All posts by jewellery artist

Jewellery designer-maker, creating sculptural wire and beaded jewellery / accessories and fused glass designs. Inspired by ancient civilizations, travel and nature.

Anglo-Saxon inspired – my story 3

I really didn’t have an inkling 9 years ago when I chose to learn more about our Anglo-Saxon heritage and teach these Anglo-Saxon theme jewellery making workshops for the Landscapes Project quite where it would lead or the incredible journey I would have…

Is it our destiny that pulls us in these directions, moves us by chance onto these different paths?

Destiny, fate, chance whatever you want to call it, seems to play a major part in my life, as so much of what I do seems to happen by accident. When I retrained as a teacher 16 years ago, I thought I would just teach basic design and photo-editing. I had no idea that two years later I would begin to specialise in teaching jewellery making and teach it at a number of colleges, groups, galleries and organise/run my own classes for over 10 years.

Learning about the Anglo-Saxons and teaching my jewellery making workshops for the Landscapes Project for the Forest of Bowland AONB really helped enrich my knowledge and broaden my horizons. It was the start of something amazing that linked my teaching with my design skills, jewellery making and my interest in our ancient ancestors.

My Anglo-Saxon adventure continues – 3
So after teaching the workshops at the Lindisfarne Gospels exhibition in Durham, it was followed in 2016 by being asked to teach some workshops as part of the Warrior Treasures, Saxon Gold / Staffordshire Hoard exhibition at the Leeds Royal Armouries museum. They’d also discovered me online via the Landscapes Project (sadly its not online anymore).

These workshops were longer, for a day instead of 2 hours and   inspired by some of the Anglo-Saxon designs in the exhibition – that were decorated with double spirals – I  developed some further wirework jewellery designs.

anglo-saxon jewellery making pieces created by students
double spiral design inspired by pieces in the Staffordshire Hoard created at the workshop

I’ve already written a few blog posts about this particular journey, my teaching and Staffordshire Hoard exhibition visits:

What happened next was very wow! I couldn’t believe it when last Summer I was contacted by the British Library, which resulted in me travelling down to London in October 2018 and January 2019 and teaching my Anglo-Saxon jewellery making 1-day masterclasses as part of their iconic Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms exhibition.

“If there is ever a good example of the benefits of writing a blog, I think this is it… as I asked how they found me and it was from doing a google search and my blog posts and websites were there!”

It was super exciting, but I also put in a fair bit of time in preparing myself for it; learning more about the Anglo-Saxons, developing further designs for the masterclasses and ordering/organising materials etc. It was also way outside of my comfort zone… once I’m actually teaching I’m ok, as I feel happy when I’m demonstrating or helping students, but talking / presenting I find much more difficult and my brain often turns to jelly with my words coming out jumbled up or not at all.  Thankfully both masterclasses went really well and I was very proud of myself for facing my fears.

What a wonderful opportunity it was and so totally unexpected. Plus I got to visit the fascinating exhibition for a quick look before I went around with the workshop participants pointing out pieces of particular interest and inspiration for the masterclass workshop designs.

Well, there is a little bit more to my Anglo-Saxon journey, that involves my own jewellery designs and my new business name, which I will share in my next blog post, come with me on my adventures…

Read my other blog posts:

Wishing you sparkles and hugs, Sam Rowena x

Anglo-Saxon inspired – my story 2

It was a great experience teaching the Anglo-Saxon jewellery making workshops for the AONB Forest of Bowland Landscapes Project – and although I didn’t know it yet – the wheels had now been set in motion!

At these workshops, the project co-ordinator was there, alongside a photographer Gaye Woolard taking photographs of me teaching, the students making and our finished jewellery makes. Some of these photos, together with student feedback and info on the workshops were then featured on the Landscapes Project website. This really was pivotal and helped open the door for the amazing things to come…

anglo-saxon jewellery making workshop at the Landscapes Project Forest of Bowland AONB
teaching my first Anglo-Saxon jewellery making workshop at the Landscapes Project in 2010

My Anglo-Saxon adventure continues
2 years later and again totally unexpected, the workshop organiser for the Lindisfarne Gospels exhibition at Durham Cathedral contacted me and asked if I was interested teaching some workshops they were running alongside the exhibition. As you can imagine, I was both surprised and ‘over the moon’ about it, and asked them how they found me?

