The Glastonbury Experience 2017 – St Michael pilgrimage path

Come with me on my journey of discovery on the St Michael pilgrimage path to the sacred Glastonbury Tor and Burrowbridge Mump. These are sacred and magical places with their earth energies, spirits and mysteries. I had read about the orbs of light and strange happenings at Glastonbury Tor but never expected to see them for myself, another enchanting experience and I will share it with you in this blog post.

I guess I’m a modern-day pilgrim traveller and feel blessed that Glastonbury Tor and its springs call me to return. Being there, meditating gives me such a sense of peace and wonder, its powerful life force recharges my batteries and my immersion in its waters helps heal me.

Glastonbury Tor 2017
Glastonbury Tor

This Summer as part of my annual pilgrimage, I spent a few days discovering some of the other ancient and sacred places near to Glastonbury – you can read more about my Glastonbury Experience in my other blog posts: Angels and Dragons and Ancient Trees – and my guidebook ‘The Traveller’s Guide to Sacred England’ by John Mitchell, inspired me to go and visit the magical ‘Mump’ or King Alfred’s Fort at Burrowbridge.

It was a glorious July summer morning and after a short drive, I parked at the free National Trust car park and walked up the ‘Mump’ (just 79ft high) to the ruined St Michael’s church. Whilst I looked around the ruin and sat in its shade having a picnic and reading my guidebook, a few visitors came and went, I even had the Mump to myself for a while. I watched the Swift fly in the breeze around the hill before returning to perching on their ledge, high up in the Tower. There was a glorious view of the surrounding Somerset countryside and in the distance, I could make out a hazy Glastonbury Tor rising up from the Somerset Levels. In ancient times, this whole area was sea and marshland and the Burrow Mump would have been an island.

Burrowbridge Mump

Burrowbridge Mump with its ruined church dedicated to St. Michael is also significant for being on the St Michael ley line.

A ley-line is an energy / psychic power line, often lying on ancient trackways and spiritual sites of pagan ceremony.

Paul Devereux, editor of the ‘Ley Hunter’ and many books on earth energies identifies these ‘spirit paths’ as stretches of ancient trackway. An excerpt from ‘Encyclopedia of the Unexplained’; “He believes that rather than interpret them as lines of energy created by the ‘biosphere’ of a living planet, they are trails along which sensitive people felt ‘drawn’ towards a spiritual centre, today often demarked by a church. Devereux thinks that there is an inter-relationship between much of the earth mysteries field and the collective consciousness of human beings.”

St Michael's Church and Tower at Burrowbridge
St Michaels Church and Tower

In my guidebook, John Michell says that:  “St Michael on the Tor is one of the stations in an alignment of Michael shrines that extends along the spine of southwest England… In very ancient times the path appears to have provided a pilgrimage route from the west to the great temple at Avebury. Eleven miles southwest of Glastonbury, the road to Taunton skirts another prominent St Michael’s Hill, also topped by a ruined church, known as ‘the Mump’ at Burrowbridge. From the church on the Mump, Glastonbury Tor is visible behind intervening hills. That alignment, from Mump to Tor, extends eastward precisely to the southern entrance of the Avebury ring, touching two of the enormous stones of the main circle.”

John Michell tells us about the St Michael shrines built on sacred high places: “St Michael shrines are commonly set on high places, where beacon fires once blazed on festival days. At such places, the electric forces of the atmosphere make contact with the magnetic powers of the earth, producing strange effects whose causes are unexplained by modern science. Balls of light emanating from the Tor are often seen hovering above it, giving rise to legends which vary with the times, from tales of fairies and demons to modern reports of unidentified flying objects.”

On reading this in my guidebook, little did I think that I too would come to experience this strange phenomenon.

On that evening, Wednesday 5 July, I shouldn’t have been walking up Glastonbury Tor at all, as it had been my intention to go the talk by Dr. Jacqueline Hobbs in Glastonbury. But, I was struggling with the heatwave we were having in Somerset, so after walking up and down and then around the base of the Burrowbridge Mump, followed by visiting the St Michaels and All Angels church in Somerton (read my previous blog post about it) and returning to my accommodation for a coffee and cold shower, I felt an urge to visit the Tor, where it would be cooler.

I think it was just after 6pm when I was heading up the Tor on this beautiful evening. There were still a few tourists around and as I reached the bench half-way up the Pilgrim Path to the Tor I was quite relieved to find it empty. As soon as I sat down, I noticed something quite unusual, I could see not far off, a group of about 15-20 seagulls that were flying/circling around a small area (I think they were above Chalice Hill), then I saw that about a metre in front of me, there were lots of midges or small flies that seemed to be static there and also in alignment with the seagulls.

