Summer Resident, Ashley Lovie, tells us about her experience at The Smiddy

Ashley tell us a bit about why you came to The Smiddy…


A: At the start of July, I spent a week’s residency at The Smiddy, teaching some classes in return for using their beautiful workshop.  I grew up 30min along the road from Banff so it was especially nice to be back.


Tell us a wee bit about yourself…

A: I run a jewellery brand called Behind Bracken. Items are handcrafted in recycled or Fairtrade metals using traditional goldsmithing techniques, with an appreciation for minimal design and heirloom jewellery. I graduated from Gray's School of Art in 2009 and now live in Edinburgh, but I’m current Jeweller In Residence at the Vanilla Ink sister site in Glasgow.

Did you do any teaching when you were at The Smiddy?

A: I teach already for the Glasgow Vanilla Ink so was excited to trial our kids classes up in Banff, and they went down a treat. First up was Hammer Club for 8-12 year olds which we actually sold out of so fast we added another date, and then sold out that one too!

We focused on 3 different techniques; hammering, stamping and roll printing. Everyone went away with a treasure bag of samples and a keyring to hang from school bags.


With our Make a Ring class for 13-16 year olds, we had 3 very talented friends book on and each made a beautifully textured ring- and learned all the techniques to make them including texturing, sawing and soldering.


What else did you get up to?

A: I was really excited for a week away from my normal routine to start developing some new work that I’ve had on the cards for a while.


What did you think about Banff as a location for a creative residency?

A: The Smiddy provided the perfect space to work on some new samples and had all the tools I needed to do so. The beach on the doorstep makes lunch breaks a proper treat and of course, I couldn’t leave without making a few trips across the road to the infamous Spotty Bag Shop which stocks anything and everything.

Also worth noting that Banff has a post office which was really handy for me to post a few customer orders from.


Anything else you would like to add?

I wish I’d had longer to spend in Banff but hoping in the future I can return,. I am already eyeing up their Make a Spoon class…so I may be back sooner rather than late.

Thank you for coming up to The Smiddy, Ashley, and spending some creative time in our studio. We can’t wait to have you back and are delighted that you had such a positive experience at The Smiddy.

Creativity and Wellbeing Week, 10-16 June 2019

Here at Vanilla Ink, we strongly believe in the power and positivity of simply making. Creating something that wasn’t there before from basic materials is an empowering process. We developed our pilot Make In Metal Programme with this ethos at the heart of it.

Make In Metal students working at The Smiddy

Make In Metal students working at The Smiddy

So… the end of our Make In Metal Programme, rather neatly coincided with Creativity and Wellbeing Week 2019. This 5-month programme came about after we applied for funding from the Opportunities for Young People Fund… and were accepted! We partnered with Community Learning and Development (CLD) team from Aberdeenshire Council and developed a programme focussing on skills development and resilience building aimed at Young People aged between 16 and 25.

Silver Ring Experimentation…

Silver Ring Experimentation…

The programme consisted of 4 sets of four week blocks, each Tuesday session lasting 3 hours and very soon became our favourite class of the week. Workshops were kept to a maximum of 8 participants, with half of the applicants from our local community, applying on a first come - first serve basis. The other half were chosen from the Banff Academy school network area by the CLD team. We were keen to focus on Young People who perhaps needed to build their resilience so we gave them a wee bit of creative time and space to learn some new skills, make new friends and build self-confidence. Making as a therapeutic experience…

Animal Spoon Makers…

Animal Spoon Makers…

It was important to us that we offered these classes to as many young people as possible and made them free so that there were no financial barriers in the way. The funding allowed us to do this.

I really enjoyed making and designing my own jewellery
— Make In Metal Participant

We started the programme in February 2019, kicking off with Basic Techniques in Silversmithing. Silver spoon making and raising techniques were learned to create some gorgeous work.

Wax Carved and Cast

Wax Carved and Cast

In March, we followed on with Basic Techniques in Jewellery Making and realised that the huge consumption of cake was as large as the enthusiasm generated in our classes! Noisy, hilarious and fun is how our students described their time at the Smiddy. Each session, a CLD worker offered support to our students and staff.

The last two blocks focussed on Wax Carving Techniques and different methods of Silver Casting. It was evident that allowing these rather fabulous Young People the time and space out with their own lives to be creative… to be allowed to play and experiment… to meet and chat with different people… was a hugely positive experience for everyone involved. It not only allowed them to focus on making and developing skills, it made them proud of what they had achieved.


These Young People certainly turned up and made some gorgeous pieces, but more importantly had fun and built their self-confidence. When people ask “wow... I like your ring… where did you get it?” … the best, most empowering response of all is… “Thanks… I made it myself”.

Be Proud Make In Metallers… You certainly should be.


