Tag Archives: art and craft events

musings about the elfin alchemy pop-up exhibition in October 2021

The Pendle Heritage centre is such a fantastic place to spend some time, and be enveloped in all its magic and mysteries… The ancient stone barn is set in a beautiful location, nestled next to Heritage centre, across the cobbles from it and the parkland in Barrowford, surrounded by picturesque Lancashire countryside in the borough of Pendle witch country.

I felt very lucky to finally be able to hold my elfin alchemy pop-up exhibition at the Pendle Heritage centre during the October half-term and Halloween in 2021. It’d been a longer wait than planned… as I’d originally booked it for October 2020, back in 2019, but due to Covid and lockdowns it was postponed to the following June. (you can read more about it in my last blog posts). 


Guest artists

It had been my wish to share the space at my elfin alchemy pop-up exhibition with guest artists, and be able to give them the opportunity to display their work and meet a different audience. But, I was glad I’d decided to wait and see how my first pop-up exhibition in June went, as it gave me the chance to figure out if I could fit an artist in the space downstairs. I knew there’d be room for at least 2 artists upstairs (as Covid was still around I limited it to just the 1 artist upstairs).

After organising some studio group events a few years ago, I was aware of the work involved, so to make it easier for myself I was just inviting guest artists I already knew. Covid made it more difficult, as some of the artists I asked, weren’t able to do events because they or close family members were in the ‘at-risk category’, thankfully 2 artists were able to join me for the Halloween weekend.

“My pop-up exhibition theme with it being held at the Pendle Heritage centre was alchemy and anything related to myths, magic, woodland creatures, nature and fairy tales.”


Potter Barbara from Barbara Lea Pottery was downstairs with her magical ceramic fairy mushroom houses and textile artist Josephine from Phinefibre was upstairs with her colourful abstract fibre jewellery, cards, art and drum sticks.

It was lovely to be joined by these talented makers in the barn, but I felt under added pressure, as I really wanted the weekend be worthwhile for them…

Phew, I felt so relieved that we were quite busy with visitors all weekend!

To fit in my guest artists, the downstairs room needed rearranging. Normally I was sat making next to my main display, blocking the stairs. I moved my small making / packing table away from my display next to the entrance, but this didn’t work out as well for me as I wasn’t sat next to my display and couldn’t  chat with visitors when they’re looking at my displays and able give them more info about my pieces.


The barn is what you’d call quirky, the downstairs room is kind of an awkward shape that doesn’t really lend itself for fitting in 6ft tables, although a table fits into the back of the room, I used this as an info and leaflet table, and moved them when my guest artist Barbara was in that space.

There needs to be a display table in the alcove next to the stairs, so people can see it when they are walking past the entrance and going into the Heritage centre. But, if you sit one side of the display table you’re blocking the stairs, and if you sit the other side of it, you’re blocking the way, with the room being at its narrowest there (it would originally have been 2 rooms). Next time I’m going to try moving my display table sideways and see if I can squeeze into the alcove with it and hopefully that’ll work better.

Apart from these niggles, it’s an amazing space with lovely energy, there’s big windows in the entrance section that let in lots of light, which is the other reason I was sat blocking the stairs, as it’s got the best light for making, allowing visitors to watch me working and chat with me about my creations.


Upstairs, is even lovelier, with a great view of the Heritage centre, cobbled courtyard area and parkland beyond and sense of space with its high ceiling.  

If all goes well, I hope to return for another elfin alchemy pop-up exhibition there in October 2022, with guest artists joining me at both weekends and short 20-minute recycled jewellery making tasters on the Monday-Wednesday of the half-term week.

In my next blog post, you can read about my fascinating flower design journey of discovery.

There is magic all around us…

Thanks for joining me on my creative journey, wishing you sparkles of light. Sam Rowena, elfin alchemy, Lancashire jewellery artist 

elfin alchemy pop-up exhibition October 2021

The Pendle Heritage Centre is such a magical place for my elfin alchemy pop-up exhibition, I’m so looking forward to being there this October half-term. Its the perfect venue to visit for a day out, especially if its raining, you can spend some time learning about local history and the Pendle witches in the museum, find something lovely in the gift shop, have a coffee or eat lunch in the cafe overlooking the walled garden, then come by and visit me in the barn:
Saturday 23rd to Sunday 31st October 2021, 11-4pm


Originally, I’d booked the barn in 2019 for the October half-term in 2020, but because of Covid it was postponed twice, thankfully it was able to go ahead in June 2021.

