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Upon leaving school in the late 1970s, Wilma began her apprenticeship at Edinburgh Crystal. The artistry involved in this kind of work is so specific that I asked Wilma what appealed to her about the process of glass engraving. “It is a two-dimensional form of art and very challenging, which is why I really like it.” Interestingly, Wilma also does illustrations, paintings, and carves etchings for shepherds’ crooks and walking sticks. Given the propensity of sheep and hill walkers in Scotland, I can see why this additional skill might prove useful!
“They initially wanted 24 glasses in a week’s time!,” Wilma says. “After I explained to them this wasn’t possible, I engraved four glasses to start with and then completed the rest in short order. After the glasses, I went on to engrave a decanter and a portrait glass.”
So, what are Jacobite Glasses, you ask? According to the Corning Museum of Glass, Jacobite Glasses were 18th century drinking vessels most often used for toasting Prince Charles Edward Stuart a.k.a. Bonnie Prince Charlie, a.k.a. the “Young Pretender.” As Claire Randall correctly pointed out in Outlander Season 1, the term “Jacobite” is derived from the Latin for “James” referring to James Edward Stuart—King James VIII—the Bonnie Prince’s exiled father. Supporters of the King were referred to as “Jacobites.” Before the defeat of the Bonnie Prince and his armies in 1746, Jacobite glasses were usually engraved with the English rose, representing the Crown, and an optimistic motto such as “Redeat” (Latin for “May he return.”) After 1746 some of the glasses contained cryptic symbols and messages. More from Wilma on that later!
It was just over two years ago when Wilma got a call from one of the props managers from the Outlander production team asking if she could engrave Jacobite glass. Wilma’s friends, Mike and Sue Hunter at Twist Glass Studio in Selkirk made the glasses and then passed Wilma’s name along to Outlander as someone who could do the engravings.