Ella McIntosh, Pewtersmith

 13 June 2018

Ella McIntosh is a pewtersmith and owner of THIS IS PEWTER. She works out of the Manchester Craft and Design Centre and runs a workshop programme called ‘Give it a Bash!’. In 2018 she was awarded the Craft and Jewellery Skills Award at Creative & Cultural Skills’ annual awards ceremony.

Ella won the award for her dedication and passion for transferring her craft skills.
Ella won the award for her dedication and passion for transferring her craft skills.

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Ella studied BA (Hons) Designed Silversmith and Jewellery at Buckinghamshire University and graduated in 2007. During the final year of this degree she specialised in the metal Pewter after winning the 2006 Pewter Live Open Competition with her work.

THIS IS PEWTER

In 2012 Ella opened her studio and workshop in the Manchester Craft and Design Centre (MCDC) and launched her pewtersmithing business under the name THIS IS PEWTER. As THIS IS PEWTER she designs and handmakes contemporary pewter home and table ware which ranges from vases to spoons and includes client commissions.

In the same year she launched a workshop programme called Give it a Bash! which promotes and teaches traditional pewtersmithing and metalwork skills in Manchester and around the North West.

She launched a workshop programme called Give it a Bash! which promotes and teaches traditional pewtersmithing and metalwork skills

The programme is for people who have never worked with pewter before, and it gives them a chance to come and try it out – both designing and making a product.

“My day to day varies enormously which is an exciting aspect to my work,” said Ella. “The majority of my time is spent either in the workshop handcrafting my pewterwares or teaching skills to budding pewtersmiths.

“In between these two aspects of my work I can be found showing my work at various craft and design shows throughout the UK, talking to visitors in my workshop and drinking lots of tea!”

Sharing her craft

She runs workshops at MCDC as well as ‘on the road’, travelling across the country with her workshop equipment. She takes her skills into schools, adult learning groups and festivals such as the National Festival of Making and Manchester Science Festival.

For Manchester Science Festival 2017 she delivered a three-hour workshop with  over 100 participants, both adults and children. They used a rolling mill to decorate and shape a piece of pewter, then used stamps and a hand drill to turn their pieces into keyrings.

Throughout the past four years she has worked with MCDC to give talks to a range of groups – from college students hoping to follow a creative career path, to a community group of people who have struggled to gain employment and are working on transforming their creative hobbies into businesses.

Each year she supports an emerging craft maker in her studio through the Future Makers programme, offering retail space to a maker at the very start of their career.

Looking to the future

Ella is currently working on her Autumn/Winter programme of Give it a Bash! Workshops.

“I'd like to introduce more skills into my programme line-up,” she said. “An advanced class has been requested for those who have got the Pewtersmithing bug following a workshop. I'm super excited about this as my attendees return to show me what they've been making with the skills I have shared.”

Ella says that winning the Craft & Jewellery Skills Award has motivated her to expand the work she does supporting new talent.

Ella says that winning the Craft & Jewellery Skills Award has motivated her to expand the work she does supporting new talent.

“As a maker I set up Give it a Bash! workshops to share my passion for the material I work with, the benefits of being creative and the multiple benefits of learning a new skill.

“Receiving the award is a privilege which motivates me to take this further. In the future I hope to be able to offer intern or apprenticeships for new Pewtersmiths or those thinking of a creative career.”

Craft & Jewellery Skills Award winner 2018

Ella won the award for her dedication and passion for transferring her craft skills.

She said on winning: “It felt fantastic, if a surprise, to win the Craft and Jewellery Skills award.

“To be shortlisted among such highly regarded industry peers was an honour and demonstrated how the craft and jewellery industry is dedicated to sharing the skills that have been passed down to them through generations of makers and creators.

“Thank-you to Creative & Cultural Skills, the judging panel and to the person who nominated me for the award. And thank you for providing such valuable support to the industry.”


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