It was really lovely to be back doing an event after such a long time… sharing what I make with others really helped boost my self-confidence, and when some days were quieter I was happy to just be there in this beautiful place and sat making  jewellery.


Many of the visitors that popped in to take a look loved my creations, treated themselves or got presents for loved ones. Wow, some of my glass pendants were even heading to Australia!

I’ve shared a bit of my background story about my elfin alchemy pop-up exhibition at the Pendle Heritage Centre in my last blog post I wrote in the Spring.

Actually, there’s a number of reasons behind me being there…

It all began with me visiting the Pendle Heritage Centre in October 2019 with some extra jewellery pieces for my display in the gift shop in time for the Christmas shopping season and I saw that an artist was exhibiting his work in the barn. I thought I could do that, why don’t I do it and see how it goes? Whilst I was there, I mentioned that I’d be interested in doing it, and then ended up booking it for the following October…


Really what prompted me to go for it, was the lack of good art and craft events in Lancashire, they are like gold dust and then there’s the problem of being accepted for a stall, as there’s an over-abundance of jewellery and glass makers.

Although 2019 had been quite a good year for me, I’d been teaching back down in London, and at a few 1-1 bespoke workshops, plus I’d taken part in some good events over the Spring and Summer. Then in the Autumn, when my applications for a number of events hadn’t been successful, it knocked my self-confidence and belief in what I make. Lots of things were going on in my head, I wondered if I should continue on my creative journey when the path seemed so difficult.

“I decided not to ‘give up’ as I felt that sure that other opportunities would appear!”

I decided to try and see it as a positive, maybe this rejection of my work and not getting into these events was actually helping me move in the direction I was supposed to go.  It gave me the push that I needed, to go outside of my comfort zone. and it spurred me on to book my first pop-up exhibition at the Pendle Heritage Centre. It also pushed me to try other things too… as it was around this time that I first heard about Barrica in the Park and emailed them about getting involved. 

My other reason behind me wanting to do my elfin alchemy pop-up exhibition is related to my health.

Doing events on my own is quite physically demanding and as I get older, I don’t have the same amount of energy that I used to have. The early start, the drive, moving boxes, setting up and taking down the display and the long day, means I’m totally shattered afterwards… and that’s only a small part of the work, there’s all the preparation that goes into it beforehand. 

“In my head I believe I’m still young, but my body tells me otherwise”

I do enjoy the buzz of doing events, meeting and chatting with people about my makes, getting feedback on new work, finding customers that love and want to wear my creations, as well as the social side of getting the opportunity to catch up with other makers. But I’m having to be realistic and going forward, needing to be more selective of the events I choose to do and not do as many.

The beauty of my pop-up exhibitions, is that I only need to set up my displays once and then they’re up for the duration of my exhibition.  Although it initially involves a lot of extra preparation creating new displays, once they’re made, they can be used again at my next pop-up exhibitions.

Another positive is having the exhibition space to create displays so that I can share the story behind some of my makes, you can learn about how my daisy flower design is linked to witchcraft and how my fascination with the ancient spiral design led me on an amazing journey.



“What’s best is I can make the most of being in a beautiful barn, where I’m able to sit making and chatting to visitors about my work and its inspiration, any sales are an added bonus!”   

Knowing how difficult it is to find good events, I also want to give a couple of local artists and makers that I’ve met at events (whose work is also related to witches, fairies, woodland creatures or spirituality), the opportunity to join me as a guest artist for 2 days at my pop-up exhibition. Sadly due to the ongoing Corona virus situation, a few of the artists and makers I invited, said they would have loved to be guest artists, but were unable to join me this time due to them – or close family – being in the ‘at risk group’, and are hoping to be able to come next year. 

