Lanarkshire provides the ideal inspiration

A Lanarkshire-based artist creating designs inspired by the landscape, wildlife and fauna is proving popular with tourists and locals alike.

Maggie Lord in her Carnwath studio

Maggie Lord is based in Carnwath, within reach of the abundance of nature in the Clyde Valley and views of the dramatic Pentland Hills.

She is a self-taught artist and produces each piece of unique jewellery; hand-cut and painted in her own distinctive style, available to buy on her website via her online shop.

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Maggie has been in business since 1991 and her range includes wrap and shawl pins, animal brooches and some smaller abstract designs, pendants designed like moths, dragonflies and stag’s heads, using a variety of materials and textures including polymer clay, poly resin and acrylic paint.

Her turnover has grown exponentially from fewer than £5000 in the early 1990s to a high of nearly £100,000 in the last decade and her goods are sold all over Scotland and overseas.

Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on the tourism and events industry.

In partnership with Scotland’s Towns Partnership VisitScotland launched Scotland Loves Local campaign across their channels and the media.

To find out what’s available search for #ScotlandLovesLocal on social media and learn more about some great ways you can support local on VisitScotland’s website.

Maggie said: “I have always enjoyed art and wearing jewellery so when I found myself unemployed and living on the Orkney islands, I decided to take advantage of the wealth of inspiration that surrounded me and create a few items of jewellery which I sold to local craft shops.

“I also met a Sheffield silversmith (Kevin Allen - Orkneyinga Silversmiths) who encouraged me to set up my business. I also learnt silversmith techniques from Kevin and went on to produce a substantial range of Silver jewellery. After selling successfully on Orkney, I attended the Made In Scotland trade show in Aviemore and my business started to grow.

“I buy as much as I can from UK based companies. All my raw materials are made in the UK apart from paints which are supplied by UK companies. I am in touch with local artists and take part in local art events like The Biggar Little Festival.

“Interest in my work has increased over the years as I have become recognised in the Scottish arts scene. My designs are so unique, and they work well with so many textile products.

“I can also adapt my designs to suit a certain style of garment and have been commissioned to produce bespoke designs for established weaving companies.

“The main challenges with my handmade and hand forged silver range was comparison to cast and mass produced silver jewellery companies who could produce jewellery on a large scale, often made abroad at a cheaper price, some of which would browse at trade fairs looking for design inspiration from smaller designers, only to copy them the following year.

“My art jewellery has remained pretty much uncopied apart from a couple of poor attempts over the years. It is very unique and recognisable as Skaramanda.

Marketing is also a challenge as my work is unique and seems to fall into a category of its own. I like to say its” art to wear” – a complimentary accessory rather than jewellery.

Jim Clarkson, Regional Leadership Director (West), VisitScotland said: “It’s been a really difficult year for our tourism-related businesses in Lanarkshire and around the country.

“Despite this, stories of innovation and kindness emerged as businesses offered free stays to frontline workers, made hand sanitisers for communities, and reinvented their products and services to make life easier for those unable to travel.

“When tourism reopened on 15 July, those within the industry worked tirelessly to make experiences safe and enjoyable once again.

“We’re urging people in Lanarkshire to return these acts of goodwill by supporting the businesses across our villages and towns.

“In partnership with Scotland’s Towns Partnership we launched Scotland Loves Local campaign encouraging people to discover the exciting range of unique products available.”

Maggie added: “I am often time poor and work long days but this means that I can take time off when things are quieter.

“The best thing about running my own business is the flexibility and freedom to work and design at my own pace although this is not always possible when deadlines have to be met.

“When I started my business, I was unsure of where it was going to go but I knew I wanted to supply high end stores and outlets. I now supply mainly Scottish outlets but I also have good customers in Eire, USA and Canada.

“Over the years I have supplied – Hamilton & Inches, Jenners (Edinburgh), Scottish Gems (Edinburgh), National Museum of Scotland, Historic Scotland, The Scottish Parliament, National trust for Scotland, VisitScotland, Calzeat, Eilean Donan Castle, Castle of Mey, Glamis Castle, Bill Babe Knitwear (Edinburgh), Judith glue (Orkney) and many more, most are still good customers.

“I would like to adapt my designs on to products other than jewellery and accessories, ie, surface design as I feel my designs are strong enough to work well with other companies looking for new designs.

“In the past, I have been commissioned to do mug designs for Dunoon Ceramics and would like to approach this type of work again.

“I am always increasing my design range but as everything is handmade to order, there is a limit to what I can achieve as a lone artist, that is why I wish to explore other avenues like getting my designs on to third party products.”

For further information of VisitScotland’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic