Islay Spalding is a jewellery designer/maker who specialises in bespoke commissions for Kilt Pins, and contemporary jewellery, including wedding and engagement rings. She believes in quality craftsmanship and meaningful design, aiming to combine organic complexity with modern simplicity, creating unique pieces that are unusual and distinctive yet practical and pleasing to wear.
After graduating from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design in 2005, Islay set up her workshop in her parent’s garage before moving to a shared workshop in Dundee a couple of years later. Here she had many happy years working on her own jewellery collections for sale in galleries, doing craft and trade shows, establishing the bespoke Kilt Pin part of her business and creating the Man Pin brand with fellow workshop buddy and woodworker, Louise Forbes.
Islay is a proud advocate for the city and is actively involved in making it a more creative and vibrant place. After dreaming of owning her own workshop filled with jewellers and makers Islay finally bit the bullet in 2020 and opened Double Door Studios in Dundee city centre, now her jewellery home. Three other jewellers share the jewellery workshops and two other makers run their craft businesses from the adjoining studios, all sharing the ‘exhibition room’ where customer meetings, product launches and exhibitions take place.
Islay has the unusual credentials of being a qualified British Army Drum Major (Army School of Bagpipe Music and Highland Drumming, 2010) and is snare drummer who competes with the MacKenzie Caledonian Pipe Band and tutors drummers at Dundee City Pipe Band and Kilgraston School. She therefore knows how to wear a kilt, and how to tell others to! A big part of Islay's ethos when designing Kilt Pins is to marry up this 'tradition' with contemporary design and create something that has the symbolism and timeless appeal of traditional Scottish Highlandwear but with a fresh, modern approach. Elements such as grooves and notches to signify dates, geographical features, pieces of music or re-workings of clan crests are some of the ways Islay brings that personal meaning to the design, making it completely unique to the wearer.
When not making jewellery or playing in pipe bands, Islay loves the feeling of being immersed in the Scottish landscape, achieved by 'research trips' hillwalking, camping, swimming and skiing. Exploring harmony between natural and man-made structures and finding geometry and patterns in nature. Landscapes are such an inspiration for her work that she describes the feeling as “being surrounded by Kilt Pins!”.
As well as her commissioned work, Islay makes evolving collections of jewellery which she sells online and through local galleries. Inspiration varies and intertwines between surrealist art, geology, landscapes and environments, architecture, a sense of place and the beauty of the between. These range from colourful and chunky Biomorphs and Biocubes in resin and silver, to angular and geometric Oddgons and Dundee Deltas.
Islay is currently working on a set of silver and gold brooches and Kilt Pins, incorporating pieces of agate from a local quarry, to be part of a burgeoning collection of geology inspired work.
WEBSITE - www.islayspalding.co.uk
BLOG - www.islayspalding.blogspot.com
JEWELLERY FACEBOOK - /islayspalding.jewellery
KILT PINS FACEBOOK - /kiltpins
INSTAGRAM - @islayspalding
KILT PINS INSTAGRAM - @kiltpins
MAN PINS - www.manpins.com
DOUBLE DOOR STUDIOS - www.doubledoorstudios.co.uk