Category Archives: interests

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

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

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 Staffordshire Hoard – Mysteries of the bearded man

One of the Anglo Saxon pieces in the Warrior Treasures exhibition of the Staffordshire Hoard particularly stood out from the rest, as it seemed to have a different design.

The detailing and workmanship on this sword pommel wasn’t quite as intricate, it had different colouring – not being gold (although some little bits of gold can still be seen) – and I think its the only one decorated with a strange face, alongside its zoomorphic animal designs.

I was intrigued by it and wanted to discover more about it… Does this bearded face have some significance? and what does it mean?

Anglo Saxon bearded man
bearded man image

I had come across other similar faces in Anglo-Saxon artwork and in churches, symbols for the Celtic Green Man, ancient gods and other deities.

My first internet search yielded a thesis paper by Rachel D. Brewer about the Staffordshire Hoard, which had a paragraph about the piece (it was written just after the Hoard had been discovered, so there may be newer evidence that’s come to light since then). It stated that the bearded man pommel is believed to be one of the oldest items in the Hoard and from the late 6th Century, possibly of Scandinavian origin. Its made from a copper-alloy and has a ‘ski-slope’ style shape.

On my next internet search, I came across a blog post written by Rosie Weetch, curator and Craig Williams, illustrator at the British Museum. ‘Decoding Anglo-Saxon art‘ helped explain it further for me, that these animal patterns have multi-layered symbolic meanings and stories behind them. The following passage from the blog is really interesting:

“…is a bearded face with a helmet underneath two birds that may represent the Germanic god Woden/Odin with his two companion ravens. The image of a god alongside other powerful animals may have offered symbolic protection to the wearer like a talisman or amulet.”

Anglo Saxon bearded man design
The Information board at the Warrior Treasures Staffordshire Hoard exhibition shows the designs on the pommel

Although, in the blog post other examples of Anglo-Saxon bearded faces were featured, it does seem to fit this pommel design, as I can clearly see 2 birds/ravens on the pommel, one at either side of bearded face.

I did some Wikipedia research on it:  “In Old Norse texts, Odin is depicted as one-eyed and long-bearded, frequently wielding a spear named Gungnir, and wearing a cloak and a broad hat. He is often accompanied by his animal companions—the wolves Geri and Freki and the ravens Huginn and Muninn…”

There’s further info on Wikipedia about the Norse god Odin, and his companions, the wolves and ravens.

The animals on the reverse side of the pommel have been interpreted as boars, the jagged teeth are quite prominent, but perhaps these could be his wolf companions?

Looking down at the top of the pommel you can see a lovely interlace pattern, but also that it looks quite worn / well used. I found more info about this on another blog post by the ‘Thegns of Mercia’:

“Given most items in the hoard are dated to the 7th to early 8th century, sth711 is something quite special. It may be hundreds of years older than the rest of the hoard; a historical artifact even before it was buried.

“There’s far more that is peculiar about this piece, though. First, it’s apex has seen its 2+ mm deep relief completely rubbed away. It’s fair to say that the top third of the pommel cap has lost all it’s decoration to wear and tear. This contrasts strongly with most other items in the hoard which, though made from softer materials, do not display this kind of damage. They are mangled and bent from detachment, yes, but for the most part, they were not subject to decades or centuries of wear before they were put in the ground…” read more of their blog post


I’m completely amazed by what I discovered about it!
Wow… The mysterious bearded man representing the Pagan god Wodin / Odin would indeed make it a very special sword and pommel. I think the Anglo-Saxons believed it would offer them protection and bring them good luck, especially as it had been used in many battles and had been kept and handed down the generations.
I had only intended to write a short blog post, just one or two paragraphs about this intriguing Anglo Saxon piece in the Staffordshire Hoard, but I kept on discovering more about it. I hope you’ll also find this blog post interesting. You too can visit and see this piece in the Staffordshire Hoard exhibition
x Samantha, jewellery artist 

The Staffordshire Hoard Spiral Workshops

Taking inspiration from the Anglo Saxon spiral designs in the Staffordshire Hoard exhibition and linking it to jewellery making, I taught 2 spiral jewellery making workshops for the Leeds Royal Armouries Museum in July and August 2016 as part of their Warrior Treasures exhibition.