Oh My Goodness…What a whirlwind week we have had!!! It was one week ago that HRH Prince Charles came to visit us at The Smiddy…. Gorgeous Day and AMAZING event…

HRH Prince Charles, escorted by Mrs Clare Russell, visited our workshop where he met Team Smiddy.

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We were honoured to show HRH around our workshop and introduce him to our students, the local makers that we support, our students both from our “Make In Metal” Programme and the “Meet Your Maker” collaboration with Historic Environment Scotland and Craft Scotland.

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Megan assisted him to planish our Communal Silver Bowl which he thoroughly enjoyed. We plan to have the bowl on display in the Smiddy later on in in the year.

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Kate told him about our INKubator Programme, a 9-month tailored programme dedicated to nurturing new talent. Then Scott and Kate presented him with a Smiddy Quaich, a piece that we all had a hand at making.

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Before HRH left, he unveiled a plaque commemorating his visit to The Smiddy.

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Its not everyday that royalty pay you a visit, and we would like to thank all those involved on the day… It was certainly a day to remember… #RoyalVisitBanff #TeamSmiddy

HRH Prince Charles is visiting The Smiddy on 29th April 2019...

The week we announce… A ROYAL VISIT…


We are hugely excited to be announcing this news !!!

His Royal Highness Prince Charles has a desire to see young people engage in learning experiences that promote confidence, personal development and offer training in real life skills.

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Our creative partnership working with @Historic Environment Scotland, Craft Scotland and Banff Academy on “Meet Your Maker” and our further work on our “Make IN Metal” Programme with CLD North Aberdeenshire has led to this visit.

We strongly advocate creativity, learning and the positivity of making.

We hope to discuss our work with Young People with His Royal Highness and introduce him to the Vanilla Ink Family.

To share the excitement and mark this event, we at The Smiddy are offering 15% off ALL our classes until he arrives on Monday….

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The Opening of "Meet Your Maker" Exhibition @ Duff House

On the evening of Thursday 28th March, we attended the opening of the Meet Your Maker Exhibition at Duff House in Banff. This AMAZING project was funded by Historic Environment Scotland and Craft Scotland.

Three Makers were invited to work on the project: David Powell (Willow Sculptor): Naomi McIntosh (Designer and Maker) and our very own Megan Falconer.


We have been working with National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher Art students from Banff Academy since October 2018 to teach them new skills and develop creative work to display at this exhibition. These AMAZING Young People did not disappoint.


The students were lucky enough to experiment in Willow, Paper, Silver and Copper and the work was of such high quality.


If you can… go and see the Exhibition at Duff House. It is open until 5th May 2019.

The month... we finished our second 'Make in Metal' programme

Hello everyone!

Welcome back to The Smiddy blog, we have recently finished up on our second ‘Make in Metal’ programme. The classes are part of a funded project which allows us to offer a number of free 4 week courses for 16-25 year old’s within the Banff area. The blocks we have completed so far have included an introduction to silversmithing, where we saw the students make their own bespoke silver spoon and bowl from scratch. The second block introduced the students to jewellery making, where they learned how to make a silver ring, etch a silver pendant and learned how to set a stone into jewellery.

The experience has been fantastic and it has been a pleasure to see the creativity within these young people, as well as their energy and positive attitude to learning new skills which has been so refreshing. At Vanilla Ink, we strongly believe that making has the power to give individuals a huge sense of achievement and we are so pleased to be able to offer these courses at The Smiddy to students as a place to experiment, explore and express themselves, and of course learn new skills!

Have a look at some of the pieces the students have been working on during their time here...

One of our students cleaning up the solder join of their handcrafted silver spoon.

One of our students cleaning up the solder join of their handcrafted silver spoon.

One silver spoon inspired by the students pet, we love how creative these young people have been during this session.

One silver spoon inspired by the students pet, we love how creative these young people have been during this session.

Three students with their silver spoons, all inspired by different animals - a bear, a cat and a dog.

Three students with their silver spoons, all inspired by different animals - a bear, a cat and a dog.

Soldering on a base to their silver bowl.

Soldering on a base to their silver bowl.

Hand stamped quote around the top of this students raised silver bowl.

Hand stamped quote around the top of this students raised silver bowl.

Silver ring with a cabochon stone set in the centre.

Silver ring with a cabochon stone set in the centre.

Selection of pieces made by one students during their 4 week jewellery making block. Silver ring, etched pendants and a stone set pendant.

Selection of pieces made by one students during their 4 week jewellery making block. Silver ring, etched pendants and a stone set pendant.

Polishing a silver ring

Polishing a silver ring

The month... we started 'Make in Metal'

Hello everyone and welcome back to our blog, where we will be telling you all about what has been going on at the Smiddy in February.

