• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

Made in Scotland ... from genius

When design curators Panel were challenged to devise a way of celebrating Scotland's creative and manufacturing traditions within the Commonwealth Games, they set out to commission six unique souvenirs.

Beca Lipscombe, Marianne Anderson, Neil McGuire and Claire Duffy have all applied their imagination to the creation of 2014 Games souvenirs that celebrate Scottish design and manufacturing. Photographs: Jamie Simpson; Robert Perry
Beca Lipscombe, Marianne Anderson, Neil McGuire and Claire Duffy have all applied their imagination to the creation of 2014 Games souvenirs that celebrate Scottish design and manufacturing. Photographs: Jamie Simpson; Robert Perry

One week before the results go on sale at a pop-up shop in Glasgow, we meet the teams behind three of those objects.

The Golden Tenement

By Neil McGuire and Marianne Anderson with Carlton Die Castings

Loading article content

Souvenirs are all about stories. The stories of where they were bought, or who gave them to you and why. Stories about forgotten trips and holiday romances, about friends and travelling and fun. Fridge magnets, badges, banners and keyrings - they're little things but they say a lot.

Some souvenirs are defined by the stories that made them. Neil McGuire and Marianne Anderson's golden tenement, which they created for the Scotland Can Make It! project, was inspired by a Commonwealth Games story - but not necessarily the kind you might expect. It involved Margaret Jaconelli, who campaigned unsuccessfully to keep her Ardenlea Street flat in Dalmarnock, which was later demolished to make way for the Athletes' Village.

"There are lots of stories connected to the Games and there's an emphasis on the good stories, but there are also these other stories going on," explains McGuire, who had the idea of the golden tenement. "I was helping a community group and they were making a newspaper about regeneration, so I was aware of the story of Margaret Jaconelli and the battles she was going through."

McGuire, with the help of jewellery designer Anderson, has created two gold-plated versions of the tenement building Jaconelli's flat was in. The first, a limited-edition model (only 20 are being made and they will retail for £225 each), is being cast in bronze and created by jewellers at Glasgow School of Art. The second is a flattened keyring version of the tenement made by Carlton Die Castings, which will sell for £12.50. "They're both gold-plated," explains Anderson. "The larger ones are cast in bronze and then gold-plated and the keyrings are zinc and then gold-plated."

One of the biggest challenges the duo faced was getting the keyring manufactured in Scotland - an important part of the Scotland Can Make It! brief. Anderson, who works part time as a jeweller at Glasgow School of Art, was tasked with finding a company that could produce die-cast (the process of pouring molten metal into a metal mould) models of the design.

Fortunately, Paisley-based Carlton Die Castings, the last remaining die-casting company in Scotland, took on the job. "It was good fun," says owner Gil Wilson. "To do something of this detail, so small, was a bit of a learning curve for us - the tenement weighs 49g and normally the smallest thing we make is 200g and we go up to 15kg. The tenement itself is so detailed that when I looked at the drawing I had to ask if the draughtsman had made a little slip of the pen, or was this mark intentional, as some of the details were minute."

Indeed the designs for the golden tenement are so detailed they even include the satellite dish that used to be attached to the building. "By the time we did this the actual tenement had been knocked down," says McGuire, who explains that the design was based on old photographs of the building taken by one of his friends.

And how does Jaconelli feel about her old tenement building being turned into a souvenir that people can buy during the Commonwealth Games - the very event that caused her home to be demolished? "Margaret has been very supportive of the project," says McGuire. "She'll be getting a golden tenement."

Picnic blankets

By Atelier EB with Alex Begg & Co

The Begg & Co factory, please." "Do you know what street it's on?" replies the taxi driver. He obviously doesn't. He's never heard of the place apparently.

Designer Beca Lipscombe and I get there in the end, though, and when we do it's immediately obvious why our driver, despite picking us up only a few miles down the road, didn't have a clue how to get here.

The Begg factory's modern, grey-coloured exterior offers no hint at the textile treasures contained inside. It's easy to see why someone - even a resident of Ayr, where the factory is located - might miss it.

Inside, though, the place is alive with noise, colour, people and machinery. Clattering weaving machines, the hum of the washing room and the trundling of trolleys laden with vibrant woollens being pulled across the factory floor. But upstairs in the modern offices, where Lipscombe and I are meeting the design team, it's quieter. We're discussing Lipscombe's creation for the Scotland Can Make It! project: a black and white picnic blanket inspired by the packaging of her mother's favourite perfume, Cabochard.

"When this project came up we thought the best souvenir for an event like this would be a blanket," says the Edinburgh-based designer. "Because you could take a blanket to the event, you could wrap your kid in it after the event, you could have a picnic on it. So as well as being a souvenir, that blanket has provenance, it continues, it has a life beyond a cheap souvenir."