It was a pleasure and an honour to be able to combine teaching jewellery making with my interest in the Anglo Saxons. It also mean’t I’d have another opportunity to visit the Staffordshire Hoard Warrior Treasures exhibition.

a mixture of spiral and other patterns
a mixture of spiral and other patterns

Anglo Saxon design is fascinating and its so intricate. I’m especially interested in ancient civilizations in particular their art and design, as I studied design for 3 years at college (this was followed by working as an in-house designer for a number of years, before retraining as a teacher. I also studied silversmithing for 5 years part-time at college and have been making jewellery for over 25 years).

one of my spiral demonstration pieces
spiral demonstration

The workshop included many demos, as we covered a number of different spiral designs, from basic spirals to double spirals using different types and thicknesses of copper wire, plus there were a few continuation spiral designs. This was followed by turning these spiral pieces into jewellery.

Everyone that took part in the workshops, seemed to enjoy themselves and became engrossed in making their spirals and finished the day with a number of pieces of spiral jewellery, including earrings, pendants, charms and a spiral charm / pendant beaded cord necklace or bracelet.

Some of the super spiral jewellery created by the students on these workshops:

Samantha, jewellery artist x

The Staffordshire Hoard Spirals

The pieces on display in the Warrior Treasures Staffordshire Hoard exhibition are completely fascinating and enchanting. So much work and skills has gone into creating them. There are a number of pieces that are decorated with spirals, most of these have double spirals, but a few of them have a mixture of different spiral patterns.

sea horse piece decorated with spiral patterns
my favourite piece in the hoard in the shape of a horse and decorated with double spirals

Many ancient civilizations across the world used spirals in their artwork. Neolithic examples that are 4-5,000 years old can be seen at the entrance to the Newgrange passage tomb in Ireland as well as Megalithic Temple decoration in Malta.

malta spirals
Neolithic / Copper Age spiral temple decoration from Malta

Spirals are believed to signify the cycle of life and double spirals  the Spring and Autumn equinoxes.

Maybe the use of spirals by these ancient civilizations helped to make them revered mysterious symbols and continue their usage by later civilizations.

Some of the spiral decorated pieces in the Staffordshire Hoard exhibition:

Taking inspiration from these Anglo Saxon spiral designs in the Staffordshire Hoard exhibition and linking it to jewellery making, I taught 2 spiral jewellery making workshops for the Leeds Royal Armouries Museum in July and August 2016 as part of their Warrior Treasures exhibition.

See some pieces created by my students on these workshops in my next blog post. Samantha, jewellery artist x

The Staffordshire Hoard

The ‘Warrior Treasures, Saxon Gold from the Staffordshire Hoard’ exhibition is on at Leeds Royal Armouries Museum until 2 October 2016. This stunning exhibition is not too be missed!

This treasure was discovered in 2009 in a field in Staffordshire by a metal detectorist.

map of discovery Staffordshire Hoard
the map showing where the Staffordshire Hoard had been discovered

Since its discovery, the objects have been cleaned and studied by archaeologists and the treasure’s story is slowly being revealed. The decorations on these hidden weapons are giving us further insight and knowledge about the world of the Anglo Saxon’s in the 7th Century.

