Inigo Jones Slate Works has been producing slate goods for over 150 years. But did you know they also support other Welsh artists? We sent our blogger to investigate…
I was pleased to hear that my latest assignment was a trip to Inigo Jones Slate Works on the outskirts of Groeslon, Caernarfon. Because having visited the shop a few times in the past to buy gifts and show my visiting parents some of North Wales’ best quality slate goods, I’d never really learned that much about the business. Well, all that was about to change!
The purpose for my visit was actually two-fold. I was interviewing the shop’s manager, Sue, for an article I was writing for another client’s blog. But as Prynu’n Lleol also wanted a shopping article with a really local flavour, this was a great opportunity to do both.
As I learned during my visit Inigo Jones Slate Works, which was founded in 1861 and originally provided writing slates to schools, does a lot to support the work of artists from not just the local area, but all over Wales.
Sue told me that local suppliers are essential to the shop’s stock. The business is very keen to support local crafters and artists, and Inigo Jones tend to lean more towards products with a Celtic feel.
Many of the products available at Inigo Jones were made by Welsh artists and makers. There’s a fantastic selection of prints, toys, Welsh-language books, greetings cards, jewellery and even novelty items like greetings cards made from sheep poo!
There’s a wonderful range of pottery on sale at the shop which is crafted by a lady at Glynllifon, for example, and there’s locally-made chocolate too. The slate jewellery is especially popular, as every piece is unique (that being the nature of slate, of course).
And it goes without saying that there’s a vast choice of really beautiful items made from slate, which are created on-site by the company’s own crafters.
What I found quite exciting, being a craftsperson myself, was the fact that artists can have their designs printed onto slate at Inigo Jones for resale through their own sales channels (for example, craft fairs and Etsy stores). Some such pieces even end up on sale at Inigo Jones’ own showroom – some of the clocks currently on sale there are good examples of this.
Well, that certainly got my grey matter working overtime, I can tell you! My head is now full of ideas for things I could print onto slate; next step, have a proper chat with Sue, do some sums, and start designing!
Another way that Inigo Jones encourages artistic ability is through its workshop tours, which are self-guided. These begin with a 10-minute film about the history of slate (which I watched – fascinating stuff), and other tour highlights include an opportunity to try your hand at engraving calligraphy onto a piece of slate yourself. To my mind, this bodes very well for the future of art and crafts in Wales, so if you have a budding artist in your family it’s worth taking them on the tour.
There’s only a couple of weeks left until Christmas, and as usual I’m woefully unprepared. However, I’ve made a big promise to myself this year – namely to do as much of my Christmas shopping as possible with local businesses. I still have a couple of craft fairs to sell at before the big day comes, and I’m fairly confident I’ll be buying at these as well as selling… but I will also be sure to pay a visit to Inigo Jones, along with other local businesses that sell locally-crafted items. My Christmas spirit this year is well-infused with buying locally spirit, I’m very pleased to report!
Products are available at www.inigojones.co.uk and at the Inigo Jones showroom in Groeslon, which is open 9-5 daily including weekends.