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Katia Fernandez Mayo December 3 2020

Scotland has a thriving arts and crafts culture, and many local artisans from all over the country still use traditional methods and work with local materials to create authentic and unique products. 

Purchasing local handmade artisan products not only supports the local Scottish economy but also makes wonderfully thoughtful and original presents. From tartan and cashmere to re-used whisky barrel gifts, here are some of the best handcrafted products perfect for gifting or buying for yourself!

Textiles

Scotland is perhaps best known for its rich and diverse textile heritage. Given that Scottish weather can be a tad unpredictable, textile artisans have become masters of everything cosy. Travel in true Scottish style, and make sure to carry soft woollen scarves or fashionable tartan gloves on your next Highland adventure. 

Harris Tweed

Harris Tweed is a luxury cloth made from pure Scottish wool, spun, dyed, and hand-woven by the islanders in the Outer Hebrides. Artisans create a range of vibrant and colourful products, including gloves, purses and handbags, jackets, shoes and even whisky flask covers. By law, all Harris Tweed must be produced in the Outer Hebrides and there is no better place to purchase the original variety of products than on the Isles of Lewis and Harris.

Scottish Tartan

Tartan is a fabric consisting of multicoloured horizontal and vertical stripes on a coloured background. This characteristic Scottish fabric is best known for being used for kilts, the Scottish national dress. Tartan originated in the Highlands and has been used in Scotland for over five hundred years. There are various designs, known as setts, which are typically linked to ancient family clans. Today, tartan designs can be found not juts in kilts, but also in scarves, bags, trousers, and many other items.

Shetland Knitwear

The Shetland Islands are the northernmost of the British Isles, located closer to Norway than mainland Scotland! The particular sheep breed which lives in the Shetland Isles are small sheep with fine wool. As Shetland is rather windy, local craftspeople have been creating the cosiest of knitwear made of soft wool which is very warm, although slightly rougher than lambswool. Shetland wool designs typically follow geometric patterns, reminiscent of Nordic jumpers. You could visit the JuSt Shetland studio in Scousburgh or the Nielanell shop in Sanwick to stock-up on authentic Shetland knitwear. 

 

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Cashmere

Cashmere is a lavish fibre that comes from finely combing the underbelly and guard-hair of the elusive Cashmere goat. While Cashmere goats are not native to Scotland, local retailers such as Johnstons of Elgin, have been producing high-quality cashmere products since the 18th century. Once Cashmere arrives in Scotland, a traditionally complex process of dyeing, blending, spinning, weaving, warping, and knitting follows. This results in silky fabrics which make the cosiest of knitwear. 

Whisky & Wood Gifts

The whisky industry is massive in Scotland, and while Single Malt Whisky is probably one of the best souvenirs buy, there is also a variety of original ornamental products ideal for whisky lovers. Beautiful handcrafted wooden items are often made from recycled whisky barrels and then transformed into unique gifts and furniture. 

Whisky Frames

Frame the best photos from your trip to Scotland in a unique rustic photo frame made from authentic Scotch Whisky barrels. Not only are these frames incredibly original, but they also are sustainable gifts as Edinburgh-based Whisky Frames are part of Zero Waste Scotland scheme. This scheme promotes resource efficiency, where natural resources are reused and nothing is wasted. Some frames come with little touches of Harris Tweed and you could even identify the distillery that your whisky barrel frame came from. 

 

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Whisky Barrel Gifts

In addition to frames, there is a variety of other wonderful uses for retired whisky barrels. Using staves, the part of an unassembled barrel, Whisky Barrel Gifts has a variety of unique creations from cufflinks to candle staves, wine holders, or beautiful Glencairn glass sets. The wood has been previously charred at a cooperage which allows it to deeply absorb the aromas of Single Malt Whisky. Whisky Barrel Gifts are based in Peebles in the Scottish Borders and you can find their products online and in a variety of shops across the country.

Stylish Whisky

Based in South Lanarkshire, Stylish Whisky produces beautifully handcrafted decanters in unique shapes, such as a stag, a globe, Nessie, a pot still, or a barrel. Some decanters are classic and elegant in style, while others are fun and even come with a wee tap. The decanters are filled with Single Malt Scottish Whisky and can be refilled with your favourite malt.

 

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The Smelly Stuff

Soap and candle making are popular crafts all around the country. Using local produce, various artisans create lovely fragrant products which reflect the Scottish natural landscape and aromas – here are some of our favourites:

Isle of Skye Candle Company

The Isle of Skye Candle Company was founded by young local artisan James Robertson back in 2006. The small enterprise started on the Isle of Skye and has now expanded across the Scottish mainland, offering high-quality natural wax products. The Scottish Collection of candles is inspired by seasonal plants and herbs native to the Isle Skye. The Isle of Skye Candle Company now has shops in Skye, Edinburgh, Inverness, Glasgow and St Andrews.

