Tucked away in a quiet corner of Snowdonia is one of the region’s most fascinating businesses – Inigo Jones Slate Works. You probably know it as a popular visitor attraction, thanks to its famous self-guided tours… but did you know you can also do your Christmas shopping there? We sent our blogger to investigate…
I have to say, Inigo Jones Slate Works is full of surprises. Having visited the showroom several times over the years, both on business and as a shopper, I knew before my ‘research visit’ that it sold some pretty interesting items. What I didn’t know, however, was just how fascinating the making of these items is!
On arriving I was shown into a little room to watch a film about the history of slate and of Inigo Jones Slate Works. That was a really fascinating ten minutes, and it’s the starting point for anyone who pays for one of the self-guided tours. Afterwards I was shown around the shop by Sue, who manages it, and learned about the hand-crafted goods, most of them locally-made, that are available to buy there.
I think what took me most by surprise was how many items can be personalised. Sue showed me the special UV printer they use for printing onto slate items like trophies and coasters. It was huge, and it was really interesting to watch it at work.
What really fascinated me was the number of items that can be personalised – and the fact that, if you’re a designer, you can get Inigo Jones to print your designs onto slate products and then sell them on to your own customers. As a craftsperson, the cogs in my mind started to turn when Sue told me this!
As Sue explained, the coasters are very popular as personalised wedding favours. You can provide your own design by email, and one of the team members will print it onto slate for you. The prices were surprisingly low too, considering what you get for your money… an order of 50-100 personalised slate coasters would cost around £2.40 per coaster, including VAT.
Engraved name plates for houses are also very popular. Over a thousand of them are produced on-site each year, and shipped out all over the UK.
Sue gave me a tour of some of the most popular items available to buy at the showroom.
Slate place mats are by far the most popular product sold at Inigo Jones (in fact, my mother bought a set when we took her there for a visit a few years ago, and she tells me that her visitors are always admiring them). The table mats at Inigo Jones are made from beautiful blue-grey Welsh slate, which is cut at the quarry before being finished at the slate works where they’re oiled (for stain resistance) and baized (to protect table tops).
Slate items like the tealight holders, door stops, cake stands and lazy Susans are always popular, Sue said, as well as the slate clocks which can also be personalised. The Gwynant clock in particular has been a bestseller for 40 years, and over a hundred have been sold this year alone.
But it’s not just slate goods that you can buy at Inigo Jones Slate Works. They stock an excellent selection of products by local artists and craftspeople, as well as items from further afield. Welsh-language books are plentiful there (in fact, I bought one for my little grandson during my visit, which he loved) as are more unusual items like greetings cards made from sheep poo!
There’s some really beautiful work by local artists too – and some absolutely stunning slate jewellery which is very popular, Sue said, because each piece is unique.
One of the things that really impressed me about Inigo Jones Slate Works was the huge amount of support they give to local artists and craftspeople by stocking their ‘makes’. It’s so refreshing to visit a shop and know that almost every item you can buy has a local connection of some sort. If you’d like to buy a Christmas present with a difference this year, and support Snowdonian artists while you’re at it, you should definitely add Inigo Jones Slate Works to your Christmas shopping trip itinerary!
All of these items and many more are available to buy at the Inigo Jones showroom at Y Groeslon, which is open from 9am to 5pm every day including weekends. You can also shop at their online store, which is at www.inigojones.co.uk.
You can use your Snowdonia Pass to enjoy 10% discount on purchases over £10 at Inigo Jones Slate Works – please visit their ‘deal details’ page to find out more.