Category Archives: interests

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 to 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 love of the artwork designs of the Anglo-Saxons.

See some examples created at these workshops in my next blog posts.
Thanks for joining me on my creative journey,
Sam Rowena, jewellery artist 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.

The 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 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 the 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 hassle.

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, it’s 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.

Thanks for joining me on my creative journey, 
Sam Rowena, jewellery artist x

My Glass Fusing Journey 5

Glass is entrancing and enticing… The lure of the beauty of glass, with its amazing colours, depth and sparkle.

I’m honoured that when people see my glass jewellery displayed at events, it gets such a great reaction, its admired and complimented.

jewelart abstract glass pendant
A jewelart glass pendant design, Spring 2016

At these events, I chat about my glasswork to visitors and I’m also often asked if I teach glass fusing.

A few of the reasons why I decided not to teach glass fusing:

  • There are already many other people teaching glass fusing, just in about a 30-mile radius of Preston, I know of more than 10 people teaching glass fusing (see paragraph below).
  • The health and safety aspect of it puts me off in this day and age and I wouldn’t feel comfortable teaching with glass.
  • The time involved and I prefer to spend my time developing my own work.

So, here are just a few of the people I know in the local area / Lancashire that teach glass fusing classes:

  1. Collette Halstead  –
    Once or twice, when I was teaching jewellery making classes at Alston Hall Adult College I popped in to to see Colette’s glass class there and was very impressed. Although Alston Hall college closed Christmas 2015, I think Colette still might be teaching classes at her studio near Preston.
  2. Julie Langan – julie langan facebook page
    I met Julie when I used to teach my bebeady jewellery making classes at Cedar Farm (I’ve bought a few of her glass pieces) and know a lot of people that have enjoyed doing her glass fusing workshops and created large scale glass pieces at her studio/gallery at Cedar Farm, Mawdesley.
  3. Lynda Drummond – glass boutique Facebook page
    I’ve met Lynda at local events, she’s lovely. She makes cards and fused glass and teaches glass fusing workshops in Lytham St Annes.
  4. Karen Redmayne –
    I’ve met Karen over the years doing events and she teaches glass classes at her studio in Barrowford.

Lots of others teach glass fusing classes in St Annes, Burnley, Blackpool, Wigan etc. Plus some of the adult education colleges might still teach glass fusing classes, such as Lancaster Adult Education college.

glass experiment
one of my glass experiments using float glass at the Lancaster Adult college class

If you want to learn and have ‘a go’ at glass fusing I would definitely recommend going on a few classes with different teachers, as each teacher will teach it differently. Some teach using float glass and others with coloured and dichroic glass, which will be a good opportunity to learn and have a go using the various types of glass and see how your experiments turn out. Plus you’ll learn how to cut glass and get to know about the materials, tools and machinery.

Glass is so magical if you decide to have a go at glass fusing, enjoy your learning and experimenting with it.

Thanks for joining me on my creative journey,
Sam Rowena, jewellery artist x

My Glass Fusing Journey 4

Glass is entrancing and enticing… The lure of the beauty of glass, with its amazing colours, depth and sparkle.

I’m continually learning / experimenting and developing my skills on my amazing glass fusing journey, but I wouldn’t have got where I am without some help from others… it was my friend Sue I have to thank for getting me started on this path in the first place and I was helped by Christine and other members of the Southport Ceramic Artists group where I began fusing glass. Also, some of the other Lancashire glass artists I know, have helped me with kiln advice, plus when I bought my second-hand kiln I was given some helpful kiln notes from its previous owner. My second-hand kiln was still under its 3-year guarantee and Kiln Care who make these kilns, have been a great help (even sending me a new digital controller, when it developed problems on the cusp of the guarantee ending).

The journey has not been without some glitches though… before I got my kiln I was getting quite despondent with many of my wirework glass and other experiments not working out and still, now I continue my learning, especially when I’m trying out new ideas, as many of my experiments can be ‘hit and miss’.

glass and wire experiment – problems with uneven edges

I’m really careful when I’m handling glass, especially cutting glass. To help me to combat my fear of cutting large pieces of glass and also to help develop my skills and knowledge further, I attended the Summer term glass fusing course 2 years ago at Lancaster college.

