FOOD has always played an important part in Isla Cruikshank’s life.

Raised by a family of cooks, on a farm in the north east of Scotland, she has worked in kitchens and at catering events all over Scotland.

But it is not so much the food, as the ‘beautiful waste’ left behind that has provided the inspiration for her brand new jewellery collection.

Handcrafted with inlays made of eggshell, they are unusual, beautiful pieces which challenge the whole idea of a throw-away culture.

“I was really looking forward to my degree show in the summer, and of course, it was cancelled after the coronavirus pandemic put us all in lockdown,” explains Isla, a First Class honours graduate in silversmithing from Glasgow School of Art.

“It was a big disappointment, after working for four years towards it.

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“But during lockdown, I started to think about how I might build a business and turned my final year project into a springboard for creating &ILC jewellery…”

That project involved creating inlays for jewellery made from eggshells. It began with spoons, in fact, encased in quail, duck and Araucana hen eggshells in assorted colours.

“We always associate eggshells with delicate imagery but actually, they are a lot more durable than you might think,” she explains.

“I love the shape and texture, and the different colours.

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“Sustainability is very important to me and the idea that I could create something from what was essentially discarded food leftovers, really appealed.

“Eco conscious design is the ethos of what I’m doing, an awareness of the responsibility in making and its effects on the planet.”

She adds: “So I created a home workshop, developed a product range and brand and launched a debut collection…”

Growing up around food and home cooking, inspired Isla to work in the industry.

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“I’ve been very lucky to work in some fantastic places, with the most amazing Scottish produce, all over the country,” she says.

“It gave me a real appreciation of the industry, but also opened my eyes to the amount of stuff we throw away

The name &ILC is a combination of Isla’s initials and a version of ‘and that ilk’, the old Scottish traditional saying meaning ‘of the same place or name’.

“I thought it was unusual and quirky and just seemed to fit,” she smiles.

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“I have started with brooches and pins, and the response has been fantastic. I’m hoping to develop the range of products now, to include homewares – fruit bowls, doorknobs and so on, for example.”

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Isla pauses. “It’s bittersweet really, because of course I would have loved to have finished my studies,” she adds. “But I’m really excited about the business.”

Isla is taking part in Art on the Exchange, an outdoor festive market on Royal Exchange Square outside Glasgow’s Gallery of Modern Art, today until 6pm.