A Toast! To our Irish makers for St Patrick's Day

This Saturday, 17th March, is St Patrick's Day, and he, of course, is the patron saint of Ireland. As this is the moment (according to my google research) to 'celebrate the heritage and culture of the Irish in general' what better time could there possibly be to raise a toast to our IRISH makers.

The history of craft in Ireland is a long one, often bound to the land and enforced by geography, generations of wood turners, weavers, potters and lacemakers picked up their skills from their parents and grandparents. There is a great pride in these cultural-ancestral skills which coupled with the western global desire to make work by hand has seen a wonderfully design-aware resurgence in Irish craft and design.

It was essential to me to have Irish makers in the Simple Shape stable.

Woody the Superfolk dog (and quite possibly the boss?!)

Woody the Superfolk dog (and quite possibly the boss?!)


Dog Days: 'Simple and beautiful homewares for lovers of the wild outdoors' - that's what this husband and wife team make. And they do so, brilliantly.

They live on the West Coast of Ireland in the midst of a dramatic land and seascape (check out their Stories for staggering images from their doorstep) and this is fully embraced in their work. 

We asked them 10 questions, which you can read here, we held an exhibition last September with them (there's more on that here) and you can view the Superfolk things we stock here

They're busy as bumblebees!

Actually spinning the plates; Tony Farrell's lathe in action.

Actually spinning the plates; Tony Farrell's lathe in action.


Seasoned Maker: I haven't done very many workshop visits (I really must do something about this!) but I did manage to visit Tony Farrell on a fleeting but jam-packed visit to Ireland. Tony was so generous with his time and gave me a full tour of his workshop, talking me through the stages from seasoning the wood through to a demonstration of one of our oak plates being turned. I loved the visit. To read it, click here.  

This visit was certainly one of my highlights since starting Simple Shape highlights.

Take a look at our Tony Farrell wooden plates and boards.

Fox & Rabbit  are part of the Saturday Workshop menagerie.

Fox & Rabbit are part of the Saturday Workshop menagerie.


Family Values: Quite possibly one of the very nicest partnerships in business. Edward and his daughter Iseult started their business Saturday Workshop together, mainly because Edward was thinking of retiring and Iseult had other ideas for her Dad!

The O'clery's have complimentary skills, Iseult is an architect and she brings her design skill to her fathers engineering background and together they make a joyful collection of wooden toys and other small homewares, many of them with a nod to their Irish roots: the Dublin Bay Tug, the Irish River Fish and the Irish Elk.

And all are made from sustainable Irish Beech. 

Getting your hands dirty...trade mark of a maker it seems.

Getting your hands dirty...trade mark of a maker it seems.


Liquid Sand: Well...as he's not actually native Irish born Scott Benefield might be seen as a bit of an imposter but he's made Northern Ireland his home for many years and certainly his furnace, kiln and studio are there, so there's no doubt to me that a celebration of BTU Studio is fair enough on St Patrick's day.

Glass blowing is one of the most difficult crafts to master and Scott described 'trying to persuade this amorphous material to conform to your ideas of proportion and symmetry' as a daily task / struggle! The Maker Interview that we did with Scott is one of my favourites, read it here. Dry humour flows like molten glass. 

Scott there's still time to find the 'white collar' profession...but we'd rather you didn't

We seem to have covered some decent geography with Saturday Workshop based in Dublin, Tony Farrell right down in Cork and Superfolk nestled on the beautiful west coast in County Mayo. And, because St Patrick and his day are appreciated in Northern Ireland too, we also have BTU Studio in Belfast.