Shanty Festival Weekend Riddle

This weekend should have seen the Teign Maritime Shanty Festival in full swing and in brilliant sunshine! So to take away some of those blues, here is a riddle and some great news:

What is the difference between a Sieve and a Riddle? Well, according to Steve Overthrow, the only Traditional Sieve & Riddle Maker in England, the difference is that a Sieve has a pre-made mesh trapped between two pieces of wood, and a Riddle is completely woven by hand, wire by wire.

Steve first heard of Sieve and Riddle making via the Heritage Crafts Association’s red list of endangered crafts in June 2017. He had mainly been working for a vintage car restorer for the 9 years leading up to that, specialising on cars from the 1920’s and 30’s. That job was about to move up country and he was looking for something heritage linked to continue to be involved with, which also allowed him to stay at home here in the West Country.

While reading the endangered list, he saw that Sieve and Riddle making was extinct and had been since 2013. So he did some research, found very little and after few months of thinking about it, cracked on and made the tooling to be able to make the Sieves and Riddles.

A few months afterwards he completed his first sieve, and then a few months later he completed his first riddles, which were fishing riddles used on ‘The 1900 Island’ for the BBC –  as can be seen in the photograph of one of the families on the 1900 island, one of his riddles is pictured. They had a 20×20 mesh and were used on the show for cockle and mussel picking, but are also used in shrimp harvesting.

He produces all the way down from a 22″ /20mm grid fishing riddle to a 200-500 holes per linear inch one for ceramics, in a 6″ hoop. As well as fishing riddles, the range of applications also covers gardening, baking and foundry tools. He is the only producer in England, and only one of two in the UK, though he is the only full time maker.

This craft allows him to combine his love of tough British made tools with an interest in steam bending. He intends that everything he produces will last a lifetime, and uses only natural or recyclable materials.

His tools are now working at inshore fisheries all around the country, and already in gardens all over the world.

The festival is delighted to be able to announce that Steve will be joining us at the 2021 festival to talk about his work, with examples for people to look at and purchase.



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Shanty Festival Weekend Riddle