Glastonbury Tor July 2017
view from the path up the Tor with a yellow circle to show the bench

Then I noticed something even stranger…  I saw a group of 4 or 5 coloured balls/shapes of light just above the trees at the base of the Tor, they seemed to flash by quickly and after a few seconds, they disappeared into the trees.

A few minutes later they returned again and I began to watch and study them. These shimmering coloured balls of light appeared above the trees near to where the path up the Tor begins and then floated around the base of the Tor before disappearing into the trees at the other side of the Tor, I think about where the path from the Tor comes out onto the road. The balls of light repeated this journey sometimes only seconds later and other times after a few minutes. Each time it only lasted for maybe 5 seconds and unfortunately, they were way too fast for me to photograph, plus I had the sun in my eyes and even wearing dark sunglasses I was having to shade my eyes with my hand in order to see them.

How can I describe them?
They weren’t exactly round balls of light, having more of an irregular shape and a kind of cloud-like form as if they weren’t solid. They were colourful, but not as luminescent and bight as a rainbow, sort of muted shades of different colours, pastel shades of aqua/pale green-blue and purple-pink.

After about 40 minutes I sensed a change in the air, I can’t recall if there was more of a breeze or if it had been stillness before and the wind had picked up, both the seagulls and flies disappeared and the lights didn’t return again.

I felt really honoured to have been part of this special experience on Glastonbury Tor.

I was filled with exhilaration, wonder and awe. Although my mind was trying to think of a logical explanation for what I had just seen. I couldn’t think of anything that could explain it.

I often see colours in the clouds, coronas of light and iridescence and these can be reasonably explained, but these balls of light on Glastonbury Tor were different with their speed and closeness to the ground.

Why did no-one else seem to notice them?
Whilst I was sat there on the bench, I didn’t see that many people walk past and they were usually keeping an eye on the path. There were a few people up at the Tor and a paraglider flew past, but maybe with them being higher up and further away, the lights might not have been as clear.

View from Glastonbury Tor the evening of 5 July 2017
View from the Tor of the paraglider

And what created this phenomenon? Was it an energy vortex?
Perhaps for a short while, the bridge between the seen and unseen dimensions was open and I witnessed the spirit energies of departing souls in this our world centre / axis mundi, a transitional place that connects heaven and earth. There are some theories about Glastonbury Tor being an ‘Avalonian Soul Portal’ and I feel I need to read more about it.

I guess it will remain a mystery of the Tor for a while longer…

This series of blog posts about my Glastonbury Experiences in Summer 2017 has grown from the short posts I originally intended to do. The more I delved into the articles, folklore and myths surrounding this enchanted place, the more fascinating information I came across and I wanted to share it with you in the hope that it’ll inspire you to visit these sacred places and feel the same magic there that I do.

Enjoy the journey on the road to your destination, Sam Rowena xx

More Info:

There’s quite a lot of info – books and websites – out there about Glastonbury, its energy, ley lines and mysterious lights:

Paul Devereux has written many books about ‘Earth Light’ phenomena. One of my favourite books is ‘Secrets of Ancient and Sacred Places’, in it he states than on one visit to the Tor in 1967, he too witnessed balls of light there.

Another favourite is the ‘Glastonbury Tor: Maker of Myths’ website, written by Frances Howard-Gordon, its a font of knowledge, with many interesting articles about the myths and legends of Glastonbury.

The Glastonbury Experience 2017 – angels and dragons

There seems to be angels and dragons everywhere in Somerset!
In this blog post, I will share some of the places I visited on my recent Glastonbury Experience journey and what I discovered about the angels and dragons there.

When you start to look around, you see that there are lots of angels and dragons everywhere, especially in our art, sculpture and churches.

angels at the 13th Century St Cuthberts church in Wells
angels at St Cuthberts church in Wells

I’ve always just accepted angels and dragons being here and part of our lives,  but I never really knew why so writing this blog post has been an interesting journey of discovery.

It has definitely been information overload, angels and dragons are fascinating and vast topics and it’s not been easy to just write a short blog post… but I’m going to try to keep this Glastonbury Experience blog post to just a bit of the info I’ve discovered about Archangel Michael and the angels/dragons that decorate a few of the places in and around Glastonbury.

