Gobbins Crafts joins elite network of artisan workshops

An Islandmagee jewellery studio has become Northern Ireland’s latest addition to an international network of craft workshops.

Friday, 14th May 2021, 4:24 pm

Heather McFadden’s Gobbins Crafts has become the eleventh Économusée enterprise in the province.

After graduating from art college in the 1980s, Heather specialised in goldsmithing to combine her love of sculpture and working with metals. She started out designing and creating commissions, wedding, and engagement rings, crafting beautiful pieces for clients who wanted something unique.

The workshop which offers classes in the art of jewellery-making joins the elite group of food and craft artisans who open their doors to visitors and tourists to share the story of their acquired knowledge, skill and passion.

Heather McFadden of Gobbins Crafts. Photo by Kaja Choma / Excalibur Press.

Heather said: “Whilst the current restrictions prevented me from accommodating you today in person at my workshop, I welcome you virtually. I hope for a brighter future when you can visit my studio to see me at work and hear my story.

“I would like to express my thanks to everyone who has made me feel so welcome into the network and I look forward to growing with you and sharing my skills and knowledge.

“As part of my commitment to the Économusée network I will offer visitors pre-booked jewellery making classes and tours of the workshop where they will see the storyboards which tell the history of the area and my personal journey.” 

Guest speakers at Thursday’s launch included Carl-Éric Guertin, director of the Économusée Network Society in Quebec, Martin Graham, Tourism NI, Ciaran Doherty, Tourism Ireland, the Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Councillor Peter Johnston and Graham Thompson, chief executive of Causeway Coast and Glens Heritage Trust (CCGHT) and lead partner of the Économusée Artisan at Work project in Northern Ireland.

Graham commented: “In a difficult year when many businesses have struggled to survive, it is encouraging to see the network grow and Heather’s workshop brings yet another diverse and unique authenticity to this network of Économusée businesses. We are delighted to welcome Gobbins Crafts to the Économusée network in Northern Ireland.”

Économusée Artisans at Work is a concept that was developed in Québec and involves partners from Canada, Norway, Sweden, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Greenland, Haiti, the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Tiérna Mullan, CCGHT project officer, said “By visiting Économusée workshops, visitors will gain an enhanced experience; learn about the history of the craft and the business; the enthusiasm of the artisan along with the added opportunity of meeting the artisans face to face and discovering the beauty and authenticity of the products made and sold onsite.

“We are thankful to our partners in Mid & East Antrim Borough Council and Tourism NI who have continued to support and enable us to expand the Économusée network in the area”.

The provinces other Économusée workshops are: Broighter Gold Rapeseed Oil in Limavady, Scullion Hurls in Loughgiel, Steenson’s Jewellers in Glenarm, Hillstown Brewery in Ahoghill, Hot Milk Forge in Martinstown and Ursa Minor Bakehouse, Broughgammon Farm, North Coast Smokehouse in Ballycastle, Audrey Kyle Arts in Islandmagee and the Creamery Can in Glarryford. Each is situated on or close by the Causeway Coastal Route making it an ideal craft trail for visitors.

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Click here to read: Islandmagee art studio joins international artisans network

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