top of page

Welcome to...

Dying Arts

In this Bonus Series, Eleanor talks us through the history of endangered heritage crafts and forgotten arts...


Episode 1: Weaving

Eleanor and Martin talk about the ancient craft of weaving...

They start off by discussing the Radcliffe Red List, then move onto what weaving is, find surprising links between goddesses like Athena and Frigg and Artificial Intelligence, and explore the 28,000-year history of a craft we all take for granted.

Episode 2: Parchment and Vellum Making

Eleanor and Martin talk about the dying art of vellum making.

To start, they discuss the differences between vellum and parchment, then describe the processes involved in turning animal skin into stationery...


Lastly, they show a little love to a critically endangered craft with only two professionals practitioners currently active in the UK today - despite it historically being the most reliable way of retaining writing, outside of carving words into stone...


Episode 3: Marionette Making

Eleanor and Martin talk about the dying art of marionette-making.


To begin with they discuss puppetry in general, including the history of the tradition across different cultures, then dig into the specific methods used by marionette-makers and marionettists - art forms which were once ubiquitous across Europe and Great Britain, but which are now only really extant in England at five specialist theatres...

Episode 4: Corn Dollies

Eleanor and Martin explore the dying art of corn dolly making.

They start by discussing the links between European beliefs around 'Harvest Maidens,' 'Corn Spirits,' and elaborately fashioned 'corn tokens,' including English regional variants such as the Worcester Crown and the Yorkshire Spiral.


Then they dig into traditions recorded by James Frazer in his book The Golden Bough as well as techniques, methodology, and recent famous examples of Corn Dollies, such as the stunning straw work figures exhibited by Fred Mizen at The Festival of Britain.

Lion and Unicorn.jpg

Episode 5: Traditional Christmas Crafts

Eleanor and Martin discuss traditional Christmas crafts.


They start of chatting about Midwinter, Yule Logs, and the Ashen Faggot, then discuss the history of the Christingle, old recipes for Christmas pudding, the tradition of the 'Kissing Ball' and 'Kissing Bough' as well as Christmas Trees, Advent Calendars, and Walnut Gilding.


As you might expect, there are digressions along the way, but still, scissors, ribbons, and glitter at the ready. Let's get crafting!

Episode 6: Fan Making

Eleanor and Martin explore the history of Fan Making, a critically-endangered craft.

They start off chatting about the 3,000 year-old legacy of fans from China, Japan, and Africa, then dig into the European craze for fans, including their religious uses, their styles, hidden compartments, and secret language.


After exploring the shifts the 19th century offered around fan culture, including their place in merchandising, make-up, and mass production, they also discuss how and where collections of fans might be seen today, and where to go if you want to learn how to make them using traditional methods...

Fan 4.jpg

Episode 7: Basket and Trug Making

Eleanor and Martin explore the history of Basket and Trug Making, which may just be the oldest crafts of all.

Part of the "Dying Arts" series, they start by discussing the basics, including what a basket really is, including ancient examples from Rome and Egypt.


After chatting about how basket and trug-making were crafts that managed to defy mass-scale industrialization right through until the 20th century, they venturing from Somerset's marshes to Sussex, where the modern trug was born, then rifle about amongst basket folklore, from Moses to Pearina and beyond, before speculating about whether the factories and plastic business have won, or if traditional basket-making can weave its way bank from the brink...

bottom of page