Some info about angels:

In the ‘Secrets of the Universe in Symbols’ by Sarah Bartlett, “Regarded as messengers of God by Jews, Christians and Muslims, they embody heavenly purity and benevolence…” 

Some photos of angels and winged creatures that decorate the ancient 12th Century St Cuthbert’s Church in Wells, near Glastonbury in Somerset. It has a beautiful painted wooden roof decorated with angels, interesting history and carvings/stonework. For more of its history visit St Cuthbert’s website.

And this leads me on to St Michael/Archangel Michael, who he is and what he does, depends really on your faith and beliefs.

In the Sacred Sites blog on Glastonbury:
“St.Michael, or more properly the Archangel Michael, is traditionally regarded as an angel of light, the revealer of mysteries and the guide to the other world. Each of these qualities are in fact attributes of other earlier divinities that Michael supplanted. Frequently shown spearing dragons, St.Michael is widely recognized by scholars of mythology to be the Christian successor to pagan gods such as the Egyptian Thoth, the Greek Hermes, the Roman Mercury and the Celtic Bel. Mercury and Hermes were considered guardians of the elemental powers of the earth spirit, whose mysterious forces were sometimes represented by serpents and linear currents of dragon energy.”

According to Wikipedia:
“In the Roman Catholic teachings, Saint Michael has four main roles or offices. His first role is the leader of the Army of God and the leader of heaven’s forces in their triumph over the powers of hell. He is viewed as the angelic model for the virtues of the spiritual warrior, with the conflict against evil at times viewed as the battle within. The second and third roles of Michael in Catholic teachings deal with death. In his second role, Michael is the angel of death, carrying the souls of all the deceased to heaven. In this role Michael descends at the hour of death, and gives each soul the chance to redeem itself before passing; thus consternating the devil and his minions. Catholic prayers often refer to this role of Michael. In his third role, he weighs souls in his perfectly balanced scales. For this reason, Michael is often depicted holding scales. In his fourth role, St Michael, the special patron of the Chosen People in the Old Testament, is also the guardian of the Church. This role also extends to his being the patron saint of a number of cities and countries”

St Michael at Glastonbury Tor
a stone carving showing Archangel Michael balancing souls at St Michaels Tower, Glastonbury Tor

In Somerset, there are many churches and chapels dedicated/named after him, including the picturesque 13th Century (or possibly earlier) church of St Michael and All Angels in Somerton, near Glastonbury. It’s famous for its oak roof with its elaborate carvings, featuring 4 pairs of dragons, believed to have been carved by the carpenters from nearby Muchelnay Abbey around 1500.

dragonroof
the ancient oak roof at St Michael and All Angels in Somerton

Today Somerton is a small sleepy rural medieval hamlet, but once it was the main town of Somerset and even for a short while in the 7th Century, the capital of the ancient county of Wessex. In Medieval times it was an important crossroads on the road between London and the South-west, which has resulted in many lovely ancient medieval buildings and it’s a pretty place to wander around. For more of its history visit the Somerton Web Museum website.

“I don’t usually look up at ceilings, but it’s got me looking upwards to see what’s hidden there!”

the famous carved dragon roof at Somerton in Somerset
angels and dragons

Some info about dragons:

Wikipedia states that: “A dragon is a legendary creature, typically scaled or fire-spewing and with serpentine, reptilian or avian traits, that features in the myths of many cultures around the world.”

St Michael is often shown in images with his lance, battling a dragon. In Christianity and many other religions, it signifies good conquering evil.

But, there’s more to dragons than this… In China and many Asian countries, dragons are a symbol of good luck, power and strength.

There are many different types of dragons; ‘Wyvern’ dragons are two-legged winged dragons with barbed tails and these are usually the type shown with St Michael, whereas Chinese dragons are more snake like.

Until I began looking into why there are so many dragons here in Somerset, I hadn’t realised that it’s their main symbol. The Somerset county flag is a ‘Wyvern’ dragon in red and gold and for the past Century it’s been on the coat of arms for Somerset County Council and it used to be the symbol for the ancient county of Wessex, but it has an even older history going back to Celtic symbols and the Romans. Many of the counties logos, for schools, clubs and businesses feature ‘Wyvern’ dragons, and it’s on many other flags too, the most well-known one being the Welsh flag! For further info on the history of flags visit the: British County Flags blog

