Past has bright fu­ture for her­itage at Dunol­lie

The Oban Times - - News - LOUISE GLEN lglen@oban­

DUNOL­LIE has al­ways aimed to cre­ate some­thing unique for vis­i­tors hop­ing they will go away hav­ing been touched by ev­ery el­e­ment of their ex­pe­ri­ence, whether it be tours, ex­hi­bi­tions, learn­ing, vol­un­teer­ing, eat­ing or even shop­ping.

The gift shop at Dunol­lie has come a long way from its small be­gin­nings as a sin­gle dis­play cabi­net in the old kitchen of the 1745 house.

In 2014, with fund­ing from High­lands and Is­lands En­ter­prise, the team at Dunol­lie re­stored what was once the old dairy to cre­ate The Old Drap­ers’ Gift Shop.

The de­sign was in­spired by the bling of Vic­to­rian depart­ment stores with chan­de­liers, mir­rors and old sewing ma­chines dressed around an early 20th- cen­tury counter col­lected by Hope MacDougall from a lo­cal mechant.

The fo­cus of the gift shop was to cre­ate beau­ti­ful gifts in­spired by Dunol­lie’s ob­ject col­lec­tions, her­itage land­scape and sur­round­ing en­vi­ron­ment.

This be­gan with a tar­tan range made from Dunol­lie’s Her­itage MacDougall and Dal­ri­ada tar­tans, both of which were found hang­ing as cur­tains in Dunol­lie House in 2010. While the Her­itage pat­tern is ideal for the MacDougall clan, the Dal­ri­ada tar­tan pre- dates clan tar­tans and is per­fect as a lo­cal but non- clan tar­tan.

Light and heavy weights of both tar­tans were ex­clu­sively wo­ven for Dunol­lie by Lochcar­ron Weavers in the Bor­ders, pro­vid­ing the Draper’s shop with cloth for kilts and a range of scarves, shawls and ties. Two col­lec­tions of jew­ellery were also de­signed and made by lo­cal artists to match the tar­tans. The Hope MacDougall ‘Mir­ror of His­tory’ ex­hi­bi­tion in 2015 pro­vided a great op­por­tu­nity for a new prod­uct range.

Rolls of fab­u­lous cot­ton cal­ico fea­tur­ing ob­jects in the dis­plays, such as bake­lite tele­phones, spur­tles and medicine bot­tles, were printed by Glas­gow School of Art. The fab­rics were then passed to Threads & Yarns – Dunol­lie’s weekly vol­un­teer sewing team – who cre­ated a beau­ti­ful range of hand­made gifts in­clud­ing cush­ion cov­ers, aprons, make-up bags and pen­cil cases.

Threads & Yarns has made a huge con­tri­bu­tion to the suc­cess and growth of the Old Drap­ers’ shop, bring­ing cre­ative flare to this spe­cial line of stock.

The team, led by milliner Jayne Mulqueen, who was once a vol­un­teer mem­ber, said: ‘We want to fo­cus on mak­ing me­men­toes vis­i­tors to Dunol­lie can en­joy while on site or take home for friends and fam­ily.’

Threads & Yarns started with just Jayne and Iso­bel Smith but has grown to eight keen sew­ers meet­ing each week. Each par­tic­i­pant brings new ideas and skills that con­trib­ute to the Threads & Yarns’s range, which is as di­verse as kitchen maid rag dolls, hang­ing blue­bell dec­o­ra­tions, the pop­u­lar Dunol­lie hare and wooden spoons with Dunol­lie en­grav­ings. Iso­bel’s ‘Mairi MacMouse’ is now a best-seller and a favourite among vis­i­tors to Dunol­lie.

Dunol­lie’s weav­ing team is also busy in the weav­ing shed, cre­at­ing beau­ti­ful cloth on the old loom. The vol­un­teer weavers, who meet most Mon­day af­ter­noons and speak to vis­i­tors while they are work­ing, are de­vel­op­ing dif­fer­ent pat­terns and experimenting with a range of colours for a selec­tion of purses to be made by Threads & Yarns.

Dorie Wilkie, lead stitcher of The Great Ta­pes­try of Scot­land, has cre­ated em­broi­dery kits from the fab­u­lous Ja­cobean pat­terns on the an­cient cas­tle bed-hang­ings un­earthed in 2012.

The kits are made up by Threads & Yarns and can be pur­chased in the Old Drap­ers’ shop for keen stitch­ers to en­joy in the com­fort of their own homes.

The Old Drap­ers’ shop also stocks a range of lo­cally made gifts and pro­duce. The shop is open daily from April to Oc­to­ber at Dunol­lie Mu­seum, Cas­tle and Grounds and oc­ca­sion­ally dur­ing the win­ter.

Main pho­to­graph: Kevin McG­lynn.

Dunol­lie Cas­tle was lit up as part of last year’s Oban Win­ter Fes­ti­val and, in­set, the Dal­ri­ada tar­tan.

Iso­bel Smith’s ‘Mairi MacMouse’ is a best-seller.

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