Sheila Fleet's workshop and showroom in Tankerness, Orkney, is the hub of Sheila Fleet Jewellery.
Sheila's original workshop was a converted shed in her garden but the business quickly outgrew these premises, and in 1995 work began on what would become her current workshop, showroom and office space.
All Sheila's jewellery is hand-made, finished and packaged at the workshop.
Colour is a very important aspect of Sheila Fleet's designs and helps to make the pieces so distinctive
Sheila works closely with Peter, her master pattern maker, in the workshop, to turn her ideas and sketches into three-dimensional form. For each piece, a master pattern is delicately cut out in silver by hand. The master pattern is soldered together by hand, and as soldered joins cannot be enamelled, a cast version of the design is created using the 'lost wax' process. This enables Sheila to produce replicas of the master, with which she can experiment using different colours and textures, before settling on the final design.
Colour is a very important aspect of Sheila Fleet's designs and helps to make the pieces so distinctive. The ancient Egyptians, Romans and Celts all heated ground glass to colour metal, creating a 'vitreous enamel'. Less than half a mile from Sheila's workshop, artefacts with red and white enamels dating from the Iron Age were found at Minehowe. Today Sheila Fleet's workshop continues this tradition, using a vast palate of enamel colours made from finely ground granules of glass. The granules are meticulously applied by hand to the metal with a quill.
Each piece of jewellery is then fired individually in a kiln at around 800 degrees centigrade for up to 5 or 6 minutes depending on the size of the piece and how much enamel is used.
Careful polishing and finishing is crucial to the final look of the piece of jewellery. It takes great skill to achieve the right lustre, without removing the subtle shapes and markings within a design.
Visitors to the workshop are most welcome, and tours can be arranged by contacting: +44 (0)1856 861 203. The workshop also has a beautiful showroom displaying all Sheila's collections and a range of gifts, textiles and clothing by other artists from across Scotland.
Visitors to the workshop are most welcome, and workshop tours can be arranged by contacting +44 (0)1856 861 203