“A google internet search of ‘Anglo-Saxon’ workshops had led them to the Landscapes Project and me!”

It was really exciting and a great opportunity for me to develop my knowledge of the Anglo-Saxons further, I even discovered I had a British Library book about St Cuthbert and the Lindisfarne Gospels amongst my small collection of books, which felt just like ‘kismet’.  It was great that the world of the Lindisfarne Gospels would be brought to life, as I was able to combine my teaching with a visit to see the beautiful Durham Cathedral and the Lindisfarne Gospels exhibition in person.

Lindisfarne Gospels book by the British Library
learning about the Lindisfarne Gospels prior to my Anglo-Saxon jewellery making workshops

Similar to the Landscapes Project workshops it was open to everyone. On my jewellery making courses, I’ve mainly taught women – from teens to adults – and it was really rewarding to have these opportunities to teach mixed groups; women, men and children. I was delighted that the children managed much better than I expected and were often able to pick up the skills quicker than adults. Perhaps because children are learning new things all the time and will just give it a go without worrying about it, whereas some adults have a fear that they aren’t creative or won’t be able to do it.

Afterwards, on my journey back to Lancashire, I spent a few days visiting other Anglo-Saxon churches near Newcastle, Hexham Abbey, the Long Meg stone circle and Mayburgh Henge near Penrith. Its a beautiful area with so much of sacred and ancient historical interest, one day I hope to return and spend more time exploring this fascinating area.

I’m still amazed when I look back on this journey, it continues in my next blog post, come with me on my adventures and read my story about teaching Anglo-Saxon jewellery making workshops.

Read my other blog posts about this journey:

Wishing you sparkles and hugs, Sam Rowena x

Anglo-Saxon inspired – my story 1

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!”

Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms exhibition at the British Library
Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms exhibition

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 an great opportunity for me 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, stone work, weaponry and especially in their early jewellery design. At the time, the most exciting of all were 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 on the workshop.

Anglo-Saxon stone cross in the Forest of Bowland AONB
Anglo-Saxon stone cross in the Ribble Valley

“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, Sam Rowena x

Teaching 2018

I didn’t expected to be teaching much this year, I really thought that might be it, when I stopped organising and teaching my bebeady jewellery making classes last Spring.

So I’m pretty amazed by it all!

Firstly I was quite surprised to be teaching quite a few bespoke 1-1 and small group workshops at my studio this Spring / Autumn.

bespoke workshop
a personalised day workshop for a mother and daughter

Secondly and the icing on the cake, was being contacted early this Summer and asked to teach a jewellery making masterclass for the British Library in London, linked to their Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms exhibition.  What an honour, although I did feel quite daunted by it, having mainly taught smaller groups the past few years, plus all the extra organisation involved with it. Will share some more about it in my next blog post….  

“I have really enjoyed my teaching this year, I love to share my creativity with others and help nurture their jewellery making.”

It has meant though, that I’ve not been able to devote quite as much time to developing my ‘ash fused glass’ and other new glass and wirework designs as I’d have liked. I’ve just had to be satisfied with making slower progress. More news about them coming up in some of my next blog posts…. 

Bespoke jewellery making 1-1 and small group workshops
There’s more info about them on my bebeady website. I teach them from mid-February to mid-April and mid-September to mid-November at my rural studio-workshop in Lancashire. You can see some photos of what was made in my 2018 workshops on my Jewellery artist Instagram.

Come with me on my creative journey…
wishing you sparkles of light, Sam Rowena x

new designs 2018

Its trial and error when you are creating something new, as your work doesn’t progress in a straight line, it seems more like watching a ‘ping-pong ball in action’…

Over the past year, I’ve been doing lots of experimenting and exploring many new ideas. It all takes time and it’s often hard to give it all the development time it needs.