Lipscombe's lambswool and cashmere picnic blanket is one of three being sold in the Scotland Can Make It! project. Designed by Atelier EB (the art and design collaboration of Lipscombe, a Central St Martin's trained textile designer, and fine artist Lucy McKenzie) along with invited artist Marc Camille Chaimowicz, each blanket has been woven by Begg & Co and will be sold with a leather holder made by McRostie of Glasgow. Sixty blankets and accompanying holders will be made in total and will sell for £550 each.

"What's good about working with Beca is that she listens to what we're saying," says Moira Leishman, the head designer at Begg. The company frequently works with designers such as Vivienne Westwood and Ralph Lauren and collaborated with artist Ian Hamilton Finlay. Lipscombe is keen to sing the Begg team's praises as well: "It's the Atelier name on the blanket, but we couldn't do it without Begg."

To create the three bespoke blankets, Lipscombe and her fellow artists worked with Lindsay Wallace from Begg's design team, a process that involved learning about the intricacies of weaving manufacture. "Lindsay has been my shorthand to understanding the process, so they've made us look really good," explains Lipscombe. Certainly, these blankets are as beautiful as they are practical. Along with Lipscombe's design there's also McKenzie's cat on a rug composition and Chaimowicz's colourful ice-cream cones and grapes blanket.

The decision to work with Begg & Co on the Scotland Can Make It! project was, says Lipscombe, an obvious one. Atelier, which produced a small clothing collection a few years ago under the title The Inventors Of Tradition, had worked successfully with Begg in the past and was keen to utilise its talents on the souvenir concept. There are also plans to continue the relationship, including a range of cashmere scarves designed by Atelier and produced by Begg.

Lipscombe is in no doubt why the relationship works - it's all about manufacturing quality, apparently, something the designer is particularly passionate about. "We like to show off what we can make in Scotland," she says.

Gold, silver and bronze teacake medals

By Claire Duffy with Tunnock's

You can't blame her. Most of us would have done the same. Faced with the temptation - lots of chocolatey temptation - we'd all probably have scoffed some too. At least, I would have. "I've eaten quite a lot of Tunnock's teacakes for research purposes," admits Claire Duffy of the famous chocolate-covered mallow biscuits which form the centrepiece of her Scotland Can Make It! souvenirs. Like I say, who can blame her?

Duffy, a Glasgow School of Art-trained product designer who lives in Musselburgh, came up with the idea of transforming one of Scotland's most famous confectionery products into Commonwealth Games-inspired souvenir medals. As well as a certain amount of chocolate deliciousness, her gold, silver and bronze foil-wrapped teacakes, which will be given away as free promotional items, come complete with pop-out cardboard medals and a presentation-style box.

"I was interested in the idea of souvenirs that don't necessarily clutter up your life," explains Duffy. "I've got children and I have a lot of clutter in the house, so I liked the idea of keeping it minimal but I also like the idea of participation and creating memories and using those as your souvenirs."

Confectionery seemed like an obvious medium. "I liked that ephemeral quality because it's something you can enjoy and get a lot of pleasure from - there's a lot of pleasure in confectionery," says Duffy. "One of my original ideas was the medals and the two came together and I thought: chocolate medals."

The Tunnock's teacakes weren't part of Duffy's original idea, though. Instead the designer had thought about trying to make a disc-shaped caramel wafer and using that as the base for her medals. However, manufacturing constraints meant the teacakes became the obvious choice for the final product.

It was a compromise Duffy was happy to make. "That's part of what makes it fun - if you could just do it all yourself then it wouldn't be the same. You have an idea but at the same time because you know you're going to be working with a partner, there's always going to be give and take. You can't say, 'This is exactly what I want'. That's what was really interesting." Interesting and, it seems, a learning curve for Duffy, who says her time working with Tunnock's has been fascinating. She adds: "I was really keen to go into factories and get some experience."

Tunnock's, which will be manufacturing 1000 boxes of Duffy's medal teacakes, are equally impressed with the finished design. "The final product is excellent," explains Douglas Haggarty, purchasing manager at Tunnock's. "I especially like Claire's concept of three pop-out medals that are hidden under each of the teacakes. Again, this was a feature of the design that we thought: 'Yes; it adds value as well as a fun element.'"

The teacakes are being officially launched at the new Baltic Street Adventure Playground in Dalmarnock, which has been built by the children who will use it. "The children are going to do their own award ceremony and award their own teacakes," adds Duffy. "It might not be for the 100m sprint, but for something else like best builder, most improved attitude, most mucky."

Chocolate, children and muck - it might not be the Commonwealth Games but it sure sounds like fun.

The Scotland Can Make It! shop will be open from July 19 until August 3 at South Block, Merchant City, Glasgow. Visit scotlandcanmakeit.com.

Additional Images: 
Contextual targeting label: 
Arts and Entertainment

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

246731