english girl at home

A Sewing & Knitting Blog, Made in Birmingham, England

A Love Story about Scissors

27 Comments

Ernest Wright & Son, Sheffield

The current issue of Love Sewing Magazine (issue 25, on sale now until late April) features my profile of Ernest Wright & Son. The article discusses the company and the steps involved in making their scissors (plus there’s an opportunity to win a pair of dressmaking shears), but I also wanted to talk about my visit here.

Ernest Wright & Son, Sheffield

Ernest Wright & Son, Sheffield

I proposed the article to Love Sewing and – having received a positive response – took a day off work and visited Ernest Wright & Son during January at their Sheffield factory.

If you’re unfamiliar with the company, they have been making scissors in Sheffield since 1902. Sewing/craft is one of the company’s specialisms (the other major one being kitchen scissors).

Ernest Wright & Son, Sheffield

Ernest Wright & Son, Sheffield

The factory has a small shop which is open to the public and is well worth a visit. Not only can you select a pair of their scissors in person, the shop also contains a display about the company’s history, and a window onto the factory floor where you can see the scissors being made.

Due to visiting on behalf of Love Sewing, I had the opportunity to go ‘behind the scenes’ to see the full process of making a pair of their scissors, and meet the team.

Ernest Wright & Son, Sheffield

Ernest Wright & Son, Sheffield

I’ve had the opportunity to visit and interview a few companies recently (mainly on behalf of Seamwork), and absolutely love getting the chance to mooch around factories and see things being made. But very few companies are as welcoming and as generous with their time as Ernest Wright & Son. I knew I was on to a winner when they made me a tea moments after I walked through the door;)

Ernest Wright & Son, Sheffield

Ernest Wright & Son, Sheffield

Despite the fact that I am not a journalist or photographer (my full-time job is as a project manager at a University), the team at Ernest Wright demonstrated the full process of making a pair of scissors for me – including turning on the very noisy ‘rumbler’ and dryer machines which are used to clean and dry scissors, and painting the handles of their dressmaking shears so I could photograph them hanging to dry. (P.S. if you’ve assumed from the images online that the Colours range have coloured plastic handles, they don’t, they are metal handles which are painted by hand).

I left the factory totally in love with this company and their products. Partly, of course, because of the heritage they represent, as a fifth-generation family-owned company  which is one of the last remaining examples of a historically thriving industry. But most of all because of the great people who work there and their enthusiasm for the products they produce.

Ernest Wright & Son, Sheffield

Ernest Wright & Son, Sheffield

As a small independent business, the company face issues around cash-flow and seasonality of demand, as well as wider issues caused by the decline of the local steel industry and competition from cheaper machine-made imports. Given that their products are guaranteed for life, limited repeat business is also an issue for the firm.

If you are able to support the company (from buying their scissors, to following their social media accounts), they are a company who truly appreciate the support. And if you get a chance to visit them in Sheffield or at a craft show (they typically attend the Knitting & Stitching Show, & the Handmade Fair), do, and I suspect you’ll fall for the company too.

For more information see:

Love Sewing Magazine, issue 25

Two short films about the company: The Putter by Shaun Bloodworth, and Disappearing Art for the BBC

Ernest Wright & Son Website

Ernest Wright & Son on Instagram

The factory:

Ernest Wright & Son, Sheffield

Scissor painting in progress:

Ernest Wright & Son, Sheffield

Ernest Wright & Son, Sheffield

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Author: Charlotte

Sewist, crafter & blogger, based in Birmingham, England. I'm spending the year growing and gathering to create natural dyes and enhance my sewing projects. Find me at www.englishgirlathome.com

27 thoughts on “A Love Story about Scissors

  1. I will put a pair of their scissors on my Christmas list – they look very good.

  2. Even though you are not a professional photographer I think these images are so dreamy! What a great profile on scissors. Excellent idea!

  3. Great idea for an article, well written and interesting – and great photos too! What a star you are! I will buy the pair of scissors I need at the knitting and stitching show – if I decide I can wait that long!

    • Thank you very much! I’m planning to attend the Knitting & Stitching Show this October for the first time, so thought I might treat myself to a pair then too:)

  4. These scissors are beautiful. I find it really heart-warming hearing from people who enjoy their jobs and take joy in their craft – makes such a refreshing change. They even do left-handed scissors – perfect for my other half!

    • Yeah it’s a great place – lots of factory-floor banter, but also lots of passion for the product and the skill involved in making it. I didn’t mention it here as it’s in the Love Sewing article & I didn’t want to duplicate, but the decision to make left-handed scissors for each design is a really big decision for the company, since the cost of a new design is £20 – 30,000 & that is doubled if they also introduce a left-hand version. I find all that behind-the-scenes business info fascinating, & it’s something i’d never think about.

  5. Lovely article and the pics are fantastic. These are now on my want list.

  6. Wow, great post – I never knew scissors could be so interesting or that so much hard work goes into a good pair. Fascinating pictures too, I love the photos of the freshly painted scissors drying!

    • Haha nor me before I visited! Seeing them being sharpened and carefully screwed together by hand reminds you why they cost more than a machine-made pair. Glad you like the pictures – I had lots of fun taking then:)

  7. As a sewist myself, scissors are an important part of my toolkit. I buy the best ones I can afford and look after them (woe betide anyone who uses my fabric or embroidery scissors for anything but fabric and thread!), my current fabric scissors came from John Lewis’ and are made in Sheffield, though they don’t say who manufactures them. I remember seeing the BBC programme about Ernest Wright and Sons and saw the passion of the people who worked there.

    Thanks for reminding about this fantastic company.

  8. I read the article and fell in love, and even though I have a few handmade German scissors and shears I still consider supporting this business. Must take a look at their website again, I think. Great photos and great article!

    • Thank you so much. It’s definitely worth watching the short films made about the company on their site. x

      • I have watched them! Even showed my hubby, who can’t recall it all all now, lol. I absolutely adore watching skilled craftsmen (and -women) at work. Doesn’t matter what it is, but to watch someone with loads of experience and an intimate knowledge of their material and craft at work is one of the best things there is.

  9. They have been on my Christmas list the last two years and I love the two pairs I now have. They will continue to be on my list until I have all the scissors for which I could possibly have any use.

    I have followed them on IG now. I really hope they keep making it through.

  10. Great stuff. Good to see Ernest Wright & Son getting some positive coverage. A couple of years ago I had the opportunity to take some photographs of their scissors. If you are interested to take a look they are here: https://postcardcafe.wordpress.com/2014/07/01/made-in-sheffield-ernest-wright-son-limited/
    Best wishes
    Mr Cafe 🙂

  11. I am going to treat myself next time I get paid – it’s such a pleasure to use good tools.

  12. Thanks for sharing, especially since that magazine isn’t common on my side of the pond, and nice job on the article! Your connection with the people behind the business really shows in the photos and your comments.

  13. Pingback: Supporting Independent Businesses / Ernest Wright & Son Kickstarter Campaign | english girl at home

  14. I signed up to the Kickstarter project for Kutrite kitchen scissors to give to a friend. Very cool!

  15. Pingback: In Conclusion, My 2016 | english girl at home

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