Now I feel my patience is slowly being rewarded, as my new glass and wire designs are beginning to come together.

Am really grateful, especially after my recent ups and downs, which I’ve written about in some of my blog posts, if you’ve read my last blog – a downside of working with glass – you’ll understand why I’m appreciating it all the more.

When you have ideas and designs in your head, then sketch them and explore how to create them, it becomes like a journey you travel along before you’re able to make the finished design. Its frustrating at times, but also really satisfying.

It’s like watching a flower grow and blossom!

A year ago, I created my first pieces of ‘ash fused glass’ to help me with my grieving. This year I’ve worked further on it, my Ash Fused Glass, in the hope of being able to help others keep a little bit of their loved ones with them too.  For more info visit my new website – www.ashfusedglass.co.uk

ash fused glass pendant
midnight blue sparkly ash fused glass with a heart

I’m also well underway with creating my new range of ultra sparkly glass pendants, see an example in the main header photo and more photos of these jewel-like beauties on Instagram – www.instagram.com/jewelleryartist

Some of my designs evolve further over time, as I adapt and change them with fresh ideas or create them in different colourways, with different beads or other variations. I’ve been doing this with many of my glass and wirework designs over the past year and will be posting about these ‘new’ updated designs and more about my Ash Fused Glass in my coming posts. Come with me on my creative journey…

For the moment I’m just feeling happy with all the progress over the past year!

Wishing you sparkles of light, Sam Rowena x

a downside of working with glass

Relieved that August is behind me… so many things breaking down, more accidents than usual, followed by getting an infected finger. Argh!

I don’t even know how I did it?

4 weeks ago I’d got a cut on my index finger, so the following day I was using my middle finger instead when doing some glass work at my studio. It’s not as hardy (as used to working) and I think I must have got a tiny glass splinter inside my fingernail.

Who would have thought that something like that would cause me all this trouble!

Not good. It’s hard to keep positive when you are feeling ill, as it seemed to aggravate all my weak spots, so it wasn’t just a sore fingertip that was stopping me sleeping. I had a bad back, aching arthritis, a cold and toothache as well.

At first, I tried applying an antiseptic cream, then some essential oils (lavender, tea tree and vitamin E) and bathing my hand in warm water with Himalayan salt as recommended after googling it. But after a few days – my symptoms were getting worse and my fingernail started turning black – I decided I needed to go to A and E to get it checked out by a doctor. Thankfully after a week on penicillin, I and my fingertip slowly began to recover…

As a designer-maker my hands are so precious – they’re my main tools – and working for the first 2 weeks was out I could hardly bend my finger it was so swollen. I’m so happy that this past 2 weeks my finger has gradually been getting better and I’ve been able to use it again to do short bursts of wirework, glueing and other work, although it looks like its going to take a bit longer before its fully back to normal.

I’m also glad to be back to ‘me’ and my upbeat self again!

Perhaps this and my ongoing eye problem are helping me take stock of all the positives; the progress I’m making with my new designs this year and all that I’ve learnt along my creative and spiritual journey. It’s helping me enjoy the ‘now’, be grateful and kind to myself, rather than beat myself up for not managing to do all that’s on my long to-do list. Instead, I will give myself the time it needs to get it done…

Wishing you sparkles of light along your journey too,
Sam Rowena x

eyesight is precious

Its been nearly 3 months since the floaters and flashes in my right eye began and thankfully my brain is getting used to them and most of the time isn’t taking as much notice of them!

But at the beginning of May when they started I was quite worried, especially after looking up more info about them online and finding that they might be symptoms of a detached or torn retina – I’d also managed to hit myself in the eye the previous week – and I should go to A&E to get them checked out. Argh, not my favourite place, but after a few hours wait, I got an emergency appointment to see an eye specialist the following day. I had some further eye tests at my opticians and felt reassured that it looks like they are caused by something less serious (the gel around the eye) I was able to head off on holiday and continue with my life… although I still have to keep ‘an eye’ on it, should it change.

