Making things with William

William Hutt was a master craftsman and a creative whirlwind. 
Armourer for the Wallace Collection and the Royal Armouries
Leather worker extraordinaire. 
The earliest adopter of Photoshop I knew

Here’s Will being the classiest sort of blacksmith

Will taught me the rudiments of how to sculpt metal by hitting it very skilfully.
He improved my chain-mail making-technique.

And he helped me make my first knife. Look …

My first knife (left), and one of Will’s (right).
Narrow knives are so much more difficult to make
But each of these fits our respective hands.

I’m ashamed to see that these knives are no longer in perfect condition. As I write this, I realise these are the only beautiful things I own that I keep aside and dont use. They are so valuable! Somehow too valuable to use.
Look carefully at them both and you can see our Makers Marks:
– Will’s elegant ‘h’ for Hutt ; and my simple circle with a metal insert
– The marks are positioned on opposite sides of the blades. Since I’m left-handed and Will was right-handed, the placement means you can see the mark as you use your knife

Will let me use some of his horn supply for my handle – while he produced elegant wood for his own knife.

Will was always up for a creative idea.

So when – and this was decades ago – I wanted to try out making an animated film of the skin on my torso, he was – of course – keen to help. We spent a balmy weekend with me standing nearly-naked in a stable, and him trying to construct a jigsaw of detailed photos of palm-sized patches of my skin. That I could later, in some unknown way, glue together. 

We should really have used a macro lens – to get the detail I was aiming at.

In exchange, he told me, he wanted to cast my spine in silicon. We had both enjoyed him trying  me out as a body model for chain-mail: the shirt can’t help but cling to all your curves.

It’s fun, as well as cold and weird, being cast in silicon!

Then when, much more recently, Will had to move house, he told me that “I’ve still got the mould of your spine. Though it has rather degraded.”
And he hadn’t thrown away a pile of A3 hard copy photos of my skin. Unbeknownst to me, he had previously made a flat aggregate image. He sent me a small electronic version – but a bigger one existed. He emailed me: “The main image is 44MB so the follicles are well defined but I’m not really up on current bandwidths & laptop capabilities. I didn’t wan’t to bung up whatever computer you’re using. Besides it is OTT except for a high-quality print.” 

My torso – decades ago

I was EXCITED, to say the least. 
What an opportunity for time travel!

I tried to persuade him to send me the prints – or let me visit. A meeting would allow a repeat cast of my spine – and some more skin photos too.

Recording the ‘degrade’ of my skin and spine was a huge attraction for me

Will wanted a creation meeting too
And he kept telling me he’d be up for something soon.
The last time I rang him about this was at the exact time he was discovered so unwell at home, before he was admitted to hospital for the last time.

Rest in peace master craftsman!
Rest in peace, you genius of fun!

2 thoughts on “Making things with William”

  1. Hi I was just looking to reconnect with William, having been a friend and lost contact some time ago. I am so very sorry to hear that he has passed. He was such a unique and very special person. Thank you for writing this lovely piece about your connection with him. It is so typically William.

  2. Will was a good friend of mine. I met him, when he came fencing to our club to Schaffhausen in Switzerland. Soon we discovered, that we have a lot of thing in common: our fascination for medieval time, good literature, craft work etc. .
    If I remember it right he was a member of the Companie de St. Georges.
    Later on I met him at the British Museum in London, where he restored several things.
    Will impressed me with his knowledges about “everything and nothing”.
    Unfortunately our contact broke up 15 years ago. But I will remember Will as a very bright, sensitive and fine man.



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