Glastonbury dragon
A dragon in Glastonbury on an ancient water fountain

An alternative view of dragons can also be found on the interesting and inspiring ‘Glastonbury Tor: Maker of Myths’ website, written by Frances Howard-Gordon:
“The Goddess took many forms and was represented in a variety of different aspects, but believers would see her essential nature in the harmony and balance of the natural order, the ebb and flow growth and decay of life itself. She was evoked and celebrated on hills and mountains, these being her seats or thrones on earth. It is interesting to note that many early images of the Goddess have spirals on their breasts, resembling the spiral on the Tor. Spirals also symbolised the coiled serpent or dragon, both regarded as sacred in the old religion. The dragon or serpent represented the natural energies of the earth and the sky – energies which were cooperated with and revered. In the Shakti cults of south-east Asia and China, dragons and serpents were associated with clouds and rain, and the Sumerian goddess Tiamat was a sea-serpent and Great Waters goddess. The Greek Mother of all things was the serpent Eurynome, who laid the world-egg. The dragon was also regarded as a manifestation of the psyche in which the real and the imaginary are blurred and are, as in nature, only different aspects of life.

…The first church on the Tor was probably of the late twelfth or early thirteenth century and was dedicated to St Michael – a dedication which was characteristic of such a hill-top site. St Michael, apart from being the ruler of archangels according to Christian tradition, was also the dragon-slayer and the personal adversary of Satan. Early Christianity believed the gods of the old religion to be fallen angels or demons. The Christian church seems to have had a definite policy of building churches dedicated to St Michael on the old religious sites and sacred mounds. Since the Tor and its spiral maze represented the dragon, a symbol of the Primal Mother or Earth Spirit in pagan times, the building of a church dedicated to the dragon-slayer was obviously meant to act as a powerful deterrent to any kind of pagan celebration.”

My research into angels and dragons has been quite a revelation and given me a whole new outlook on them. I still view them with awe and wonder, but it’s combined with greater knowledge and a desire to know more…

My next blog post – Glastonbury Experience July 2017, St Michael pilgrimage path – follows soon, come and join me on my journey, Sam Rowena x

The Glastonbury Experience 2017 – ancient trees

Being around trees gives us a sense of belonging to the world. They are a living, breathing part of our planet, with a deep connection to our earth providing ‘life’ for us… and each type of tree has a unique smell, wood and leaves. They are revered for their wisdom and many ancient myths and legends have grown up around them.

Trees have a magical quality, an air of mystery. Do they belong to an enchanted world?

I’ve always believed that they are the home of fairies and elves. This belief stems from my childhood; as a small child, my mum would tell me stories about the magical creatures that lived in ancient trees. I was smitten and would talk to the fairies that lived in their gnarled holes and see if I could spot any.

This blog post is about a few of the ancient trees I visited near Glastonbury in Somerset on my Glastonbury Experience pilgrimage in July 2017.

On my last visit to Glastonbury, I’d bought some guidebooks to help me to learn about and explore the ancient and sacred places around Glastonbury and further afield. ‘The Traveller’s Guide to Sacred England’ by John Mitchell, led me to go and see the ancient Yew tree at Dundon, 5 miles South of Glastonbury.

Ancient yew tree at Dundon

According to my guidebook:
“The site is naturally adapted for worship and contemplation and its qualities were no doubt recognised in Celtic times. Testifying to its early religious significance is the huge and venerable yew tree in front of the church porch. The yew is thought to have stood for over a thousand years and is, therefore, older than the present church”.

Yew trees are poisonous evergreen trees, with red berries, their sap can be blood red and they are able to regenerate, sprouting new roots. They are known as a sacred tree, the Tree of life, regeneration and rebirth. There are many myths and legends about yew trees and why they are planted next to churches. Is it possible they were planted at ancient sacred sites and churches were then built there at a later date?

This info is from www.plant-lore.com
“For those of the Christian faith, a yew tree is symbolic of Christian Resurrection as it has the ability to regenerate by sending down a shoot from high up which then takes root in a crevice near the base of the old tree, thus giving birth to new life.”

ancient yew tree
Ancient yew tree at Dundon

This info is from www.whitedragon.org.uk
“In the past, they were used as landmarks, because of their size and longevity, and their dark branches would make them stand out in the landscape. Yew groves planted by the Druids were common by ancient ways, on sacred sites, hilltops, ridge-ways and burial grounds. Tribal leaders were buried beneath Yew trees, in the sure belief that their knowledge and wisdom would be joined with the Dryad of the Yew and therefore still be accessible to the tribe for generations to come.”

