The Scotsman Handcrafting Silver Coffee Beans in Blairgowrie
It’s Christmas Time And Scotland’s Magical Winter Solstice Is Alive, Spectacularly, In Blairgowrie.
As we travel together through Scotland’s towns and shires, it is important to us and the locals that we remember to contribute to the well-being and sustainability of the environment that thousands call home and whose livelihoods depend on the vibrance of a local economy.
And so with the expert help and guidance of the locals in Blairgowrie, together we created an experience that we hope will once again allow those good folks to shine their own light and illuminate the magic found in their story as only they can to anyone willing to listen.
Let’s Meet Liam.
He’s cool. He’s handsome. And he happens to be super duper talented.
He is one of a handful of folks in Blairgowrie who are working fully online.
Liam is a silversmith. He is the craftsman behind Handmade By Liam Berge and he spends every waking moment thinking about and handcrafting unique silver coffee beans for Scotland’s die-hard coffee enthusiasts through his project, Coffee Bean Culture.
But there is more, a lot more than meets the eye with this guy. We caught up with Liam recently on a sunny, but chilly December morning to find out more about whether or not there were any humble beginnings in his crafting journey, his thoughts on supporting local people, his favourite places to shop for quirky Christmas gifts, how he feels about working online in this 2020 climate, and much much more.
As Seen In Our Latest Video.
The video starts with exploring Blairgowrie’s Dome Restaurant to discover its humble beginnings back in 1905 while also asking the new owner, Karlie, what she loves about the Christmas and Winter Solstice light display in Blairgowrie. Then, we’ll meet Liam Berge, the town’s online silversmith to discover the story behind his handcrafted silver coffee beans.
Blairgowrie’s Christmas And Winter Solstice Light Display Begins Across The River In Rattray.
This year, the local volunteers behind Blairgowrie And Rattray Christmas Lights have installed a new and rather magical Christmas tree.
Every year, the volunteers brave the quickly changing weather as we move from the depths of Autumn and into the chilly winter to light up Blairgowrie And Rattray.
In our chat with Liam, he tells us that the town’s light display is solely managed by dedicated volunteers who rely on donations each year to make the magic possible.
Would You Say Blairgowrie Is Magical Or Christmassy At This Time Of Year?
Kyle: “Christmassy? Not Magical?”
Liam: “Ok, I’d say it’s a bit of both. I mean, there is hardly anywhere in town that is not lit up. There is decorations everywhere. It’s good.”
So When You’re Shopping At Christmas Time, What Is Some Of Your Favourite Shops To Go Into?
“I’d say it’s hard to choose just because there is alot in Blairgowrie to offer. I think I’d be in trouble if I didn’t say my families shop. Come to Mitchells Newsagents on the high street, there is everything you could need in there. We’ve got Diva on the high street, We’ve got Sarah Cave Silversmith, and we’ve got the Cornerstone Deli which has a lot of things in there too.”
“There is also the Kate Fleming, Cateran Cafe, Blair Coffee House, and The Wee Coffee Shop so grab yourself a wee coffee while you’re out and about Christmas shopping. Down the high street and along by the Welmeadow is a new shop called Adventure Into Books which I think is the best book shop about. There is so much you could get in Blairgowrie.”
Are You A Tea Man Or A Coffee Man? Why?
“Well look, I’ll be honest, I’m not a tea man at all it’s just coffee for myself but my good reason is that I can’t make silver tea jewelry, haha.”
“Growing up, half of my family were Norwegian and so they happen to be the biggest coffee drinkers in the world. So whenever we visit them the coffee pot is always on. The smell of the coffee pot has been ingrained in our family since forever and so that is how I ended up liking it.”
What About Your Backstory? Any Humble Beginnings?
“So I’ve always liked working with my hands, it gives me something to keep me busy. I’d say my first crafting experience was when I did a leather crafting course in Perth. The course teaches you how to craft things with leather such as belts and wallets.”
“After that, I made my own Etsy shop and this is where I started to shift into the Handmade By Liam Berge that we know of today. I started selling my leatherwork here and then I became inspired to try a mixture of different crafts including Blacksmithing.”
“And then my partner and I decided to go vegan which meant the leather working didn’t really work out and began to seem a little contradictory if we kept the leather work going. So I had to find a new craft which took me about a year to find the right craft for me that I enjoyed doing just because there were stipulations I guess which had to fit with my lifestyle and I wanted something that I could do inside since it gets quite cold outside in Scotland.”
“So this is when I came across a Silversmithing course run by Lisa Arnott At SilverHub in Edinburgh. A Year later and I am still on Lisa’s course because it helps me continue to improve my skills and that’s important to me. I now have my own workbench in my partner’s flat which means whenever I am with her I can still continue to keep crafting on. And everything has just grown from there.”
“I’ve been involved with crafts a bit before all of this. There was this outdoor magazine that I liked and it got me making my own arrows and knives with antler and so it’s just kind of growing. I really don’t think I’d ever not want to be crafting.”
Your One Of The Very Few In This Town That Have Their Entire Business Online, Why?“I think because it’s an easy way to start. Maybe one day I’ll get a store but for now it’s perfect.” “I sell on Etsy. So to put something on there to sell it only costs me about 20p per item. So if it sells you make something and if it doesn’t sell, well, for 20p I’d rather take that chance.” “So this was actually a good thing for me at a time when I was just starting online and not sure what I was doing with the store.” “This has turned out great for me and even while I am studying my course work, the sales I make cover the costs of my materials which means I get to learn for free pretty much. I think being online has been the perfect place to let you grow.”
Do You Think You’ll Ever Have Your Own Brick & Mortar Store?
“Fingers crossed that will happen in the future but for now online is perfect for me because it lets me travel and I don’t have a set place that I am tied down to”
“It means I can visit other towns and continue crafting. Even If I go on holiday for a week, I’ll just take the toolbox with me and continue crafting there.”
“I think there are benefits to having a place. Everyone knows where you are and people can come and visit you, but I think right now I am not there yet.”
You Are Handmade By Liam & Coffee Bean Culture, What’s The Difference?
“Handmade By Liam Berge is me and all my work that is uncurated. But I found with my coffee beans that I felt like it should be its own thing.”
“A goal of mine, a future one, would be to sell coffee beans from coffee shops all over Scotland.”
“If you go to a coffee shop in Glasgow or Edinburgh for example and you see those coffee beans under Handmade By Liam I felt people might not have as deep a connection with that as it might under the name Coffee Bean Culture. I wanted people to feel like they were a part of a culture that is beyond and bigger than just me.”
What Would Your Advice Be To Anyone Who Is Thinking About Experimenting With Going Online In 2021?
“I’d say there is no better time to get online. There is no better time to push that.”
“I feel the 2020 virus lockdowns made everyone a lot more creative. Everyone was stuck inside, they maybe learned new crafts and found new hobbies and now is a good time to say, “well I’m going to make a business out of that.”
“I think we all need to be a bit more adaptive to work.”
“For me, this maybe hasn’t given me a full living yet but it really boosts that extra bit and let’s you continue doing what you love.”
Our passion here at kyleslife is to help you to explore and travel locally and sustainably around Scotland’s towns and shires.
We also have a YouTube channel where we share various Scottish travel tips and travel guides from born & bred locals.
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