A woman from Lordship has decided to leave the busy office environment after 25 years and has unleashed her creativity by creating pieces of craft made from reclaimed materials from local natural resources.
Michelle Donnelly, who moved from Dublin to Dundalk several years ago, established “Shells Driftwood” and makes handmade crafts using material from the Cooley shores and Dundalk Bay.
“Having spent childhood summers in Wexford I have always loved the sea,” Michelle told The Democrat, “ After moving from Dublin to Lordship, I appreciated what was on my doorstep along the Cooley shores.
Last Christmas, Michelle decided to make a driftwood tree for her hallway and decorated it with Oyster shells sourced from Greenore.
“The tree was left up all year and it reminded me of what was available on my doorstep,” said Michelle.
In April, Michelle decided to leave the office and use her creativity that had been shelved for many years.
“The busy office and buzzing phones are now replaced with peaceful mornings spent trawling my local beaches for materials and then back to my garden workshop to create individual pieces.
“The driftwood is sourced along the Cooley shores from Rockmarshall to Carlingford, and the beautiful coloured seaglass is found on Carlingford Lough while the Oyster shells are found in Greenore.
“Each piece is individual due to the nature of the Driftwood and I get very excited when I find an unusual weathered piece as these pieces of wood make very unique sailboats. I use mostly reclaimed material for the sails from denim sourced from our local charity shops to cotton stiffened to make colourful sails.”
Each of Michelle’s crafts can be made personalised with names or quotes engraved.
Michelle also makes plaques and lead holders for dogs and cats, all made from locally sourced material.
Her creations have become a hit with local shoppers.
“I have catered for a recent wedding with a nautical theme where sailboats were used as centre pieces on each table. As the hotel was on the seafront this was the ideal location for the sailboats,” said Michelle.
It has been a busy few months for Michelle, who has been all around the country at different craft fairs.
“During the summer months I have been all around the area doing Craft fairs from Carlingford Food & Craft fair on the first Sunday of each month in St Michaels Hall to every Friday at Dundalk square market.
“I am enjoying been out in the fresh air and meeting amazing and intersting people on a daily basis and I am delighted with the interest I am getting from people when they hear that all the materials are sourced from our beautiful shores and all handmade and individual.
“The fact that each piece can be personalised makes the gift more special whether if for their wife, husband or even the dog.
“I can personalise the pieces on the spot or I can take orders and have them ready for collection from my workshop in Lordship of they can be collected for my stall at Dundalk square. I will be at the Taste of Louth in the Marshes shopping centre in November.
Michelle is already making Christmas decorations and will be at the Taste of Louth fair in the Marshes next month.
“This is my life now and I have never been so happy and excited about something. I have had great support from my family and friends.
“This is were I am after six months and thanks to The Louth Enterprise board who have also helped me along the way I hope I can continue to create unique pieces from our wonderful shores.”
You can check out Michelle’s website on www.shellsdriftwood.com