she initiated in the hope of resurrecting a range of “forgotten skills.”
Natalie Philpott’s project was inspired by a photograph she found of her great-great-great grandfather, Alfred Webb, who had been a “domestic engineer” specialising in glass and china riveting, saw sharpening and general repairs.
“The photograph of my grandfather is of him standing alongside a cart advertising his business on Prince of Wales Pier in Falmouth, but am unsure of the exact date this was taken,” said the third year fine art student.
“The photograph immediately got me thinking about traditional skills which are being forgotten in our current throw away, consumerist climate, where people no longer 'make do and mend.' I decided to try and gather a network of people with skills such as, sock darning, saw sharpening, bread making, knitting etc and bring them together, in an attempt to remember and celebrate skills which were once a significant part of our everyday life.”
Natalie created beermats, flyers and posters appealing for people with traditional skills to get in touch. She also re-created her grandfather's cart and pulled it through Falmouth's main street as a means of not only promoting the project, but also to engage in conversation with local people about forgotten skills.
Natalie received “quite a few” responses and after meeting some of those who’d come forward she decided to hold a skill sharing event where the public could meet the experts and try their hand at some traditional skills.
This was held at the United Reformed Church in Falmouth last weekend and included skills such as saw sharpening, sock darning, knitting, crochet, spiling, hand sewing, bread making, home-baking and cross-stitch.
“I was amazed at the amount of people who were so keen to come in and get involved,” said Natalie. “There was a point in the day when the hall was so busy, it was difficult to move around. I was also extremely touched at the effort the skilled participants put in to the event.
“Local man, David Cummins, who presented his saw sharpening skill, had actually made a bench from scratch for demonstration purposes, and Rebecca Vinnicombe spent the night before making countless loaves of home-made bread.
“I would like to say a big thank you to all the skilled participants who helped make the event such a success. I would also like to thank everybody who came along to get involved in the skill sharing activities, as well as the local shops and pubs for helping me to promote the project.”