Department of Archaeology
Thesis - Female Smiths: A Study of the Metalwork and Lives of Women from 1910 to 1920
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Department of Archaeology
10-16 Regent Street
In the 1980s Siân studied silversmithing and jewellery in London, before serving a four-year coppersmithing apprenticeship at Sam Fanaroff’s forge in Pevensey. In 2004, she won a QEST Scholarship enabling her to study for an MA by Project (Metal) at London Metropolitan University and return to the craft she so loved, after a ten-year break as a full-time parent to four.
Between 2009 and 2016 Siân won five Craft & Design Magazine Selected Awards and in 2010 she appeared on Channel 4’s “Kirstie’s Homemade Home”. In 2011 she won a Churchill Fellowship, enabling her to travel and discover the ancient origins of her craft. In France she met coppersmithing descendants of 12th Century knights and studied ancient metalwork in Athens. She journeyed on to the Himalayas to meet Tibetan craftsmen making religious statues and smiths in Tamil Nadu engaged in sacred Hindu metalwork. In 2019 she was invited to Uzbekistan to represent Great Britain at the first International Handicrafters Festival – a UNESCO World Heritage event.
In recent times, Siân has been featured in the HCA Red List of Endangered Crafts, as one of just five remaining coppersmiths, and has spoken at the All Party Parliamentary Group for Craft as part of the debate about safeguarding heritage crafts in Britain.
Today Siân still produces bespoke copperwork and accepts private commissions. She loves outreach work, having also been a STEM ambassador and science show presenter.
Siân is grateful to the Worshipful Company of Tin Plate Workers alias Wire Workers for their kind support and special research award.
- 2018 – Present- PhD Candidate – Department of Archaeology, The University of Sheffield
- 2005- MA by Project (Metal) Art Design and Visual Culture – London Metropolitan University
- 1998- Certificate of Natural Sciences – Open University
- Research interests
I have a research interest in the metalwork of the early 1900s and a general interest in experimental archaeometallurgy. Arriving into academia from a professional craftsperson’s background invites exciting collaborations and my involvement with the University of Sheffield’s Archaeomaterials Research Group is both stimulating and fruitful.
I am a proactive member of the Heritage Crafts Association, supporting an agenda to record, protect and foster tacit heritage crafts skills – and I also remain very involved in the work of the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust.
I love to share my making skills. I am just as interested in why people make things as I am in how they make them.
The lives and work of women metalworkers throughout history have been under-researched, often because perceptions of this craft seem especially gendered. The reasons why this should be, interest me and other female metalworkers, as our own work clearly illustrates that metallurgy and skills in the forge can be practised by anybody.
Whilst maintaining a keen interest in metalwork across a wide archaeological timescape, this particular research focuses on female metalworkers of the early 1900s. Using case studies from home front deployment in the First World War, sweated labour industries and a burgeoning Arts and Crafts Movement, I seek to discover how women metalworkers have been affected by the places and spaces they occupied, the materials they used and the objects they made. How did those things in turn affect them?
This research aims to give voice to the women’s experience, examining artefacts, archives, industrial records, films and photographs. It includes verbal accounts from the women themselves, considers existing literature about them and appraises the meaning and significance of both their skills and the objects they made.
My own experiences over the last thirty years as a professional coppersmith provide a unique insight into how workspaces are created, how different metals are used and how this environment can be negotiated around friendships, relationships and dependants.
Furthermore, my personal responses to the research may include a creative and a practical conversation with the subject matter. In contemplating an object, I may reply by making another.
2022- Arts & Humanities Kroto Research Inspiration Poster Competition Winner
2020- Education Grant and Yeomanry Award from The Worshipful Company of Tin Plate Workers alias Wire Workers – to assist with PhD studies
2019- Represented Great Britain in the 1st International Festival for Handicrafters (UNESCO event) in Uzbekistan
2018- San Miguel Rich List Winner (Artisan)
2009 – 2016- Five times winner of Craft & Design Magazine Selected Awards
2011 – 2018- RSA Fellowship
2011 – Present- Exhibiting Member of the Society of Designer Craftsmen
2011- Churchill Fellowship - Travelling to France, Greece and India to research “Coppersmithing – Researching Traditional Techniques, Ancient Origins and Modern Contexts”
2006- New Entrepreneur Scholarship
2004- Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust (QEST) Award