In this quiet spot next to the simple but beautiful 13th Century Church of St Andrew in the small hamlet of Dundon, this yew tree is cared for and feels at peace in its surroundings. A stark difference to my visit to the ancient oak trees Gog and Magog near Glastonbury.

ancient yew tree
The ancient Yew Tree at Dundon

It was only by accident that I ended up visiting them at all…
I was giving Michiel (a healer I’d bumped into a few times over the years) a lift to Glastonbury on my way to visit Wells, he was carrying a heavy backpack and as it was such a hot muggy day, I said I’d drop him off nearer to the campsite he was going to. But we got lost down a small one-way track past Glastonbury Tor.  He remembered that the campsite was just across the field and he could take the footpath there. He said the ancient oak trees Gog and Magog were just a few minutes walk along the path. What a great opportunity to go and see them, I’d read about them and planned to visit them on one of my trips to Glastonbury.

When we came across them, I was shocked and saddened. I had expected to find them in a shady grove with an aura of enchantment surrounding them. But, not like this… they were forlorn and dying, completely boxed into a small space with high fencing around them.

Michiel said when he last visited them, you could easily access them and they weren’t in this sorry state.  We looked around and I thought we’d manage to get to them (over the fence on one side, across a small dry brook, through the barbed wire fencing and avoiding the thorns and nettles).  I felt so sad to see them like this, boxed in between high fencing and a high hedge that separated the trees from a caravan park in the field next to them, in fact, there was a caravan just a few metres from Magog.

“Just to be there for a short while and give them some healing energy, as they felt so forlorn, unloved and hidden from sight.”

It’s appalling that these once great oaks should be left like this to wither and die without our love and respect… and my visit prompted me to write this blog post.

My initial reaction was that perhaps the landowner had done this to deter pilgrims and people from visiting this sacred site, especially seeing how closely situated the caravan park was to Gog and Magog. But, I’ve done further research since getting home and it looks like the council has had them boarded up, to protect them from further harm (!!!) as someone putting a tea light candle inside Gog’s hollow interior had set the tree on fire. More about the fire in April this year in Morgana West’s blog post.

There are many myths and legends surrounding oak trees – especially Gog and Magog – and their link to the Druids and pagan Celts.

According to www.druidry.org – “We first learn about the oak as sacred to the Druids in the well-known passage from the writings of Pliny, who lived in Gaul during the 1st century CE. He writes that the Druids performed all their religious rites in oak-groves, where they gathered mistletoe from the trees with a golden sickle…. Many early Christian churches were situated in oak-groves, probably because they were once pagan places of worship.”

This info is from www.unitythroughdiversity.org
“These two ancient oak trees – with the traditional and biblical names of giant beings – stand in one of the further reaches of the sacred Avalon landscape, where they are in a relationship of alignment with other aspects of the sacred landscape such as the nearby Tor, Chalice Hill, the Abbey and Wearyall Hill.
Known as the ‘Oaks of Avalon’, the two trees are said to be a traditional point of entry onto the island, and were also part of a ceremonial Druidic avenue of oak trees running towards the Tor and beyond. ‘This avenue was cut down around 1906 to clear the ground of a farm.’ Extract from Maker of Myths – Published by Gothic Image.”

Here are a few more websites with the myths and folklore of oak and yew trees:

yew tree – www.treesforlife.org.uk  / www.druidry.org
oak tree – www.treesforlife.org.uk / www.druidry.org

I’d only intended to write a short blog post about my visit to the Dundon yew tree and Gog and Magog oak trees, but delving into the myths and legends of our ancient trees I uncovered so much info I wanted to share with you. It’s been an interesting journey of discovery for me, I hope you will enjoy it too and that it will inspire you to visit these or other sacred trees. More of my Glastonbury Summer 2017 experiences are to follow in my next two blog posts. 
Sam Rowena xxx

The Glastonbury Experience 2017

I want to share with you some of the magical experiences from my recent Glastonbury road trip. Each time I visit Somerset and Glastonbury I’ve enjoyed its beauty, been blessed with mystical experiences and interesting conversations with unusual people.

Ever since my first visit to Glastonbury a few years ago, its been drawing me back to it and I try to make a pilgrimage there at least once (or twice) a year.  I do normally avoid travelling in the Summer months when I suffer from hay-fever and also usually find there are too many tourists around. But, this year, my planned trip in the Springtime was postponed, as a close family member was ill and has sadly passed away. (I’m just now returning to writing my blog posts).

