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Freeman Students Get Creative for Natspec Awards

September 17 2020

Natspec, the membership association for specialist education colleges and schools launched its innaugral Natspec Awards this month, aiming to recognise and celebrate those in the sector who have continued supporting their learners despite the uncertainties and challenges presented by the Covid-19 crisis.

With our students and pupils at the heart of everything we do, we were honoured when Natspec asked our students at Freeman College in Sheffield to design the new awards’ trophies, giving them a perfect opportunity to flex their creative muscles.

With a focus on metal work inspired by Sheffield’s heritage, as well as lessons in wood working, our talented students were in a perfect position to design and build a trophy fitting for the awards.

Rick Reeve, one of our pewter tutors at the college, asked the students to “think outside the box”, and look at designs away from the traditional ‘cup’ style trophy:

“We looked at all the designs and picked out elements from most designs. Some of the inspiration from student designs came from things such as a yacht’s hull all the way through to medieval shields. A couple of the designs also incorporated other elements such as wood.”

Some of the designs the students originally came up with

The students eventually settled on using wood for the main body of the trophy, having recently spent time in lessons thinking about the environment and sustainability.

“We used reclaimed timber for the main body, and scraps of pewter from previous projects that we melted down” said Rick.

“We wanted to keep the idea as simple as possible to limit the number of machines that were required and make it more human powered.”

After sourcing the timber and cutting it down to the right size, the students then charred it with a blow torch to bring out the grain and enhance the timber, which was then sealed with a lacquer. The pewter was measured, marked and cut to size, and then scored ready for bending, the holes were then cut into to metal following a template using a hole saw on a pillar driller. The pewter was filed and cleaned, it was then formed to shape around a template block and then buffed, greased and polished. Once this was done it was attached to its corresponding piece of wood and sent for engraving.

Freeman student Omolade brings out the grain of the wood with a blowtorch

“It is very scary using the flame, but I did it on my own after doing it together.”

Omolade, student at Freeman College

Working as part of a team in a spirit of collaboration, the students took guidance from the tutors before taking on some of the more intricate and skilled work themselves, creating a trophy that they, and everyone at the Trust can be proud of.

Joe measuring the pewter before cutting

“I measured and scored a line on the pewter as a guide for the guilotine. I’m a bit of a perfectionist, so I measured it a couple of times to make sure.”

Joe, student at Freeman College

Guiding the students through the process, tutor Rick was proud of the work the group produced:

“From me personally, it was a great opportunity for myself, the students and the college to be asked to produce trophies for NATSPEC, I hope all the students are able to see elements of their designs in this trophy and consider it an award for themselves.”

Carole Baugh, Freeman College’s Social Enterprise & PSTE Producer has worked on a number of projects with Natspec before, but was delighted with the way the students developed and produced such high quality work:

“I have participated in many projects with Natspec. They are student inclusive and give FMC students a great opportunity to share ideas with other specialist colleges. I am delighted that FMC could make a contribution to Natspec awards 2020”

The finished trophy, and in its various stages

See the full list of award winners at the 2020 Natspec Awards

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