Nearing the end of my Christmas holidays in Orkney I decided to take up the courage and organise a visit Sheila Fleet’s workplace. It turned out the whole visit was AMAZING. They were all so down to earth, honest, helpful and lovely! Unfortunately Sheila Fleet, herself, was away South doing some work-related things. However, her son, Martin, was kind enough to show me the ropes of the workshop as he works there himself.
The workshop was a nice traditional bungalow building out in the middle of nowhere. Inside it was so modern! You would step into the shop first of all, where all the jewellery were all nicely displayed in glass cabinets, then walk through into the office. It was a really friendly atmosphere, like Martin said “we are all family”, and I could see that. Martin brought me through into the workshop where maker’s huddled at their benches happily making. First off, I was shown how pieces were made from start to finish with the help of pictures and pre-made jewellery and moulds. Then I got passed onto a highly organised ‘Dave’, the guy in charge of the lost-wax casting process.
After this I stood by one of the makers, Bryce, and asked him endless questions about jewellery, techniques, my work, etc, as he sat there polishing almighty gold and silver on giant machines. This was utmost helpful to me.
I then watched the 2 young enameling girls scooping tiny grains of glass onto silver. I learned so much from these girls as I have never tried enameling before.
Finally, after hours of learning and watching, a woman who works on the displaying of the jewellery, Christine, was helpful enough to show me, in detail, how she goes about displaying the work to its best potential.
This experience was a huge learning curve for me and taught me tricks of the trade. I recommend all designers to go out and meet other makers as it can open your eyes to so many things.