West Kilbride: A Crafty Town
West Kilbride is Scotland’s first accredited Craft Town. They won a Creative Place Award in 2012, the first year they were handed out. The awards celebrate local communities that come together to promote their town through the arts and culture. West Kilbride certainly does that and it’s one of the reasons we’re so glad to have our home here.
So, what is there to see? The central hub is in The Barony Centre, which is a pretty impressive building in itself. It’s a converted church that has won some architectural awards in its time. It houses a series of different craft exhibitions during the year including some that have toured nationally and internationally. The current exhibition is called Naked Craft – we haven’t been to see it but we’re definitely curious! The staff at the centre are working on hosting workshops, talks and other events that reflect the exhibitions.
There’s also a lovely gift shop that sells both new and antique crafts including baskets, pottery, glassware, jewellery, silverware, fabrics and wooden items. You could pick up something special for yourself or even start your Christmas shopping if you’re feeling organised. The centre is open between 10am and 5pm Monday to Saturday and on Sundays between 12 noon and 5pm.
Best of all, there’s an excellent café offering simple, tasty food using local produce. You could start your day out with a cup of coffee and one of their delicious cakes or pop in for lunch. We hear that their soup is really good too.
If you’ve started your craft adventure at the Barony Centre there are eight more studios that you can go and explore. The aim of the craft town is to support local people in creating and selling their crafts. This includes offering them affordable accommodation to do their work. The people working in the studios range from talented amateurs just starting out to highly skilled practitioners. It means that there’s a real range of products for you to explore.
The studios are open on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays between 11am and 3pm. However, you should remember that these are working studios. Some of the equipment used is better kept behind closed doors for safety reasons so you might not be able to get in straight away. If there’s a studio that you particularly want to visit it’s best to call in advance.
Once you’re in, there are some beautiful things to see. The eight studios have hand painted yarn, silverware, stained and hand painted glass, handmade teddy bears, cards, embroidery and handwoven scarves and home accessories.
Even if you’re not that excited about shopping, it’s a great way to see some talented craftsmen and women at work. Best of all, it’s only a short hop from Crosbie Towers so if the weather gets a bit too cold you can be back at your caravan before you know it.