The ‘tadpole’ and black dots that are swimming around my vision and the flashes of light were initially hard to ignore and caused headaches, so I’ve needed to regularly rest my eyes and am doing mini-meditations/eye exercises too.

The other problem is that I’ve had to limit my screen time. Computer work and watching the tv puts too much strain on my eyes and gives me headaches. Luckily though with working for myself, I’ve been able to spend more time on other tasks that I can do.

Am really glad that I hadn’t booked many events over the Summer so that I’ve been able to take life at a slower pace.

It’s given me a deeper appreciation of my eyesight and there have been other benefits too from all the meditating…

Sam Rowena

jewelart pop-up events

Do you ever feel that barriers are put in your way to help you change what you are doing?

Whether it’s our guides or destiny, saying “no you have to stop going down the path you’re on, as its now time for a different path and a change of direction.”

I definitely am feeling this… it hardly ever snows in Lancashire, but during both my recent jewelart pop-up shops at the Platform Gallery we’ve had both snow and ice.  Ok, I did have a premonition that it might snow when I booked it early last year for a week in December, but then for it to snow again during my recent March event, that was just so ‘Deja-Vue’?!

Lancashire snowscene
March snow-scene the week before my pop-up

All the work that goes into organising and doing these pop-up events, laid to waste by the weather…

Just to give you an idea of some of the work involved:

  • Created leaflets and posters and took them to the gallery before Christmas (so that they could display them and help advertise my pop-up event), filled in the booking forms and paid the gallery hire fee
  • Added the event to my website events list
  • Displayed and gave out my pop-up shop leaflets at other events
  • Promoted it in my newsletter
  • Sent photos/info to the Gallery for them to help publicise the pop-up on their website, newsletter and social media
  • Another journey to Clitheroe the week before the event to put up posters in a few places around Clitheroe and check out the exact gallery space set-up
  • Promoted the event on my social media
  • Brought with me my display board for outside the gallery
  • The gallery hire didn’t include extra time to set-up and take down, after setting up the pop-up display, I was open to the public from midday on Friday and all day Saturday. I’d hired Monday morning to take it down, so this involved 3 journeys to Clitheroe and paying for parking each day

I know that March isn’t the best time of year to organise a pop-up shop and I wouldn’t normally have done it then, except that during my December pop-up shop I discovered that from April the Mix Gallery hire fee was doubling (tripling on Saturdays). This meant that it really wouldn’t be viable for future pop-up events there and I wanted to do it for one last time!

jewelart vintage crystal decorations
vintage chandelier crystal light-catcher decorations at my December jewelart pop-up shop

Alongside my jewelart pop-up shop display, there’s enough room for an extra table so that I can sit making and visitors can watch me creating abstract wire work and chat with me about my designs.

“It’s a shame, as it’s a lovely small gallery space for pop-up events, especially as there are now so few alternative places to do them in Lancashire.”

Clitheroe is such a great place to visit for a day out, as well as the Platform gallery, there are its castle ruins and museum, quirky shops, cafes and galleries, and its beautiful countryside setting.

How it began:
After taking part in some of the Platform Gallery’s pop-up Christmas meet the maker events, I hired the gallery space for a group event with my neighbouring studios, but it didn’t work as there wasn’t enough space for 5 lots of displays and for all of us to be sat with our work.

For the past few years, I’ve usually hired the gallery space twice a year. Its still been hit and miss… sometimes there were only a few people venturing inside for tourist info and they haven’t ventured further down into the gallery, or the weather was too nice for people to want to spend their time indoors and then other times, such as my recent pop-ups the bad weather put people off venturing out to Clitheroe.

my first solo jewelart pop-up shop in 2015
jewelart pop-up shop leaflets 2015

 

“When things just aren’t working anymore, it makes you reflect on why not.”

