Ernest Wright & Son - Interview
20 August 2014
Ernest Wright & Son is a family company that has been hand-making the finest scissors and shears in Sheffield, England since 1902. Their high-quality, lifetime-guarantee scissors and shears are still made using traditional skills that have been passed down from generation to generation.
We spoke to Nick Wright of Ernest Wright & Sons ahead of their demonstration at our temporary London Design Festival space, where members of the public can meet the next generation of "professional scissor putter-togetherers," Jamie Boden and Ryan Lamond, as well as the established masters of the craft, Cliff Denton and Eric Stones. As fourth generation owner of this family business, Nick will be on hand to explain the scissor maker's tools, such as the stiddy and brake, and show how the blades must curve perfectly to contact at the exact cross-cut point.
Can you tell us who you are, where you were born and where you are now based?
My name is Nick Wright, and I am the fifth generation of a scissor-making family. I was born here in Sheffield, England. I've travelled far and wide on occasion since, but I have never found reason to leave!
How would you describe what you do?
I manage my family business, Ernest Wright and Son Limited. We have been hand-making scissors and shears in Sheffield for well over 100 years.
What tools and materials do you use in your work? Do you have a favorite material and is there a tool you couldn't do without?
We use carbon steel extensively - we feel it holds its edge best for most types of scissors. My favourites, my own pair of kitchen scissors at home, are stainless steel (and older than me!).
Our main tools are our hands! Along with the stiddy, the brake, the hammer and, of course, the wheel.
Can you remember the first thing you made?
From a company perspective no I can't! But we do still hold examples even from our earliest days. My youngest memory of the factory is working the old electro-etching machine during my schools holidays. That and the glorious smell of oil!
What do you feel the role of makers and designers is today?
To keep mass-production and all its dull foibles at bay.
Can you tell us what you're presenting with SMP at LDF?
I am bringing our young apprentices Jamie and Ryan, to demonstrate that 'old' skills can be - and are being - passed down to new generations. The way they always should have been!
Why should people come and get involved?
'Made in Sheffield' - 'Made in England' - 'Made in Britain'. Lest we forget!
Thanks Nick! Drop-in and meet Nick and the rest of the team on Tuesday 16th of September at our space at 73 Leonard Street, EC2A 4QS.
Images courtesy of Ernest Wright & Son