Highland Stoneware is a brand that we have a lot of history with here at The Square Peg. As one of our longstanding suppliers and producers of some of the finest pottery we’ve ever set eyes on, we thought it was only fair to tell you a little bit more about them and why their hand painted pieces are so popular as collectors items and make such wonderful gifts.
Highland Stoneware was formed in 1974, by David Grant, while studying at the Royal College of Art in London. He is still very actively involved with the Company and decorates many of the current designs. With support from his professor, David Queensberry and tutor Grahame Clarke, he set up to manufacture in the North West Highlands of Scotland, returning to the rugged landscape where he grew up.
So, from small beginnings, the company has now grown to employ 19 people at their Lochinver site and a further 5 at Ullapool. They openly welcome visitors to both potteries, where you can walk through the workshop to see all the stages of production and talk to the skilled crafts people while they work. Either place is well worth a visit, it's such a fascinating trip plus each has a very tempting factory shop!
All of the clay, glazes and decorating colours, are mixed to their own recipes, and made by them in Lochinver. Each piece is carefully modelled, assembled, and finished by hand. It is then skilfully free-hand decorated by one of their small team of artists, who are encouraged to innovate and develop designs, making each pot different. This means that when somebody buys a gift of Highland Stoneware as a present or for themselves, they know that it is a true one-off.
One of the best features of Highland Stoneware pottery is that as well as being mini works of art, they are also perfectly practical – and intended for everyday use. They are oven and freezer proof, dishwasher and microwave safe, as well as being extremely resistant to chipping.
They create new designs every year, however, here at The Square Peg we do have a few favourites, mostly because these are the ones that we are asked for time and time again. In no particular order, we have...
Seascape - The varied colours are inspired by the famous North West of Scotland beaches, which look inviting, but only the brave can stand the cold sea! This Seascape Pot Stand is a perfect example of how these pieces can be as beautiful as they are functional.
Landscape - The amazing scenery around the pottery gives plenty of inspiration for these views of West Coast mountains and lochs. This pattern is painted by several artists whose individual styles are quite varied. This image shows a collection of Landscape mugs and is an excellent example of just how diverse the artwork can be from piece to piece:
All of these are "Landscape" but you can see instantly the variations in colour, design and style between each mug.
Machair is a pattern inspired by the indigenous flora of the Hebridean coastal grassland known as ‘the machair’ and uses a lovely selection of soft, subtle colours for a delicate look. It's reminiscent of breezy beach days and uses a really pretty colour pallet. This Machair Quaich makes for a meaningful gift idea as a quaich is a traditional gift of friendship. The shallow, two-handled drinking cup was supposed to symbolise trust between the two drinkers and therefore makes it a very popular wedding gift.
Ledmore is a new favourite of ours which we discovered this year at the Scottish Trade Fair in Glasgow, where this very Cappuccino set was awarded silver in the best product award. New for 2020, the Ledmore decoration is a geological glaze developed using materials local to the pottery. Ledmore Quartz and Stoer Beach Sand produce exciting qualities from the high firing temperature and results will vary each time. The Cappuccino cup and Saucer Set is finished with a black glaze inside, giving it such a striking appearance.
We have a wide selection of Highland Stoneware available online, you can browse the range here. But we do also recommend dropping by the shop if you're local enough to see the pieces in person, plus there's usually a few special examples that we don't have online to tempt you with too! Happy browsing, and as always, we're here to help, please contact us if you think we can.