Patience and perfection are words synonymous with the Sheil family. Mark’s father, 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.
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 hand made tableware.
Mark was always Don’s right hand man, and his technical appreciation is second to none within the industry. Marks days are spent on the workshop floor, actually making product. In Mark’s words, “Working with this alloy is a constant challenge, but I love it. It’s fantastic stuff to use, and as far as I know, no-one else can do exactly what we do. Its potential still excites me. I find I’ll be working on one project and it gives me an idea for another.”
From its beginnings in a workshop on the Mornington Peninsula in 1971, it has never lost sight of that original vision of making hand made pieces of unique, functional tableware. Mark says, “Mass production will never be an option. Each piece will continue to be hand made and engraved with the Don Sheil trademark signature for authenticity. No two items will ever be exactly the same. 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 40 years and they are still as good as the day they bought them,” says Mark. “Of course they have the added advantage of never needing to be polished, so this also adds to their functional appeal.”
Mark sees the future of Don Sheil still aiming for the discerning buyer. He says, “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.”