This month has been particularly exciting for our team as we have started our first ever ‘Make in Metal’ programme for young people (aged 16-25). The first class we are running covers an introduction to traditional silversmithing which will see a group of 6 students create a silver spoon and a silver bowl over four sessions. The participants have now completed their first two weeks - creating a silver spoon using sheet and wire components and soldering them together and will spend the next two weeks learning the technique of raising in order to form a small silver vessel.

Look at the brilliant and creative pieces that have already been created…


Last weekend we also hosted our very first ‘Make a Wedding Ring’ workshop at The Smiddy, where we had a lovely couple make each others wedding ring for the big day. One chose a plain traditional style band, while the other chose a contemporary twist style ring. This class is a bespoke workshop which is completely tailored to the couples preferences in regards to design, metal choice, finish etc, which is why we invite couple to have a consultation before the workshop in order to design and plan their ring.

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We are now taking bookings for wedding ring workshops throughout 2019, so make sure to get in touch if you are interested.

In other exciting news, we are so happy to have hosted our very first CARVE workshop at The Smiddy last weekend. Here at The Smiddy in Banff, along with the Glasgow Vanilla Ink site, will be the two new locations to have CARVE workshops, and we have plenty more dates throughout the year so don’t panic if you missed this one! CARVE is a fun, creative and relaxed class where you carve a piece of jewellers wax using a number of tools (files, carving tools, scalpels etc) to remove wax in order to create a design of your choice. Your carved wax is then cast in silver and you get to wear your very own creation whenever you want!


See you next time!

The Smiddy Silversmith

The month... we started back at The Smiddy for 2019

Hello everyone!

We have some good news to share with you in our blog this week, not only are we progressing with our collaboration with Craft Scotland and Historic Environment Scotland with the ‘Meet Your Maker’ program, but have also secured funding to launch 4 x 4 week jewellery/silversmithing courses for 16-25 year old’s in Banff - and for free!

The students taking part in the Meet Your Maker project are coming to the end of their time with silversmith Megan, and will now spend the next two months with Naomi McIntosh and David Powell to learn further creative skills.

We are so impressed by the work that the students have been working on (age range 14-17) at The Smiddy.

Saw piercing sterling silver vessel by Banff Academy student.

Saw piercing sterling silver vessel by Banff Academy student.

Our ‘Make in Metal’ courses for young people in the Banff area will launch next week starting with introduction to silversmithing where the students will learn to create both a silver spoon and a small silver bowl under the instruction of our silver. These courses aim to work with young people who want to gain a new skill and some experience working in a silversmithing workshop in a friendly and welcoming environment.

We still have space in our ‘Wax carving’ and ‘Casting in Metal’ courses which start in April/May, so if you know anyone who this would be suitable for please share…

These courses will involve 4 weeks of coming to The Smiddy for one evening a week and immersing yourself in a creative and fun environment. The courses include:

  • Introduction to Jewellery making

  • Introduction to Silversmithing

  • Wax Carving

  • Casting in Metal

More information on each class can be found online.


We have also introduced a new jewellery taster session for 2019 - make a silver spinner ring. We hosted our first class a couple of weeks ago and it was a fantastic success. Have a look at these beautiful rings that were made at The Smiddy in 4 hours!

Next class is Saturday March 9th!

Next class is Saturday March 9th!

The week... we launched our festive workshops!

Welcome back to Vanilla Ink - The Smiddy’s Sunday blog post.

This week here at Vanilla Ink - The Smiddy, we have launched our festive workshops for the very first time. These will run throughout December and will include all things festive - think fairy lights, mince pies, mulled wine (or hot chocolate for the drivers). Bring along a group of friends or colleagues and learn how to make a pair of copper napkin rings, a silver ring or a set of Christmas tree decorations in one of our fun, festive and creative workshops. There are even more options online at


In other exciting news, we have also opened our calendar for bookings for our special ‘make your own wedding ring’ workshops for 2019, so please get in touch with any queries or book online at


We have launched our gift vouchers online this week, the perfect gift of an experience which can be put towards any class we run at The Smiddy.

Another important note to make before signing off, we will be announcing our 2019 classes in our next newsletter, so be make sure to sign up now to be the first to see and book our workshops for next year.

See you all next week!

The Smiddy Silversmith :)

The week... we started our first 8 week blocks

Welcome back all and I hope you are having a lovely weekend!

Last Sunday we missed our weekly blog due to our silversmith Megan exhibiting at Elements - a festival of jewellery, silver and gold in Edinburgh, but we are back this week to share what we have been up to at The Smiddy.

This week we welcomed our first groups of particiants in our 8 week programmes at The Smiddy, including introduction to silversmithing, introduction to jewellery making and intermediate jewellery making.

In our introduction to silversmithing class, we started off by teaching our students the traditional technique of raising. Starting off with a copper sheet, we spent our first three hour class making great progress on a small copper vessel.