Scottish Fine Soaps

This family-owned business from Stirlingshire has been creating lovely fragrant products for over 45 years. Using indigenous herbs and botanicals, such as sea kelp, thistle and buckthorn, Scottish Fine Soaps offer a luxurious range of bath and body products. Being one of the larger companies on this list, you can find Scottish Fine Soaps products not only in Scotland but also in independent shops in over 50 countries!

ARRAN Sense of Scotland

While visiting the Isle of Arran, you could pay a visit to the home of Arran Sense of Scotland, located in Brodick. Arran Sense of Scotland is world-famous and specialises in bath and body works, handmade soaps, and scented candles, made with essential oils and the purest local ingredients, such as gorse, sea salt and seasoned wood. Each product is inspired by the natural elements in the Isle of Arran and proudly reflects island heritage.

Jewellery

Looking for a unique gift for a special someone or perhaps you just want to treat yourself with a reminder of your trip to Scotland? Whether you’re looking for something contemporary, classic or traditionally Scottish, the country is bursting with talented jewellery makers, silversmiths and craftspeople who offer a diverse range of intricately crafted pieces.

Heathergems

Heathergems are handmade from Scottish heather from the rolling hills in Highland Perthshire. Local heather stems are sustainably collected, cleaned and then dyed with various vibrant colours. The stems are compressed into a solid block which is then cut and shaped into individual pieces. While you’ll be able to find Heathergems online and in almost any gift shop across the country, you might wish to visit the original factory in the Victorian town of Pitlochry.

 

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Sheila Fleet

Orcadian Sheila Fleet is well known as one of the country’s most popular jewellery designers. The unique Sheila Fleet designs have vibrant enamel colours, which reflect the incredible landscapes and traditions of Orkney. Her gallery in Kirkwall is housed within a historic building and it showcases her various designs as well as a variety of unique ceramics, artwork and textiles.

Celtic Jewellery

There are various workshops across the country, who are inspired by Scottish Celtic and Pictish heritage and recreate intricate interlace designs in metalwork. Based in Stornoway, Hebridean Jewellery offers a range of beautiful silver and gold rings, pendants and bracelets. The family-owned business is led by John M Hart, whose father passed on these beautiful designs. Ortak is another well-known brand based in Kirkwall, which sells gifts in striking Celtic knotwork designs.

 

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Pottery

Scottish Pottery comes in all sorts of colours, shapes and sizes. There are various ceramics workshops all over the country, which produce unique items hand-painted with Scottish landscapes, symbols or designs.

Highland Stoneware

Surrounded by the awe-inspiring landscapes of the Far North, Highland Stoneware produces truly incredible hand-painted ceramics in their workshops in Lochinver and Ullapool. Each item is individually hand-painted, showing scenes with coastal and mountainous features. Highland Stoneware artists are encouraged to develop designs, so no two pieces are alike!

Tain Pottery

Located just south of the Royal Burgh of Tain, Tain Pottery produces an inspiring range of ceramics with tartan patterns and floral motifs. This homely studio is housed in a renovated farm steading where you can wander around witnessing master potters transforming raw clay into incredible pottery designs. All items are moulded and painted by hand and reflect themes of the surrounding Highland landscape. 

ANTA

Family-owned ANTA was founded in 1984 with one goal in mind ‘to produce high quality, traditional home furnishings in Scotland, using natural materials’.  Their stunning stoneware ranges from small mugs to large serving plates with their signature tartan design taking centre stage throughout, making them the ideal gift to remind you of Scotland.

 

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Where to Buy?

All the above products can be purchased online and in a variety of stockist shops all across the country. 

In Edinburgh, Cranachan & Crowdie on the Royal Mile and the Scottish Design Exchange in Ocean Terminal are excellent places to seek gift inspiration and buy thoughtful Scottish presents. The House of Bruar, in Perthshire, is also a fantastic retailer where you could probably find most, if not all, of the recommended artisan gifts above.  

While you may have to wait until 2021 to visit the stores and meet the artists in person, we think that a little online shopping is a good alternative until then.

Katia Fernandez Mayo

P.S. Established in Edinburgh in 2004, Absolute Escapes are award-winning specialists in self-drive holidays in Scotland. Our team have turned our love of exploring Scotland into our day job – we know exactly where to find the best accommodation, the best food and drink experiences, and how to turn your trip into an unforgettable one. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if we help you plan your trip to Scotland and get you closer to buying that tartan scarf you’ve always wanted!

Highlights of Scotland

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