What is it about Snowdonia that inspires such beautiful arts and crafts? Dramatic landscape, equally dramatic history, abundant natural resources and talented makers all have their part to play.
There’s something about Snowdonia that inspires artists and craftspeople.
Perhaps it’s the landscape: looming, heather-clad mountains easing down into gentle grassy slopes, before tiptoeing down into the sea.
Or perhaps it’s the history, often turbulent but leaving behind heroes, villains and monuments to times gone past.
It might even be the wealth of natural resources that are abundant in Snowdonia, many of which are perfect materials for arts and crafts: slate, granite, wool, wood, shells, and even Welsh gold.
It’s a winning combination of inspiration, materials and raw talent that makes Snowdonia such a wonderful place to shop for arts and crafts. It would be fair to say that every town in Snowdonia has at least one shop selling the wares of local artists and craftspeople, but it would be impossible to list them all – so here are ten of our favourites.
1. Alison Bradley Gallery
In the heart of Betws y Coed, the Gateway to Snowdonia, you’ll find Alison Bradley Gallery. Worked in oil paint and charcoal, Alison’s pieces are inspired by rural life and the landscape and coastline of Snowdonia and North Wales. Alison also sells prints of her works, and provides an on-site framing service so her pieces are ready to hang when you get them home.
2. Piggery Pottery
At Cwm y Glo, just outside Llanberis, is Piggery Pottery, who specialise in children’s pottery including night lights and money boxes. You can buy the finished pottery items from the Piggery Pottery online shop as well as in person, but you can also give your children a real treat by taking them into the barn to paint their own designs on piggy banks, pebbles and even jewellery.
3. Corris Craft Centre
At Corris Craft Centre there are nine craft workshops, making and selling a fantastic variety of goods, including jewellery, candles and traditional wooden toys. You’ll be able to watch the craftspeople at work, before shopping until dropping!
4. Inigo Jones Slate Works
You’ll find Inigo Jones Slate Works at Y Groeslon, just outside Caernarfon. Inigo Jones have been making things from slate for 150 years, and over the years the business has expanded from making writing slates for schools to making all sorts of slate gifts and things for the home. As well as visiting the shop, you can take a self-guided tour of the workshops, try your hand at calligraphy and engrave a piece of slate to take home with you.
5. Glynllifon Workshops
Glynllifon’s workshops and shops are packed with beautiful locally-made arts and crafts including jewellery, ceramics, glassware, wood, photography and slate gifts. You’ll be able to meet many of the makers whose goods are sold at Glynllifon, and as an added bonus there are beautiful gardens and woodlands to explore once you’ve finished shopping.
6. The Glassblobbery
At The Glassblobbery, which is about 7 miles from Bala heading towards Corwen, David and Wendy Pryce-Jones make and sell exquisite gifts from glass, which they create freehand using the lamp work or bench glass blowing technique. They make everything from cats and dragons to birds and flowers, in coloured and clear glass.
7. Trefriw Woollen Mills
At Trefriw Woollen Mills in the Conwy Valley, you’ll have the opportunity to see the machines used for weaving the traditional Welsh bedspreads, blankets, tweeds and dozens of other woollen items that are sold in the on-site shop. So as well as having a great day’s shopping, you’ll learn something too!
8. Harbour Crafts, Barmouth
You’ll find all sorts on sale at Harbour Crafts in Barmouth. From popular gift ranges like Lilliput Lane and Beatrix Potter to St Just jewellery and Portmeirion Pottery, there’s something for everyone in this little Aladdin’s den! The shop is in the old town, near the harbour, so once you’ve finished shopping why not explore the town and make a day of it?
9. Rob Piercy Gallery
In 2002 Rob Piercy became Welsh Artist of the Year, and is recognised as one of the UK’s premier painters of mountains. Pop into the Rob Piercy Gallery in Porthmadog to treat yourself to one of his wonderful watercolours of Snowdonia; his paintings of Portmeirion are especially delightful and really capture the beauty of the famous Italianate village.
10. Tonnau Gallery
‘Tonnau’ means ‘waves’, so it won’t come as much of a surprise that the Tonnau Gallery in Pwllheli describes itself as a ‘sea gallery’! The gallery sells art and crafts on a good mixture of themes, though – it’s not all nautical. When you visit Tonnau Gallery you’ll see works by many of Wales’ most promising artists and craftspeople, so if you’re looking for a future heirloom and have a good eye, it’s really worth a visit!