It really did help me. I had to cut very large pieces of glass and break them with my hands!

The course also gave me the opportunity to have ‘a go’ with other techniques, tools and machinery I’d not used before, such as a circle cutter (I decided this wasn’t for me as I don’t have enough strength in my hands and my circles turned into moons, haha), a grinder and etching paste. We also used a different type of glass, float glass otherwise known as ‘windowpane glass’, which is much cheaper than the type of glass I normally work with.

my moon shape circle piece made at the glass fusing class

Typically, I prefer the most expensive type of glass!
As I love anything that sparkles, I use dichroic glass (combined mostly with coloured glass) in my glasswork, which is ultra-expensive, but very sparkly too.

Thanks for joining me on my creative journey, more to follow…
Sam Rowena, jewellery artist x

My Glass Fusing Journey 3

Glass is entrancing and enticing… The lure of the beauty of glass, with its amazing colours, depth and sparkle.

Since I began my glass fusing journey back in Spring 2010, I’ve been developing my own unique designs by experimenting and seeing what turns out and then if I’m happy with what I’ve created I turn it into glass jewellery.

Part of my design process is to make pieces of glass that I would like to wear, so in essence, I’m being my own muse and creating jewellery that is to my own taste. As I’m experimenting and developing my own unique glass designs, I’m also creating something that’s a bit different.

my test piece and first venus glass design, that’s part of my own jewellery collection

“I love the vibrant colour, luminescence and sparkle that can be achieved working with glass and my aim is to create unique jewellery pieces that are beautiful, individual and comfortable to wear.”

The beauty of it is that as I continue on my glass fusing journey, my skills, knowledge and design range grows and evolves.

Thanks for joining me on my creative journey, more to follow…
Sam Rowena, jewellery artist x

My Glass Fusing Journey 2

Glass is entrancing and enticing… The lure of the beauty of glass, with its amazing colours, depth and sparkle.

In the Spring of 2012, I was in a bit of a rut with my glass making, after getting disheartened that many of my experiments over the past 2 years – trying to combine wire with glass – were not working out.

Sometimes the wire had reacted with the glass and it turned bright red with a fuzzy halo around it (not great!) or the wire hangers which were supposed to be outside the glass got submerged inside it. The wire was sandwiched in the middle of the assembled glass pieces, which meant it wasn’t very secure and often moved during its journey to Christine’s kiln (the organiser of the ceramic artist’s group), plus it had uneven kiln firing problems. Anyhow, this ALL resulted in a very low success rate.

If I was to continue with my glass fusing I decided I would have to get my own kiln.

Initially, I looked into getting a general multi-purpose digital kiln, one that could be used for everything, including ceramic painting and glass fusing, although the cost of the kilns new were around £800 (or more), nearly-new second-hand ones seemed to come up quite often on eBay for around £350-500.

hobby artist general kiln
example of a top-loading multi-use kiln

This hobby kiln is for sale (June 2016) at

“I’m glad I waited and did some further research on the different types of digital kilns”

My kiln research included chatting with other glass artists I knew about their kilns and visiting a local lamp-work glass artist to see the 3 kilns she had. This was a great help, as one of her kilns was specifically for glass fusing and was flatter, than the deeper style multi-function kilns and I could see it would be a lot easier to load up and use. She also recommended the English kiln manufacturer Kilncare for their kilns and after-care service.  Following this, I spoke to glass artist Julie Langan at Cedar Farm – whilst I was there teaching a bebeady jewellery making class – and she also spoke highly of the kilns by Kilncare that she used.

The problem was that the cheapest Kilncare kiln was well over £1,000 and my budget was to spend a maximum of £750 on a new kiln, or less if I could find a  good second hand one on eBay…

I’d begun researching and watching the ‘digital glass kilns’ that came up on eBay and had decided that if I hadn’t found one by Christmas, I’d get myself a new kiln, the Skutt Firebox glass kiln which was priced around my budget.

Over the months that followed only a few glass kilns came up on eBay and most weren’t that much cheaper than buying a brand new one or were located at the other end of the Country.

