WATCH: Cork ceramic crafter Siobhain Steele is keeping her craft alive

Ms Steele had a passion for art when she was a teenager, but she never got the opportunity to pursue it. She finally graduated from Crawford College of Art and Design in 2013. 
WATCH: Cork ceramic crafter Siobhain Steele is keeping her craft alive

Siobhain Steele sculpts a ceramic statue in her workshop in Cork. Mostafa Darwish.

“THE important thing is that you’re keeping a craft alive. And you’re keeping a business alive. So in that sense, everybody wins.”

Siobhain Steele is a ceramic crafter with a nursing background from Kildinan, who started her career eight years ago.

Ms Steele had a passion for art when she was a teenager, but she never got the opportunity to pursue it. Finally, she got the chance to study again, and she graduated from Crawford College of Art and Design in 2013.

“When I graduated, we were in the middle of a recession. And people would say, not a great time to start a business. But, I have two young boys, and we needed to go to college. So I was driven to make my business a success.”

There’s no doubt about how difficult it was initially, but Ms Steele says that there was a lot of help available from the local enterprise office.

“I tapped into all their services. And I took as much help as I could that was available to me. And it was challenging, in the beginning, to get my name out there, but eight years on, I’m very proud of what we’ve been able to achieve.”

Siobhain Steele pauses for a portrait at her workshop. Mostafa Darwish.
Siobhain Steele pauses for a portrait at her workshop. Mostafa Darwish.

Unlike all other producers who faced marketing and production issues during the pandemic, Ms Steele was able to continue producing from her workshop at her home garden and her products were shipped across Ireland and the world.

“It was a very interesting year, and I had to diversify and change what I was doing. I was previously doing classes. I stopped all of that and focused on online sales, and it worked well.”

Ms Steele relies on companies in Cork to get her material, especially after Brexit.

“I sourced my materials locally in Cork, but I think Brexit just made me very aware of where I get my materials from, and I just really had to make sure that I was sourcing them from companies that would be there long term.”

There were difficulties in the first three years while she was starting, especially there was a lack of support by the government compared to now.

“I think there’s much greater support now. There’s much more emphasis at the moment, but I think it has to go on all year round, all the time.

“There was a fantastic drive for (Made Local) by the enterprise offered by the design and Craft Council of Ireland. It highlighted for people the importance of buying Irish. And I think there is a much better appreciation of handmade.”

More in this section

Sponsored Content

Add Echolive.ie to your home screen - easy access to Cork news, views, sport and more