Glastonbury Tor
a beautiful evening at Glastonbury Tor

I felt I needed this break away more than ever! The healing energy of Glastonbury and its White Spring helps me to become more balanced. It renews and restores my energy, alongside helping my self-belief and inner calmness to grow.

There’ll be a few blog posts to follow from my recent Glastonbury Experience:

  • Dragons and Angels
  • Ancient trees
  • St Michael Pilgrimage Path

Come with me on my journey xx Sam Rowena

jewelart fused glass designs 2017

Its like alchemy how my stacked pieces of glass are magically transformed into gorgeous mini works of art.  Each one turns out different and its so exciting to discover what the kiln fairy has been up to and done to my work…

Ok, I know there is some chemistry involved too!

So a bit of glass chemistry:

The glass that I use all has to be of the same COE and from the same manufacturer, so that its compatible together and will expand and contract at the same rate, otherwise if its not stable it could crack when it cools down.

Some of the glass has copper, selenium and other minerals in it and will react differently with the things its combined it; other glass, wire and bubbles.

jewelart heart design glass
A unique heart design fused glass pendant available from my jewelart by Sam Rowena webshop

I love the iridescent and sparkly bubbles and add powder to help create them.  They also partly form due to the air that is trapped inside the glass layers whilst the pieces are being fused. Elements of different heights, have more potential to trap air and a complete wire shape will trap more air inside it.
This is why there is a bubble inside the wire heart shapes in my jewelart heart design fused glass pendants.

During the firing process, sometimes the glass moves out of place as it heats up and carefully stacked layers will slide or topple over, and this often results in a piece that doesn’t work out.

jewelart mishapen heart glass
some of the glass has moved to one side and created misshapen glass

As well as the chemistry involved with fusing, there’s the unknown quantity of combining different colours together; which involves some experimenting, writing notes and taking photos.

But, if I don’t like how some of the glass has turned out. All isn’t lost, as I will usually add another layer to it and then put it back in the kiln for another go!

Over the Winter, I’ve had a break from making glass – I was busy with events on the run up to Christmas, then developing my webshop and suffering with a bad back – so its been lovely to get back to my glass work and experiment making some more heart pendants with my new dichroic glass. Read more about these in my webshop blog.

There’s now the opportunity for you to purchase one of my unique fused glass pendants at the jewelart by Sam Rowena webshop or why not come along and meet me at one of my jewelart pop-up shops at events across Lancashire and North-West England, where you’ll have a larger selection of my gorgeous glass pieces to choose from.

Sam Rowena x

2017 looking forwards and backwards

Moving forward in 2017 with new ideas, dreams and goals!

I begin with looking backwards over the last year and a half. I’ve had a few health issues to overcome, which have taken me on a quest to find alternative remedies and a lifestyle that will help to heal me. This path has enabled me discover some amazing places and unique experiences, including visits to Glastonbury Tor and its White Spring, Stonehenge and sacred stone circles and wells in Cornwall. I’ll be featuring some of these special places in my Spring blog posts. 

These health problems have helped me to evaluate my life, think about what I’m doing, what my future goals are and what I need to focus on during the year ahead.

I feel its time for a change and its led me to make a few decisions…

teaching
Since I retrained as a teacher in 2003, teaching has taken up a lot of my time. Initially I juggled teaching part-time at multiple colleges, alongside organising and teaching my own jewelley making classes. But for the past few years, I’ve gradually been reducing my teaching work, to enable me to spend more time designing, making and taking part in events.

I love teaching and have enjoyed helping my students to develop their jewellery making skills, but I don’t enjoy all of the other work involved with it quite as much. The teaching side of it is really only a small part, as there’s lots of time needed for the organising, admin and prep-work. With this in mind, I’m running my last organised jewellery making classes in March and April 2017.  After this, I’ll still continue teaching my jewellery making private tuition and bespoke group bookings.

events
I enjoy doing events, having the opportunity to meet interesting people – potential customers, other stallholders and friends – and I’ve found that some events work better for me, so I’ll be taking a break from a couple of events and in their place I’ll try out some different ones.

jewelart by Sam Rowena webshop
model Janette Cheng wearing a jewelart squiggle necklace

name / webshop
2017 also brings with it a new name and webshop: www.samrowena.co.uk
Jewelart by Sam Rowena Taylor.
I feel a deep connection to all the jewellery that I design and make – it brings together my love of colour, symbolic shapes and a bit of sparkle. Over the coming months there’s more work to do on my webshop, but I’m really happy with how its progressing.

other plans
Where to start?
Develop my meditation, energy work and photography skills, more hiking, visiting sacred places and learning about ancient symbols. Spend time with family and friends, fit in my normal day-to-day stuff and make time to dream and design…

Its exciting, I feel a new path beckoning me, a renewed energy and despite our testing times, a hope for the future!

