Another idea that I had for a post was a gift guide featuring all Scottish artists, and then I realized that I only knew of exactly two. So, obviously I turned to Kirsty because she is smart and knows about all things awesome and stylish, and she’s a wonderful writer, and she’s my friend so she had to say yes. Thank you Kirsty. And so it gives me great pleasure to present you with:

A Safe Mooring’s Guide To Gifts Sourced From Scottish Artists


I’ve bought plenty of cheap, mass-produced crap in my time. Nasty polyester scarves that bobbled up the moment you looked at them. Earrings that turned my ears green. Ikea prints that spruced up my walls quite nicely, but also spruced up the walls of every other skint student in every other city in the world.

These days, I try to be a bit more thoughtful in my purchases. I’ve begun to appreciate the value of supporting local, independent artists and makers instead of faceless global corporations. The logic of spending slightly more on a piece that will last ten times longer has become startlingly clear. And, yes, there’s part of me – the special snowflake part – that likes the idea of owning something rare, something special, something one-of-a-kind. There’s a certain satisfaction in responding to compliments (and you will get compliments) with, “Oh, this? It’s by an amazing local designer I found, you’d love her work. Where’s yours from? Primark? Oh.”

So if you’d like to invest in some festive smugness of your own, here are my top picks, all lovingly produced by independent designers and artists right here in bonny Scotland.

It doesn’t get more Christmassy than this Cut Out and Make festive red deer, £5, by Edinburgh-based illustrator Kate McLelland of Finch and Robin. If cutting and making sounds like too much work, there’s a print version for £20, and she’s offering a free Christmas gift on all orders over £20 too.

I’m already a big fan of Glasgow artist Allistair Burt, a.k.a. Hole In My Pocket, so unsurprisingly I love his Christmas collection. These Three Wise Men nesting dolls, £185, would make a very special present for the right person. At the more affordable end of the scale, I’d be chuffed if someone gave me these happy little wooden hanging stars, £9.50.

As the nights draw in and the temperature drops, I spend about 95% of my time curled up on the couch under a blanket. Sometimes I try and persuade the dog to get under the blanket too – hey, electricity’s not cheap and she’s basically a free hot water bottle – but if I had one of these McGhee lambswool striped throws, £124, I wouldn’t be letting the dog anywhere near it.

Scottish artist Holly Sharpe specialises in bright figurative watercolours, but I’m really into her sensual ink and pencil sketches, like this limited edition print, £55. As well as her Etsy shop, you can buy original artwork directly from Holly (that link contains boobs, just so you know).

I recently stumbled upon Julia Smith ceramics and I love the earthy, handmade feel of her work. This pine trees bowl, £20, would be perfect for holding nibbles at a festive gathering, or for a steamy bowlful of wintry soup. Julia will be exhibiting and selling her pieces at Dovecote Studios throughout December as part of Selected – well worth checking out if you’re looking for individual, handmade gifts.

And, of course, a bear in a jumper. Everybody needs a bear in a jumper. This one’s £18 and by Edinburgh-based designer and illustrator Stephanie Webb. It’s also available from Red Door Gallery, which is an absolute treasure trove of talented local artists.

Did I mention it’s cold? It’s very cold. Definitely cold enough to justify treating someone you love to this mini circle scarf, £60, by knitwear designer Hilary Grant.

People say the geometric trend is over. I say come here so I can poke you in the eye with my triangle earrings. I’m particularly enamoured with these copper and turquoise earrings, £16, designed and made in Fife by Lovely Pigeon. I think they’d look quite fetching paired with a Shoal bracelet, £39, from Jane Gowans‘ JG Minis collection.

There’s nothing more irritating than getting to the checkout at your local organic vegetable market and realising you’ve forgotten your 100% natural unbleached cotton tote bag to take your veg home with you. Fortunately that won’t happen with Edinburgh designer Emily Mackenzie’s I Heart Veg tote, £10, because it’s so cute you will never leave the house without it.

Let’s be honest, buying presents for other people can get a bit boring. I think it’s perfectly acceptable – necessary, in fact – to treat yourself to a little something too. This Winner notebook from Showpony is perfect for writing lists, making resolutions and hatching plans, and at £4.50 you aren’t exactly breaking the bank.

Of course, you’ll need somewhere to keep your pencils for all that list-making, so you should probably get yourself one of Laura Spring’s screen-printed pencil cases, £23, too. It’s only sensible.

This Guide To Gifts Sourced From Scottish Artists was brought to you by A Safe Mooring and my Advent Calendar Blogging Project. Feel free to visit my Just Giving Page to donate to my fundraiser for Syrian Refugees. See you tomorrow for more Christmas goodness!  X

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  1. Frances
    Posted December 12, 2013 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    I approve. In fact, as I type I’m waiting to board the train North to spend the weekend buying lovely, unique, Scottish gifts in beautiful Orkney 🙂

  2. Posted December 18, 2013 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

    I now want the bear and the bracelet. Darn!