I lost out on a Stutt kiln that I was bidding on, as it went at the last minute to the ‘buy it now’ price.

Better was to come later that year. I couldn’t believe it when my dream Kilncare kiln came up on eBay – it was the first time I’d seen one in my year of looking – during my lunch break in the cafe at Barton Grange Garden Centre whilst I was there stewarding an Art and Craft Guild of Lancashire exhibition. With my heart in my mouth, I pressed the ‘buy it now’ for way more than my kiln budget and spent the rest of the afternoon at the exhibition, wondering if I had done the right thing!

A week later, after arranging to pick up and pay for the kiln, I headed on a 2-hour drive down to Stoke for it.  The lady selling her kiln was giving up glass fusing and it came with glass, cutters, some moulds and many other bits and pieces. It wouldn’t all fit in my small car, so I had another journey back down to Stoke the following week for the stand and the rest of the things.

Wow, I was over the moon, I’d finally got my dream kiln!

glass fusing kiln
glass fusing

I was quite scared to use it at first… but it came with programmed settings and a logbook, so I put a few pieces in, started writing notes and my experimenting journey began.

Thanks for joining me on my creative journey, more to follow…
Sam Rowena, jewellery artist x

My Glass Fusing Journey 1

Glass is entrancing and enticing… The lure of the beauty of glass, with its amazing colours, depth and sparkle.

I’ve long been attracted to the lustre and beauty of glass and crystal beads, learning about and collecting them to use in my jewellery making. From vintage hand-cut crystal beads, machine cut Swarovski crystal beads, pressed glass bohemian glass beads and Japanese seed beads, to gorgeous handmade lampwork and Murano glass beads.

“When I first came across Dichroic fused glass jewellery at a craft fair in the late 1990’s I was amazed by its beautiful sparkle and vibrant colours.”

At the time, there didn’t seem to be any opportunities to learn how to do it (glass fusing) in Lancashire, plus I was engrossed with learning about beads and developing my jewellery making skills. I think it was around 10 years ago when people started teaching the glass fusing classes here. They were so expensive and the cost of it put me off, but I still hankered to have ‘a go’ and luckily in 2010 a friend told me about a kiln/ceramic art group in Southport and I went along with her.

and that’s when my foray into the world of glass fusing began…

The group initially had weekly morning ceramic painting meetings in a church community room with additional day-long seminars every month or so.  The group organiser, Christine fired the ceramic paintings in her kiln each meeting. As glass is fused in a kiln, it was also something they covered in the group and I was able to gain the basics of glass fusing and have the opportunity to learn by experimenting and seeing how being fused in the kiln transformed my pieces of assembled glass. (I also enjoyed the ceramic painting I did at the meetings and seminars, I’ll write more about that in a later blog post).

jewelart early glass experiments
2 glass pieces before and after being in the kiln

This is an early ‘before’ and ‘after’ glass experiment with wire, these were 2 of the ones that turned out OK!

My glass fusing pieces were very ‘hit and miss’, firstly they were mostly new experiments, they also had to survive being moved by car and then loaded into a kiln, and finally the ceramic kilns are big top-loader kilns with varying ‘hot and cold’ spots and unfortunately it resulted in mixed success.

I knew that if I wanted to take my glass fusing further I really needed to get my own kiln.

Thanks for joining me on my creative journey, more to follow…
Sam Rowena, jewellery artist

Glastonbury Tor gonging 2

an inspiring and special place – 2- gonging at the Tor

I was lucky to meet Norah and Odette at St Michaels Tower at Glastonbury Tor and thank them for giving me the opportunity to participate in their gonging at such a special place and also for sharing info about sound/gong healing and their own journeys with me in this blog…

Sound Healing
: “In the beginning they say there was sound, the word “OM” Sound Healing is the sound of creativity itself, using sacred sound frequencies and Schumann resonance’s to help heal, clear, shift and balance whatever is going on in someone’s life!