Yours Sam Rowena, jewellery artist x

Events review 2016

What a busy year 2016 has been! Taking part and experiencing events in all-sorts of amazing venues and locations, including the lovely Lytham Hall, Brantwood and Manchester Cathedral, plus having an opportunity to meet and chat to lots of interesting people.

Many of these events were great and my work received brilliant feedback with some of it heading off to new homes. But my journey though 2016 involved both ‘ups and downs’ and its often difficult to stay strong and not let disappointing sales or other factors dent your self-confidence and belief in your work.

Alongside doing some of my favourite events again, I took part in a number of new events, these are very much ‘try it and see’…

“Normally, I try to choose events that have quite a strict selection process favouring designer-makers and limiting the number of similar stalls, but each year I try out a few different types of events to see how they’ll work for me.”

One of my major niggles – which is a problem at many events – is an overload of both jewellery and glass, as there’s only going to be a certain number of visitors that are interested in buying these items at an event.

This was actually one of the factors that prompted me to organise both the Easter and November ‘handmade in Lancashire’ pop-up events at Barton Grange Garden Centre. I really enjoyed having these opportunities to do events together with my neighbouring studios, plus a few makers from the Art and Craft Guild of Lancashire and guest artists/makers. I didn’t make any money from organising them, but they were great learning experiences for me. Sadly, there won’t be any more of our events at this venue, due to the increase in the room hire.

There seems to be so many different ‘art and craft’ events now, perhaps its become a bit of an event overload, too many for the number of local people interested in buying from them.

jewelart popup 2016
jewelart pop-up 2016

For the moment I just want to concentrate on developing my web shop and will see what 2017 brings… I’m hoping though that the events I take part in will go well and there’ll be some more of my jewelart pop-up shops.

Samantha, jewellery artist x

pop-up with RedThumbPrint 2016

Red Thumb Print and Jewelart Christmas pop-up shop at the Platform Gallery in Clitheroe.

Our collaboration to do a pop-up shop at the Platform Gallery came about quite by accident, whilst we were neighboring stalls at the Clitheroe Christmas Market and got chatting about our difficulties finding decent designer-maker events in Lancashire.

In previous years, I’d taken part in the Platform Gallery Christmas Makers pop-ups and we decided to see if there was any availability for us to do a pop-up there before Christmas. But, the only dates left that we could both do, were the Friday before Christmas and the next day, Christmas Eve. Would there be many visitors then? We decided to give it a go anyway and find out…

Red Thumb Print
Red Thumb Print

“I thought it might be too close to Christmas, but I’m glad to say it was better than expected with our work being greatly admired by gallery visitors and some of it going off to new homes as Christmas presents.”

It was a brilliant showcase for our work. Our displays looked fab, the complimentary chocolate and biscuits went down pretty well, we had a bit of Christmas music and even my new up-cycled Christmas decorations were a success.

making jewelart

During the pop-up shop, I decided to trial a creative activity that would help me to interact with people visiting the gallery and I sat making up-cycled Christmas decorations using recycled beads, wire and vintage chandelier crystals. Gallery visitors could buy ones that I’d just created or choose a personalised one that I made / adapted whilst they looked around the gallery. Alternatively if they had a few minutes to spare they could watch a demo, then have ‘a go’ and make their own piece of sculptural wirework, which I’d add to their chosen decoration. It went down really well and I’m going to include similar activities at my future pop-up shops.

“I really enjoyed chatting to everyone, visitors and customers alike, there are some real characters and interesting people that come and visit the gallery. Its a lovely place to spend a few days…” Samantha, jewellery artist

more Info

www.redthumbprint.co.uk
Red Thumb Print makes contemporary furniture, wine racks, and home accessories. Furniture with personality, handmade with love in Lancashire!

www.ribblevalley.gov.uk/platformgallery
Platform Gallery info

  • Visitor information centre
  • In the gallery shop there is a curated selection of Lancashire and Northern craft
  • In the main gallery space there are changing exhibitions throughout year
  • In the Education Gallery space there’s often something on; either demonstrations, workshops and talks linked to the main exhibition, or pop-up art and craft exhibitions by artists and designer-makers

Northern Lights 2016

A superb showcase of Lancashire and North-West craft can be found at the Platform Gallery annual Christmas exhibition. There are a number of handmade Christmas themed pieces as well as lovely designer art and craft gifts.

