Sheila Fleet Blog

The Orkney Yole and Scapa Distillery

We’re introducing Sheila’s new Orkney Yole design, inspired by Scapa Distillery.


What does one of Orkney’s traditional boats have to do with whisky you may ask…

The story began when Scapa Distillery invited Sheila to the launch of their new whisky, Skiren. Skiren is a smooth single malt and its bottle features the elegant, reliable Orkney Yole. Captivated by the design’s pure lines (and Skiren’s delicious taste!) Sheila set to work to create a new collection celebrating Scapa and its new malt.

Making the Orkney Yole

Back in the Workshop, master pattern maker, Pete, cuts the Orkney Yole out of plate silver and engraves the surface of the wave by hand. This takes skill and patience! It’s worth it though, textured silver shows up the enamel colours really well. Next the smooth silver areas are polished using the appropriate “mop” as the rotating wheel head is known.  Carefully does it… we want a matt finish on the sails.

Cutting out the Orkney Yole Polishing the Orkney Yole

Enamelling the Orkney Yole

With the silverwork complete, it’s now over to the enamellers.  The name Skiren means glittering bright skies in Old Norse. Sheila’s enamel colours reflect the bright blues and greens of the sea and sky around Scapa Distillery and they do almost glitter…

Enamelling the Orkney Yole

Heating crystals of molten glass creates enamel. A thin film of distilled water in each dish keeps the crystals clean. The enamellers use large quills from a goose or turkey, to pick up the crystals then they carefully place them onto the jewellery. Creating the blended colourway you see in the enamel is another job requiring skill and patience. Once the glass crystals are on the jewellery, the enamellers place the piece into a small kiln at over 800 degrees.  As the glass crystals heat and melt their colours change…

Orkney Yole in the kiln Orkney Yole cooling

The Orkney Yole going into the kiln then cooling on its gauze tray above.  As it cools the enamel colour will change from greens back to a flow of blues.  On gold the same enamel colour looks quite different. Sheila inspects a finished Orkney Yole pendant in 18ct yellow gold.  We can’t enamel 9ct gold and in 18ct gold the colours look best on yellow gold rather than white or rose gold.

Orkney Yole in 18ct Yellow Gold and Shallows

Sumptuous in 18ct yellow gold and Tempest enamel, this pendant has earrings to match.

We hope you enjoy the beauty and serenity of our Orkney Yole and do visit Scapa Distillery to try a wee dram of Skiren whisky, refreshing, shimmering sweetness…

Skiren Whisky

Want to visit?

Scapa Distillery is an artisan distillery founded in 1885 and situated on the shores of Scapa Flow. The distillery welcomes visitors, for opening hours and tour times see

Sheila’s Workshop in Tankerness is open all year round. Contact us Monday-Friday 9am-4pm if you’d like to see the jewellery being made. The Orkney Yole collection is online – cufflinks and a tie tack will be coming soon and are available now at Scapa Distillery and in the Kirkwall Gallery.


Sheila’s son Martin grew up in and around the Orkney Workshop while cousin Kathleen remembers Sheila visiting her mother, Sheila’s older sister, with exciting new designs from a very early age. Between them Martin and Kathleen will keep you up-to-date with Sheila Fleet Jewellery news!

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