Judging the Balvenie Master of Craft competition 2012

I am delighted to be joining the judging panel for this years Balvenie master of craft competition along with TVpresenter - Kevin McCloud,  David Stewart -Malt Master,  Anne Cuthbertson - editor of Sunday Telegraph Life, Nick Hand - Expert Crafts Photographer, Robin Wood - Chairman of the Heritage Crafts Association, Melina Keays - Entertaining Director of design magazine Wallpaper and Stephen Dixon Maker trustee of the Crafts Council. The Judges for The Balvenie Masters of Craft 2012

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(L to R) Stephen Dixon, Anne Cuthbertson, Nick Hand, Melina Keays, David Stewart, Ruth Emily Davey, and centre Kevin McCloud, The Balvenie Masters of Craft 2012 judging panel

The Balvenie Masters of Craft 2012, an awards programme which recognises, honours and celebrates highly skilled craftspeople around the UK.

For more information contact Fiona Boston: Fiona.Boston@77pr.co.uk or call +44 (0) 20 7492 0977
http://www.thebalveniemastersofcraft.com/winners-2011/http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sponsored/foodanddrink/balvenie-whisky/http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sponsored/foodanddrink/balvenie-whisky/9209633/celebrating-contemporary-craft.htmlIt has been quite a year since winning the Balvenie Young Master of Craft 2011. I have received a huge amount of support and custom from all corners of Britain and beyond, many have come through the Balvenie directly, many through Robin Woods Blog last year such as a Cambridge priest and a couple who started their own business building tandem bikes.

Unbelievably, this time last year I was making my shoes from the confines of a 12 ft shed at the bottom of the garden, rapidly running out of shelf space. Now I have been able to spread my wings and make shoes in my workshop within Aberystwyth Arts centre’s creative units, a bright spacious artist studio designed by Thomas Heatherwick. It has taken a while to settle in but I have come to love the strange juxtaposition of the old traditional craft in such a modern space. Surrounded by my collected shoemaking tools and machines I am constantly reminded and touched by all the support I have received over this time setting up as a shoemaker.

 Each machine has a legendary story attached; it has been such a journey finding the equipment in an era where Singer machines are collector’s items rather than an indispensible companion to the maker. Amazingly most of the few machines that I require as a shoemaker have somehow materialised all within 50 miles of my workshop. My 1950s Singer post machine which had almost resigned itself to an early retirement after being used to make shoes in Wales over 30 years ago is my closest companion, now firmly placed in its new home, kindly donated from Pam. We worked out my former shoemaking mentor trained on the very same machine all those years ago. And then there is the sole press which was made entirely from scratch by Pete the motorbike builder who spray painted it RED to match my name. The Merkle skiver is over 60 years old, which I traipsed over the other side of London to collect, now in its permanent position with special thanks to Dai Davies for fitting the oak tabletop for it to be positioned on. Then there is the incredible 1920’s combination finishing machine' which has had new life breathed into it after Ian and Angie from Betws donated it from the bottom of their garden. After 20 years of battling the Welsh elements in silent desolation this great cast iron sander now turns beautifully with the help of some WD40 and new motor fitted to turn the wheel and a lovely piece of oak shelf for the shoes fitted by Max.<br>