I was really excited to be invited to take part in the exhibition again and am exhibiting a selection of abstract fused glass and beaded sculptural wirework with bronze, copper, red, fuscia and vivid emerald green colours (Autumn/Winter colour theme).

jewelart venus fused glass earrings
jewelart venus glass earrings

The Platform Gallery hosts a number of different exhibitions each year and is a great place to visit on a day out in the lovely picturesque market town of Clitheroe. The Gallery – in what used to be the train station ticket office – is ideally situated next to the trains, buses and car parking and is also the Visitor Information Centre.

The Northern Star Christmas exhibition is a great opportunity to buy something handmade locally, whether its ‘just a card’ and a Christmas decoration or a unique present!

In the Education Gallery space there’s often something on; either demonstrations, workshops and talks linked to the main exhibition, or pop-up art and craft exhibitions by artists and designer-makers.

northernlight16red
Red Thumb Print Rudolph’s

Which leads me onto… Meet the Designer-Makers Christmas pop-up shop in the Education Gallery.

Myself and David from RedThumbPrint furniture will be there on Friday 23 and Saturday 24 December. An opportunity for you to come along and meet us, chat with us about our work and buy your last minute Christmas gifts.

Friday 23  December 11-5pm and Saturday 24 December 10-3pm

jewelart wirework xmas decoration
abstract wirework xmas decoration

Watch me making unique Christmas decorations with vintage chandelier crystals, recycled beads and wire. Buy one (£4 each or 3 for £10) of these or you can customise your own, have a go at bending wire into an abstract shape for a few minutes and I’ll add it to your christmas decoration  x Samantha, Jewellery Artist

 

more info:

www.ribblevalley.gov.uk/platformgallery
Platform Gallery info

www.redthumbprint.co.uk
Red Thumb Print Makes Contemporary Furniture, Wine Racks, and Home Accessories. Furniture with Personality, Handmade with Love in Lancashire!

www.facebook.com
Facebook event page

Lytham Hall Winter Art Fair 2016

It was lovely to be back at Lytham Hall to take part in the first weekend of the Hopeful and Glorious Winter Art Fairs 2016. Despite the bad weather on the Saturday – a mix of rain, snow, sleet and hail – thankfully it improved and we had some sunshine on the Sunday, which made a big difference, everyone seemed happier, we had lots of visitors and a better day all round.

There’s always a great selection of arts and crafts, and I have to admit that I get a bit of stall envy looking at how some people display their work… So, with this in mind, I’d been recently trying to revamp and de-clutter my display, especially as I need to make room for some new glass designs. Quite a few of my ‘classic design’ sterling silver bead earrings have moved into a ‘sale section’ and I’ve been making a new display for my glass jewellery with a gorgeous vintage frame that I’d discovered a few months ago in a charity shop.

new glass display
putting together my new vintage display

It takes time getting together all the bits and pieces for the display; the felt, wadding, netting etc and to figure out how to get it to stand upright and attach it to my stall. Luckily, I had help from ASC, a shop in Chorley (its a DIY suppliers, that sell allsorts of fittings and fixtures, wood etc), a really nice guy helped me out there and I was able to get my display finished and ready in time for this event at Lytham Hall.

“I’m chuffed to bits with this gorgeous display! I don’t know if I’ll ever manage minimal, but its looking a bit better.”

Its a hidden gem, a beautiful building in a lovely location that’s brought back to life hosting the arts and crafts fair. Hopeful and Glorious do a brilliant job, selecting the 30 plus artists, managing and promoting it. I’ve really seen it grow since the first event 2 years ago, which is great for Lancashire art and craft as we have very few really good events for us to showcase our work and we usually have to travel further afield to do events.

Enjoyed taking part in it, catching up with other artists and friends that came to visit, and having the opportunity for visitors to see my work. Even better, my jewellery got lots of compliments and some of it went off to new homes.
Samantha, jewellery artist x

“I look forward to hopefully being back there again at another glorious event in the Spring!”

more info: 
Lytham Hall, Lytham, Lancashire
Hopeful and Glorious, art and craft fairs in Lancashire
ASC Chorley, Timber Supplies and DIY store, Chorley, Lancashire

an earlier blog post from 2015 with more photos and info about Lytham Hall

jewelart sculptural wirework and fused glass jewellery