The Scapa Flow Landscape Partnership Scheme

Crafts and skills

Orkney has a long tradition of producing brilliant and skilled craft workers. In the past Orcadians had to be practical and made good use of all manner of raw materials. Some of the older skills such as linen-making and straw crafts enabled people to have money in their pockets for the first time.

New crafts such as felt-making, jewellery-making and tapestry weaving have also made their mark alongside some of the older crafts which continue to be in demand with visitors to the islands.

The straw-backed chair is very popular and there are at least four successful traditional chair-makers on the mainland today. Knitted garments with traditional patterns are much sought after and both the Highland Park and Scapa distilleries keep the whisky drinkers happy. The Orkney Brewery and the Swannay Brewery create their own award-winning brews.

Ortak, Sheila Fleet and individual jewellery-makers create some wonderful pieces based on Orkney themes. Ian Richardson owns the last boat-building premises in Orkney making boats using traditional skills. He runs a thriving business in Stromness.