From glass-blowing to silver-spinning: The age-old hobbies at risk of dying out

Video report by ITV News Scotland Correspondent Peter Smith

Age-old crafts such as diamond cutting and mouth blown glass making are at risk of dying out in the next generation, according to The Heritage Crafts Association.

More than 20 crafts have been added to their 'critically endangered' category of the HCA Red List, taking the total to over 130.

Old crafts that have been passed down through the generations, ranging from the building of currachs (boats made out of a wooden frame covered with canvass or an animal skin) to the making of glass eyes and compasses are also in danger of being lost forever.

The building of currachs is a hobby that is in danger of becoming extinct. Credit: PA

The HCS said the Covid crisis has exacerbated the problems faced by many craftspeople, with lockdowns and economic issues putting many of them in jeopardy.

Mary Lewis, who led the research for the HCA, said: "Covid-19 has been tough on everyone, not least the craftspeople who possess our most fundamental craft skills.

"Society is rapidly changing around us, and it is more important than ever that we are aware of the cultural assets still available so that we can have an informed debate about what we want to safeguard as a resource for the future.

"If we allow endangered crafts to disappear then we seriously diminish the opportunities for future generations to create their own sustainable and fulfilling livelihoods based on these skills."

Mouth-blown glassmaking is in rapid decline. Credit: PA

While the HCA argues that the UK has been a world leader in the preservation of tangible heritage such as museum collections, the organisation claims it has fallen behind the rest of the world when it comes to the safeguarding of intangible heritage such as knowledge, skills and practices.On the endangered, rather than critically endangered list is hand-stitched kilt-making. There are plenty of mass-produced versions but workshops such as at the Keith Kilt School in Scotland make kilts designed to last a lifetime.

It is not all bad news, however. No new crafts have become extinct since the list was last updated in 2019 and some, such as gilding, which involves applying a very thin coating of gold to an object, have enjoyed something of a comeback.

Gilding, which is the process of applying a thin layer of gold paint, had made a comeback. Credit: PA

Other crafts added to the red list include:

  • Barometer-making

  • Bowed-felt hat-making

  • Hazel basket-making

  • Highlands and Islands thatching

  • Horsehair fabric-weaving

  • Pointe shoe-making

  • Shetland lace-knitting

  • Silver-spinning