Siân Evans

Department of Archaeology

Research Student

Thesis- A Woman in the Forge: Experiences, Perceptions and Mythology

PhD Student Sian Evans
seevans3@sheffield.ac.uk

Full contact details

Siân Evans
Department of Archaeology
Minalloy House
Regent Street
Sheffield
S10 2TN
Profile

In the 1980s Siân studied silversmithing and jewellery in London, before meeting Sussex coppersmith Sam Fanaroff BEM. She went on to serve a four-year apprenticeship at his studio. In 2004, she won a QEST Scholarship enabling her to complete 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.

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 became a Churchill Fellow, allowing 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 Tibetans making religious statues and craftsmen 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 Radcliffe Red List of Endangered Crafts, as one of just five remaining coppersmiths. She has been invited to address the All Party Parliamentary Group for Craft at Westminster to help assess how best to safeguard the heritage crafts of Britain.

Today Siân still produces bespoke copperwork and accepts private commissions. She also works as a STEM ambassador and science show presenter.

Qualifications
  • 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

Thesis- A Woman in the Forge: Experiences, Perceptions and Mythology

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.

Thesis Abstract

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.

Publications

Reports

  • Evans S (2012) Coppersmithing: Researching Ancient Origins, Traditional Techniques & Modern Contexts RIS download Bibtex download

Posters

  • Evans S (2015) Our Lives as Coppersmiths: Exploring Ancient Origins, Traditional Techniques and Parallel Worlds. Fellows' Day at Blenheim Palace. RIS download Bibtex download
Awards
  • 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