We also started our first intermediate level course to those who have previous experience in jewellery making and we started off by getting use out of our lovely new rolling mill, by learning how to recycle our scrap silver and inlaying other metals into the new silver sheet.


Finally for the week, on Friday evening we taught a lovely group how to make a silver ring and make silver granulation in our first beginner class for the term.

This week we will be introducing some of the Banff Academy art & design pupils to The Smiddy in our first session for the Meet Your Maker programme. We can’t wait to share how it goes in next weeks blog.

See you next week!

The Smiddy Silversmith

The week... we attended the 'Scotland's Early Silver' opening

Welcome back everyone! This week, we spent a little bit of time away from The Smiddy, from attending a meeting discussing our involvement in the Meet Your Maker programme, to visiting a silversmiths workshop in the Borders to gain some valuable insight into a workshop set up.


On Thursday our silversmith Megan met with the Historic Environment Scotland team, who, along with Craft Scotland, selected us for their new project which will see young people from Banff Academy learn new skills. As part of the project, the students will make work inspired by Duff House and the current ‘Scotland’s Early Silver’ exhibition, using The Smiddy as a space to develop and create their designs. This project is a collaboration which will allow Art & Design students to learn a variety of new skills and be imersed in new processes by three professional makers - Megan Falconer, Naomi McIntosh and David Powell. As part of this project, our silversmith Megan has also been commissioned to create her own piece of work inspired by Duff House and the silver exhibition. We can’t wait to welcome the students to The Smiddy and share how they get on learning a range of traditional and contemporary jewellery and silversmtihing skills. Alison and myself also had the opportunity to attend then opening evening of ‘Scotland’s Early Silver’ exhibtion at Duff House which was the final destination for this show, and what a stunning display of silver it was.


On Friday this week, Megan and the Founding Director of Vanilla Ink Studios - Kate Pickering, visited Adrian Hope, a silversmith based in the Scottish Borders. Thanks to Adrian’s knowledge about the industry and profession, he very generously shared with us some great helpful information and tips to set up our workshop, tool making and much more. We spent most of the time in awe of his range of silversmithing tools and talent for making beutiful pieces of silverware.


A quiet week on the classes front, as we prepared our course schedule up until Christmas, which are all now available to book in the classes section of our website. We are also almost fully booked in both of our jewellery 8 week blocks with only one spot left in each, so if you have are interested in learning a range of new skills for a 3 hour session every week for eight weeks then don’t forget to book now to avoid dissapointment.

See you next week!

The Smiddy Silversmith

The week... we made our first Banff spoons

Hello everyone and welcome to The Smiddy’s shiny new blog! We hope to share the happenings in our workshop of the week each Sunday to keep you in the loop and share some behind the scenes from The Smiddy, Banff. So here we go…

What a great second week we have had, from starting off the weeks workshops with casting silver into a pasta to finishing off the week by teaching our first ‘Make a Silver Spoon’ class, which saw the first set of silver spoons made in over 200 years in Banff. I know, you are probably thinking – how on earth do you cast silver with pasta (see image below)

Ready to pour!

Ready to pour!

Our first class for the week, water casting, on Tuesday allowed our students to melt silver in a crucible and simply – pour the molten metal into a bucket of cold water. This technique actually creates the most lovely unexpected creations, which are all completely unique. Once cast, our participants combined pieces they had cast in order to create a pendant, which involved learning some basic soldering techniques to attach pieces together and add a jump ring. This turned into an experiment where we ended up pouring the molten silver into a bundle of dried spaghetti (inside a cup of water).


Next up, on Thursday we hosted our first Scrap – Recycle – Reuse class, which showed students how to bring in their old scrap back to life by creating something beautiful from old offcuts and silver filings. This included learning how to open cast on a charcoal block and creating your own sheet, to using delft clay to make a new creation with their scrap silver, learning wax carving in the process to form a design to be cast. We loved seeing how our students used their new casting skills to come up with a range of samples and finished pieces from unused scrap.

Examples of sand casting, water casting and pasta casting.

Examples of sand casting, water casting and pasta casting.

 Up last for the week, this Saturday, The Smiddy ran its first ‘Make a Silver Spoon’ class where five students learned how to create their own designed silver spoon from scratch starting off with a piece of sheet silver and a square wire. I think it was safe to say everyone had a fantastic day learning some traditional and contemporary spoon making techniques that were used to construct 5 stunning new pieces of Banff silver.

One of our participants said “It does not matter if you are a complete beginner, you will soon get stuck in. I could tell that everyone in my class had a great day out”.

Our first Banff spoons made at The Smiddy

Our first Banff spoons made at The Smiddy

Thank you to everyone who has come along to our workshops so far, showed their support and welcomed us into the community!

See you next week!

The Smiddy Silversmith :)