Wow! Life is definitely pretty strange, you just never know where things will lead… this time last year I didn’t have an inkling that I’d be teaching jewellery making masterclasses at the British Library in London as part of their iconic Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms exhibition.
“I still can’t believe it, its like something that happens in dreams, not in real life!”
Here is my story of how it began
Back in 2010, I had no idea where it would lead me when out of the blue I was contacted and asked if I was interested in teaching some jewellery making workshops as part of the Forest of Bowland AONB Landscapes Project. The brief I was given was to link the workshops to the local landscape and its history.
I think it had been expected that I’d probably choose the Romans, as we’ve got a lot of Roman history in Lancashire, including a Roman museum on the site of the Roman fort of Bremetenacum Veteranorum in Ribchester in the Ribble Valley. But whilst doing some research on the Forest of Bowland’s history, I came across the Anglo-Saxons. To be honest, I didn’t really know much about them and delving further, they really intrigued me. Anyway, something seemed to be pushing me to choose them instead of the Romans?!
What a great opportunity for me to learn about the Anglo-Saxons. Although they are part of our history, I wasn’t taught anything about them at school and since then, I hadn’t heard a lot about them.
This kindled the fire of my knowledge and creativity!
Once I began, I really enjoyed discovering the Anglo-Saxons and spent hours online researching and reading about them; where they came from, why they came, how they lived and most importantly for me was seeing examples of their artwork.
Alongside coming across their wonderfully strange interlaced designs with animals and birds (zoomorphic design), I noticed that they also used lots of spirals in their decoration of manuscripts, stonework, weaponry and especially in their early jewellery design. At the time, the most exciting of all was the stone crosses I found at a churchyard in the Forest of Bowland and no less they were decorated with spirals. This was great, it was the direct link I needed for the spiral jewellery designs I would teach in the workshop.
“I have been fascinated by spirals for many years, especially how they have found their way into the artwork of many ancient civilizations across the world.”
In my own jewellery making, I love working with wire, especially copper wire with all its magical healing properties and by 2010 I was already teaching a range of different wirework skills including spirals on some of my further wire skills jewellery making classes in adult education at Lancashire College and on my own bebeady classes that I ran at Cedar Farm and other venues across Lancashire.
I adapted my spiral designs for these Anglo-Saxon jewellery making workshops so that they would be suitable for both beginners and for families, adults and children. All of this took up quite a lot of time and if you were looking at it from a purely business point of view it wasn’t something worth doing, but it became more about my own development and doing something I really enjoyed.
After teaching these jewellery making workshops for the Forest of Bowland AONB Landscapes Project, I was busy and didn’t think any more about them, I had no idea where it would take me in the future… to be continued in my next blog posts, come with me on my creative journey and read my story about teaching Anglo-Saxon jewellery making workshops…
Wishing you sparkles of light!
Thanks for joining me on my creative journey,
Sam Rowena, jewellery artist x