The Balvenie Masters of Craft Awards
The Balvenie Masters of Craft Awards champion British craftmanship in the categories of wood, leather, metal, stone, textiles, glass & ceramics, and food. Pictured is Peter Murray, winner of the 'Young Master of Craft' award, working on one of his chairs
(Image credit: press)

As readers of our annual Handmade issues will know, craftsmanship skills are highly prized by team Wallpaper*. So it was with eagerness that we awaited the results of The Balvenie Masters of Craft Awards, which seek out and champion the finest heritage skills and craftsmanship in the UK.

Now in its second year, the competition calls for craftspeople in the categories of wood, leather, metal, stone, textiles, glass & ceramics, and food. This year's overall winner is Heather Gillespie, a copper wheel glass engraver, who studied her craft in a small village in the Bohemian Mountains and whose extraordinary wares are in high demand. Other category winners range from Sam Holden, a cheesemaker who uses a cheddar recipe dating back over a century, to Phil Barnes, who practices the ancient art of enamelling on a metal base with extreme skill.

The eight-strong judging panel, headed up by Kevin McCloud, picked out their winners not simply for their unique skills but for the relevance of their wares in today's society.

It is often said that the most beautiful things are born from the marriage between form and function. This is never truer than in the field of heritage craftsmanship, which makes keeping these time-tested skills alive all the more important. The exponents of these unique skills bring their crafts into our contemporary world of style and design; the 'firebowl' made by Callum Gray (the dry stone waller who won the stone category) for instance, wouldn't look out of place in a contemporary art gallery.

The Balvenie - which has been making its exquisite single malt whiskies at its distillery in the Scottish Highlands for over a century - is an apt backer of an award that celebrates such time-tested skills. To produce whiskies of this quality, it takes a series of extraordinarily skilled processes, and at The Balvenie, the value of human expertise built up over many years, is truly understood. We'll drink to that.

The Balvenie Masters of Craft Awards champion British craftmanship in the categories of wood, leather, metal, stone, textiles, glass & ceramics, and food.

Peter Murray, aka the 'Artful Bodger'

(Image credit: press)

The Balvenie Masters of Craft Awards champion British craftmanship in the categories of wood, leather, metal, stone, textiles, glass & ceramics, and food.

Peter Murray at work

(Image credit: press)

Heather Gillespie, a copper wheel glass engraver, who studied her craft in a small village in the Bohemian Mountains

Heather Gillespie, a copper wheel glass engraver, who studied her craft in a small village in the Bohemian Mountains, was crowned the overall winner for 2012

(Image credit: press)

The Balvenie Masters of Craft Awards

Heather Gillespie at work in her studio

(Image credit: press)

Heather Gillespie's extraordinary wares are in high demand. Pictured is the apparatus used for her creations

Heather Gillespie's extraordinary wares are in high demand. Pictured is the apparatus used for her creations

(Image credit: press)

Alan Jones won the 'Wood' award. A professional thatcher, Jones specialises in growing his own wheat to use both as a perfect thatching material

Alan Jones won the 'Wood' award. A professional thatcher, Jones specialises in growing his own wheat to use both as a perfect thatching material, and an agricultural product

(Image credit: press)

Bob Armstrong won the 'David Stewart Lifetime Achievement' award, which is given to passionate craftsmen

Bob Armstrong won the 'David Stewart Lifetime Achievement' award, which is given to passionate craftsmen who have dedicated their lives to their art

(Image credit: press)

Bob Armstrong won the 'David Stewart Lifetime Achievement' award, which is given to passionate craftsmen

Bob Armstrong won the 'David Stewart Lifetime Achievement' award, which is given to passionate craftsmen who have dedicated their lives to their art

(Image credit: press)

Dry stone waller, Callum Gray won the 'stone' award for his ancient craft

Dry stone waller, Callum Gray won the 'stone' award for his ancient craft

(Image credit: press)

The Balvenie Masters of Craft Awards

One of Callum Gray's striking creations

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Winner of the 'Textiles' award, Di Gilpin is a hand-knitter who uses traditional techniques to create beautiful modern pieces.

Winner of the 'Textiles' award, Di Gilpin is a hand-knitter who uses traditional techniques to create beautiful modern pieces. She debuted at London Fashion Week in 2011

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Winner of the 'Metal' award, Phil Barnes is an engraver/enameller who specialises in the ancient art of enamelling on a metal base

Winner of the 'Metal' award, Phil Barnes is an engraver/enameller who specialises in the ancient art of enamelling on a metal base

(Image credit: press)

Phil Barnes' colour coordinated shelf of ingredients, used for his creations

Phil Barnes' colour coordinated shelf of ingredients, used for his creations

(Image credit: press)

The Balvenie Masters of Craft Awards

The results of Phil Barnes' work

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The Balvenie Masters of Craft Awards

Harness and horse collar maker Terry Davis won the 'Leather' award

(Image credit: press)

Cheesemaker, Sam Holden won the 'Food' award. Sam specialises in making a traditional Cheddar-style cheese from a recipe that dates back over a century

Cheesemaker, Sam Holden won the 'Food' award. Sam specialises in making a traditional Cheddar-style cheese from a recipe that dates back over a century

(Image credit: press)

The Balvenie Masters of Craft Awards

Sam Holden won the 'Food' award

(Image credit: press)

Melina Keays is the entertaining director of Wallpaper*. She has been part of the brand since the magazine’s launch in 1996, and is responsible for entertaining content across the print and digital platforms, and for Wallpaper’s creative agency Bespoke. A native Londoner, Melina takes inspiration from the whole spectrum of art and design – including film, literature, and fashion. Her work for the brand involves curating content, writing, and creative direction – conceiving luxury interior landscapes with a focus on food, drinks, and entertaining in all its forms