The warrior Treasures exhibition at Leeds Royal Armouries Museum

Some info about the Hoard from the Leeds Royal Armouries museum leaflet:

“The Staffordshire Hoard is the largest collection of Anglo-Saxon treasure ever found. It was probably buried over 1300 years ago, around AD 650-675. The hoard contains beautifully crafted gold and silver objects which were originally used to decorate high status swords and knives. Nothing like this has ever been found before.”

for more info – visit the Leeds Royal Armouries Museum website

At the end of 2012, I was nearby Stoke collecting my kiln stand and got chatting to the lady I’d bought my kiln off and discovered from her that the Staffordshire Hoard exhibition was on in Stoke. I spent an enjoyable afternoon looking at the exhibits, learning about them and being absorbed in another world. I was fascinated by the skill involved in designing and creating such beautiful pieces. A mix of different styles has been used; garnet and gold cloisonné work using step and key patterns in the carpet style, zoomorphic animals, interlace patterns and filigree spiral decoration. They are amazing!

different patterns and styles of Anglo Saxon art
some examples of Anglo-Saxon patterns and decoration in the Staffordshire Hoard

I never imagined at the time, that a few years later I would have the opportunity to be involved with the Staffordshire Hoard touring exhibition at Leeds Royal Armouries Museum and teach some jewellery making workshops using inspiration from the spiral designs in the Staffordshire Hoard.

It follows on from my previous jewellery making workshops a few years ago for the Lindisfarne Gospels exhibition in Durham and the Landscapes Project in the Forest of Bowland. These enabled me to bring together my teaching of jewellery making with my interest in the artwork designs of the Anglo-Saxons.

See some examples created at these workshops in my next blog posts, Samantha x

My glass fusing journey – glue

To create some of my jewelart abstract glass pendants, I use glue to attach a bail onto the glass and I have to admit that gluing is one of my least favourite tasks, here are some of my adventures learning how best to use it.

You would think that gluing a bail onto a glass cabochon would be a piece of cake. But there is more to it than you think, for a start, you can’t just use any old glue…

Glass has got a smooth and cold surface and not all types of glue create a good bond, such as the hot glue guns. Superglue would glue a metal bail onto glass no problem, but then if you drop the glass it is more likely to shatter than using epoxy glue.

Epoxy adhesive creates a good bond and if the glass pendant is dropped, it takes the impact of the fall – rather than the glass, when superglue is used – but this weakens the glue’s bond. Another problem with epoxy glues is that in very hot weather the glue can melt.

Before you begin to glue, you first have to roughen/sand the part of the glass and bail to be glued, followed by cleaning them with acetone and then you are ready to glue.

jewelart glass cabochan
glass cabochon

My glass journey using glue

For my first pendants in 2010 I used a glue from B&Q that I’d been recommended, but I had mixed results with it. After spending some time researching glass glues on the internet, I moved over to E6000, which is the standard epoxy glue used by many glass artists as its easy to use, it comes premixed in a tube and isn’t expensive.
I bought my first extra large tube of E6000 from America on ebay and it seemed to work fine, but my next tube that I got from ebay (England) I had problems with, so I went back to using the first tube and began having mixed results with this one too. I wondered as I’d been using it for a few years, whether over time the glue had lost its strength. Next, I purchased a small tube from an English bead company, but again I was getting mixed results and was sometimes having to reglue the pendants to make them secure, a lot of hastle.

I needed to find a better solution for my glass gluing and looked further into the other options available. One of the companies I buy my glass from recommends using the 3M epoxy glue, its quite expensive (costs 10x more than E6000), you have to mix it yourself, plus you need to wear a proper face mask.

I moved over to this glue at the beginning of 2016 and ‘touch wood’ it seems to be working, as I’ve been wearing a pendant I made and glued in February and the bail is secure.

well it should do too, as they say on their website that it will glue a car to the side of the wall!

jewelart glass pendants

I wear my own glass pendants, plus some of my family and friends wear them too and I want everyone that has purchased a glass pendant to enjoy wearing them.

If you’ve purchased a jewelart glass pendant (with a bail design) and the glue has failed / the bail has come off your pendant, please contact me and send me the glass cabochan & bail or give them to me at an event:

  • purchased in the past 12 months – I am happy to reglue the bail on it for you and post it back to you free of charge
  • purchased over 12 months – I am happy to reglue it for you free of charge, but there will be a small charge of £2 p&p
  • if you want me to apply a new bail to your jewelart glass cabochon, I can do this for an extra £3 charge