I’m really happy to share that over the Halloween weekend – 30th and 31st October 2021 – I’m being joined by 2 local artists. Upstairs in the barn is a textile artist Phinefibre who creates magical felt work and downstairs with me is a ceramic artist Barbara Lee Pottery who creates the most enchanting fairy houses. 

For more info about the venue, visit the Pendle Heritage Centre website

“I hope you’ll get chance to come and visit my elfin alchemy pop-up exhibition in the barn at the Pendle Heritage Centre!”

Thanks for joining me on my creative journey, wishing you sparkles of light. Sam Rowena, elfin alchemy, Lancashire jewellery artist 

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 Saturday – a mix of rain, snow, sleet, and hail – thankfully it improved and we had some sunshine on 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 with some amazing displays… So, with this in mind, I’ve been revamping and de-cluttering my display, as I wanted to make room for some new glass designs.

It’s 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.

I 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.

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

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

more info: 
Lytham Hall, Lytham, Lancashire
Hopeful and Glorious, art and craft fairs in Lancashire

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

Brantwood Winter Fair 2016

What a gorgeous location it has on the bank of Lake Coniston in Cumbria.  Brantwood, the former home of artist/writer john Ruskin is a real treat of an event and I’m thankful to have had the opportunity to be part of its Annual Winter Craft Fair for a number of years.

Its a stunning location set on the side of Lake Coniston and a lovely venue with super arts and crafts, but its a pretty long journey from Lancashire, heading off really early in the morning before the event starts and coming back home at the end of the weekend along small country lanes in the dark, so just in case it’s my last time for a while, I brought my camera along to capture some of its beauty.

A few photos of its stunning setting on the Lake and its ever-changing gorgeous Lakeland views as well as a photo of one of the wirework button brooches I created during the event whilst sitting at my stall.

Luckily, my artist friend, Sally Anne has moved up to the Lakes and invited me to stay,  it was a big help and great to be able to have a good catch up, plus interesting chats with her mum about fairies, fairytale books, and the artists.

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

why I do events

Why bother doing art and craft events? What motivates us – the artists and makers – to do them? 

I think its much more interesting to purchase something handmade and be able to chat with the maker, instead of purchasing something mass-produced from the high street or on the internet. At events, you get to see my work displayed, chat with me about particular pieces that you like, and find out more about them. It makes it a much more personal purchase.

“I enjoy chatting to people about what I do and taking part in art and craft events.”

Winter Arts Market, St Georges Hall
Winter Arts Market at St Georges Hall, Liverpool

Although the main motivation for taking part in events, is for the opportunity to promote, display, and sell my work, there are other reasons too…

Like most designer-makers, my work is quite insular, so an event is a great opportunity to meet and chat with people, both customers, and other artists/crafters. Over the years, it’s been lovely that a number of friendships have blossomed out of chatting with my neighbouring stallholders at events. If I get a chance, I also enjoy taking a quick look around the art and craft stalls, to see who’s there are and say hello.  I love seeing how everyone displays their work, the innovative and creative ways of using their limited space.

One of the things I don’t do is ‘sell’. I don’t like pushy salespeople and think there is nothing worse than people being hassled to buy something when they are just having a day out and enjoying looking around an art and craft fair.  So, my work has to sell itself and I just help it out.

“Its really a great confidence booster, when people like my work and compliment it, and even better when they like it enough to purchase it!”

beaded wirework brooch
one of my beaded brooches made at my Easter event

I prefer to be busy at an event, so if an event has quiet spells, I’ll do some making, either my abstract beaded wire brooches (as they are easy to ‘pick up and put down’) or wirework shapes. I’m happy then as I get in my own creative zone and time flies. Plus it has other advantages too, as visitors are usually intrigued with what I’m making, and its a good way of starting conversations.

At some events, I only have a 6ft table and my making tends to be more hidden from view, but at other events, such as the ‘Art in the Pen’, ‘Handmade in Lancashire and at my jewelart pop-up events I have a bigger area and my making becomes part of the display.

jewelart at art in the pen
my making/leaflets table at Art in the Pen

Occasionally I take part in charity fundraisers, so my being there is also helping out a good cause.