The Gong: The Gong used on the Tor is very unique, this gong was a one-off ( it’s tuned to a specific note G2 but has many different tones when you play it ). The wonderful musician Tim Wheater got it from Don Conreaux who had had a hand in making it. My friend Kay Kraty bought it from Tim in early 2014  and that year it was played by the wonderful Gong Master Don Conreaux at Gaunts House, it is called a Maitreya Tai Loi, it was then passed to the wonderfully talented musician Tim Wheater, who passed it on to my wonderful friend Kay Kraty. It was then passed to me as the new custodian to share its magic with whoever wants to let the vibrational feed their soul.

Norah’s story: I have been working in the healing profession for 20 years but it was only when I received a sound healing treatment with Tibetan bowls, drums, and chimes that I felt true release and acceptance relating to some stuff that was long suppressed in my bodies cells, I realized then how powerful sound was and went on to do a sound diploma and gong master training and further research into sound.  I now run my own sound healing practice and also teach sound workshops. My favourite work is in the special needs environment where you seem to be able to get through to children and adults without a word. It’s amazing.

is a Gong Master, Reiki Master, and Spiritual Healer. She’s been working with Energy Healing for many years.  Sound has become an important addition to her healing work, In the summer of 2015, she furthered her gong training and trained as a Gong Master. Her teachers include Grand Gong Master Don Conreaux, the creator of the Gong Bath.


Glastonbury Tor

Sam Rowena:
I’ve always found that listening to music with my eyes closed takes it to another level and that certain sounds/music help you into a different state of being. I came across Leonard Cohen’s music about 20 years ago and regularly listen to his music, as I love his voice, its timbre, and the beat and find that some of his songs help me to relax and meditate.

On this holiday, visiting Stonehenge, Salisbury, Stanton Drew, Cheddar, Glastonbury, and Wells, I met many interesting people, and a theme that seemed to crop up was; places with amazing sounds, sound healing and the name Michael. Maybe, as part of my journey, I am meant to discover more about sound healing. I certainly never expected to be doing my blog posts on sound healing and gonging at Glastonbury Tor, but it was such an amazing experience that I was blessed to be a part of there, that I decided to share it further.

More blog posts to come on the history of Glastonbury Tor, its energies, and the white well…

I would love it if you want to comment and share your own experiences of sound healing and Glastonbury Tor.
Sam Rowena x

Glastonbury Tor gonging 1

an inspiring and special place – 1- sound healing at the Tor

Glastonbury Tor has a special energy, you need to go and visit it and sit there for a while taking in its vibration. Like me, you might experience a feeling of lightness, calmness, and joy or its energy vibrations might awaken other feelings in you.

Glastonbury Tor
The path up Glastonbury Tor

My first visit
I got to visit Glastonbury Tor for the first time a few years ago on my way back North after meeting up with a German friend and her family on holiday in Devon. It was a beautiful August day and I was lucky to find some musicians in St Michaels Tower playing the didgeridoo (an Australian aboriginal instrument) and I sat in the Tower for a short while experiencing the amazing sound as it reverberated, before sitting on the grass outside and enjoying just being there with the energy of the Tor.   Since then its been drawing me back and I try to travel down South and visit Glastonbury Tor at least once a year.

My recent visit October 2015
This time, again I was lucky and had an amazing chance encounter with sound healers gonging inside St Michaels Tower. The sound of the gong echoes and vibrates inside the tower and it’s really beautiful to experience. After sitting there, listening and watching for a few minutes, I was invited to take part.

Glastonbury Tor
gonging inside St Michaels Tower

I stood in the middle of the Tower and the gong was played whilst being moved around me. I enjoyed its sound vibrations, but apart from a feeling of peace and lightness, I wasn’t aware of any other changes, so I was quite surprised to watch it in their video afterward… wow!

Afterward, I chatted to Norah and Odette and then enjoyed some Indian Summer sunshine whilst sitting in a sheltered nook outside the Tower, before walking down to the White Well and having another unique experience… to follow in one of my next blog posts. 

Glastonbury Tor
Indian Summer at Glastonbury Tor

Since these special and healing experiences, a pain in my chest/ribcage that I’d suffered from for a while has disappeared.

I thank Norah and Odette for giving me the opportunity to participate and also sharing info about sound/gong healing and their own journeys with me in my next blog… Glastonbury Tor gonging 2

I would love it if you want to comment and share your own experiences of sound healing and Glastonbury Tor.
Sam Rowena x