I feel happy that I’ve had these experiences and pop-ups at the gallery and for the most part, I’ve enjoyed doing them and meeting/chatting with visitors over the years, but taking into account all the work involved with organising them, I do agree that I’m ready for a new path…

hugs and sparkles
Sam Rowena x

alternatives

Instead of doing what I would normally do, for the past year, I’ve been trying out ‘alternatives’ from alternative therapies and healing to finding different solutions for what I do in my work and experimenting with alternative design ideas. I’m trying to approach everything with an open mind and to just see what happens…

Teaching
At the end of 2016, I decided I wasn’t enjoying the work involved with organising my classes and after 13 years of teaching jewellery making classes, I thought these Spring 2017 classes would be my last ones. But, I’m still teaching, slightly differently now though, as I’ve begun teaching bespoke 1-1 and small group taster workshops.

Other Work
Last Summer whilst at an artisan market, I had an interesting conversation about work with my neighbouring stallholder, she and another of the artists I knew were both working part-time as assistants/helpers for older clients through an agency. I needed some extra regular income and thought this could be a potential alternative part-time job. Since then I’ve been working a few hours to one day per week as a personal assistant.

Events
To make it easier for my bad back and problems carrying things with my left hand, I’ve altered my display to make it easier to set up and carry using a trolley. I’m trying to limit my driving by doing events within a 45-minute drive time. Also instead of doing as many events in 2018, as an alternative, I’m devoting more time to my online sales and working on my webshop and other alternatives.

Ash Fused Glass
Out of the ashes of sadness, a new direction is born – an alternative – I’m sure my dad would be proud to be part of it too. My hope is to be able to help others that want to have a beautiful keepsake or piece of jewellery made with some of their loved ones or pets ashes.

Alternative therapies and healing
During 2017 I began going to a range of different sound healing meditations and workshops, these are amazing, but I found that I need to give myself a day or two afterwards to just chill out and relax. Sometimes I’ve felt like I’m in an altered state, my head is buzzing and I see more rainbow sparkles than usual.
I’ve also been going to Eden Energy workshops and other classes to try and help heal myself using an alternative way.

Interesting conversations
Are you also looking for alternatives to the normal path? I’ve been amazed this past year, how many others I’ve met that are also interested in similar things and alternative ways.

Going Forward
If it’s not working and the path seems blocked by many obstacles, my route is to find a creative way around it, an alternative path… I do believe in silver linings!

Let there be sparkles of light along your journey xx 
Sam Rowena

adversity 2017

Sometimes our path seems to be strewn with all sorts of problems to overcome, 2017 was especially tough going with many things to overcome…

The passing of a loved one and illness, although difficult has helped me put everything else in perspective and made me realise that it will pass and with time I’ll get through it and better times will return.

Grief, when you lose someone close, is something you have to go through, it takes time to heal and you have to keep reminding yourself that they wouldn’t want you to be sad. It’s important to know that they remain with you in your memories and their spirit helps watch over you.

2017 also brought with it health problems. I’ve had back problems on and off for many years, but in January it ‘went’… I couldn’t even walk with the pain and it worsened in February. It gradually improved with careful treatment; regular stretches alongside visits to the osteopath, but remained ‘fragile’ most of the year and had an impact on my work.

Sitting or standing for long stretches of time made my back worse, which is hard not to do, I either sit or stand when making, at my stall, on the computer and driving. I found driving especially bad and it influenced the events I could travel to. I became more careful when carrying anything heavy and rearranged my stall display to make it easier so that I wasn’t leaning over as much. Even teaching, I’d normally lean over to help students and there’s not usually space for a chair to sit down instead.

It wasn’t only back problems plaguing me, after carrying anything with my left hand my knuckles would swell up and become painful. Then towards the end of the year, I came down with the worst cold I’ve experienced (bad enough to visit a dr to check it out) and even now months later my cough keeps on resurfacing… argh!

So glad its now 2018 and the light of Spring brings renewed hope for better times ahead. Hugs Sam Rowena x