A highlight for me is that I get to visit and enjoy the atmosphere of some amazing venues. These range from gorgeous gardens to interesting buildings rich in histories, such as St Georges Hall in Liverpool and Lytham Hall in Lancashire. There is a lovely buzz about these places when they are filled with amazing arts and crafts and the hubbub of people chatting, admiring the stalls, and making purchases.

Thanks for joining me on my creative journey, come along and visit me at one my events,
Sam Rowena, jewellery artist x

taking part in art and craft events

After all the preparation work is done and you’ve been successful and got a stall at some art and craft events you’ve applied for, then the real work begins… It’s not just about ‘the making’, there’s sorting out your stall display, designing and getting business cards/leaflets printed, buying your packaging etc.

On the day of the event, once you’ve arrived and found where your stall is, there’s the unloading and moving everything, before setting up your stall display.

St Georges Hall Winter Arts Market
at the Winter Arts Market St Georges Hall, Liverpool

“Ideally, if I’ve got time before the event opens to the public, I like to take a quick look around the venue and see who’s there and say hello to the other stallholders that I know, but sometimes it has to wait until quiet spells later on in the day.”

Art and Craft events are very ‘hit and miss’. There are many factors outside of your control…

  • The weather
    Outdoor events are often a wash-out if its bad weather, raining and windy, not to mention the potential to damage your art and craft. But equally, in the summertime, if its lovely weather, people don’t want to be indoors visiting an event.
  • Footfall
    If its a new event in a venue that doesn’t have a good footfall, it can often take a while for it to get established and attract visitors.
  • Too many similar types of stalls
    Some events aren’t selective, they just want to fill the stalls. It’s better for an event to have a good variety of different work, to attract visitors to the event.
    “This happens all the time to me – with jewellery – and although its usually all different work, there are only so many people that are going to buy jewellery at an event.” 
  • Hobby-makers and bought-in work
    This makes it really difficult for the artists and designer-makers who are trying to make a living from their art/craft as you can’t compete price-wise with the hobby-makers or work that’s been mass-produced in other countries.
    “I now mostly try to take part in art/craft events where there’s been a selection process involved.”
  • Stall location
    If your stall is in a corner or your neighbouring stall has a card spinner or clothes rail in the space between the stalls, your stall can easily get blocked by people looking at their stall.
    “This is really frustrating and has happened to me at events many times. I usually give it a few minutes grace, and then if my stall is still being blocked I go out and ask them to move so that I can get to my stall display and tidy it up.”
  • The time of year
    The run-up to Christmas is the best time of year, as many visitors are buying Christmas presents. At other times of the year, it depends on whether visitors have a reason to buy ie. birthday presents or see something they like and either want to treat themselves or are with someone else that wants to treat them.

Liverpool One Arts Market
rainy and windy day at the Liverpool One Arts Market

When an event doesn’t work out, it’s hard not to take it personally and think that people don’t like what you make.

Figure out why your work hasn’t sold at that particular event and if it’s one or more of the above factors, or if there might be things you can improve upon, ie. your display, range of pricing, negativity etc. You can use each event as a marketing opportunity to see what does sell, what are visitors interested in, what comments and feedback you get and use it to give out your leaflets and business cards. A visitor who is interested in your work, might not be ready to buy at this event, but might come to another event later on and buy from you then.

Its all part of the learning curve, you have to try out different events to find the ones that are right for your work.

If it’s not busy, it’s nice to get to know the artists, designer-makers and craftspeople on your neighbouring stalls, see what they make, chat about events, marketing etc and help each other out if you need to leave your stalls.

“Over the years, I’ve tried out many different types of events and some just don’t work for me… these include family fun days, school fairs and vintage (with a bit of handmade) events, so I leave these events for others to do.

“I hope this information is both interesting and helpful for other artists, designer-makers and craftspeople doing events and visitors to the events.”

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

The path of Creativity

What drives us, as artists, designer-makers and crafters to follow this path of creativity and what do we enjoy about it?

I think this is a topic of interest to everyone, but its something I find especially intriguing, as my family aren’t creative or much interested in art and don’t quite understand ