Category Archives: news

a downside of working with glass

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

I don’t even know how I did it?

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

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

Not good. At first, I tried applying an antiseptic cream, then some essential oils (lavender, tea tree, and vitamin E) and bathing my hand in warm water with Himalayan salt as recommended after googling it. But after a few days – my symptoms were getting worse and my fingernail started turning black – I decided I needed to go to A and E to get it checked out by a doctor. Thankfully after a week on penicillin, I and my fingertip slowly began to recover…

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

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

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

Wishing you sparkles of light!

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

eyesight is precious

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

jewelart pop-up events

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Thanks for joining me on my creative journey,
Sam Rowena, jewellery artist 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 just see what happens…

Teaching
At the end of 2016, I decided I wasn’t enjoying all the work involved with organising my classes, I’d been teaching jewellery making classes for around 13 years and wanted to be put more energy and time into my own jewellery making.  I thought that these Spring 2017 classes would be my last ones. But, I’m actually still teaching, slightly differently now though, as I’m teaching bespoke 1-1 and small group taster workshops instead of organising and teaching classes.

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 and have been really thankful for it.

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.

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

adversity 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

So glad it’s now 2018 and the light of Spring brings renewed hope for better times ahead.

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

self belief

At times over the past few years my self-belief in my chosen path – of being an artisan designer-maker – has wavered when health problems, difficult times and adversity seem to litter the way, but hope, belief, and a love of being creative helps to keep me strong.

Luckily, I do believe that if our journey is too easy, we don’t always appreciate the good times when everything just seems to click into place and works out how we want it to.

Good times are all the sweeter when you’ve had to work hard to achieve your goals and overcome obstacles along the way!

This year has just been a bit of a bummer though and I think it’s now time for my silver linings…

more in my next post,
thanks for joining me on my creative journey,
Sam Rowena, jewellery artist x

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 it’s 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 it’s 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 things its combined with; 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 a 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 and suffering from a bad back – so it’s been lovely to get back to my glasswork and experiment making some more heart pendants with my new dichroic glass. 

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.

Thanks for joining me on my creative journey,
Sam Rowena, jewellery artist 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 to 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 future 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 jewellery 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.

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…

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

Thanks for joining me on my creative journey,
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 with so many 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 through 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.  They were great learning experiences for me, sadly, there won’t be any more of our events at this venue, due to a big hike in the room hire costs.

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

jewelart popup 2016
jewelart pop-up 2016

Will see what 2017 brings… I’m hoping that the events I take part in will go well and there’ll be some more of my jewelart pop-up shops.

Thanks for joining me on my creative journey,
Sam Rowena 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…

“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 try 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 try including 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…”

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

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