Don Sheil - Australia
Don Sheil, was a silversmith with a vision. For years he had played around with metals. They held a fascination for him. It was nothing unusual for him to spend 12 hours a day, 7 days a week experimenting with them – never satisfied, always wanting to exploit the full potential of the alloy with which he was working. It was a tedious and time consuming passion and Don was a tough taskmaster on himself and those around him.
But, he was also a true artist and his talent, patience and design skills combined to lead him in the direction of creating a unique collection of handmade tableware. After exhaustive testing, he found that high purity aluminium, although a very sensitive metal with which to work, had the properties he needed to implement his ideas. Processes were initiated so that the alloy could be etched, spun, beaten, polished and anodised to achieve a quality finish that would not tarnish or impart a metallic taste.
The company has developed along with limited lines – a fact appreciated by collectors of the Don Sheil range. From its beginnings in a workshop on the Mornington Peninsula in 1971, it has never lost sight of that original vision of making handmade pieces of unique, functional tableware.
“Mass production will never be an option. Each piece will continue to be handmade and engraved with the Don Sheil trademark signature for authenticity. No two items will ever be exactly the same. We must be one of the only companies in the tableware industry that will make ‘one’ of something. We have actually made pieces from faxed rough hand drawings – we have that type of flexibility. We can make one-off commission items as well. Over the years we have responded to some very unusual requests and made everything from a walking stick through to a large jug featuring a family’s crest”.
Don Sheil products would have to be one of the few collectibles that can actually be used. “We have people tell us that they have been using our pieces for over 30 years and they are still as good as the day they bought them. Of course they have the added advantage of never needing to be polished, so this also adds to their functional appeal.
Alloy Artisans see the future of Don Sheil still aiming for the discerning buyer. “Major expansion in Australia is most unlikely. We have a niche market for which we will continue to cater with several dedicated stores and select retail outlets stocking our products.
Don Sheil Australia continues to be a small business which incorporates fine craftsmanship along with the goal of maintaining a tradition of excellence rarely seen in today’s marketplace.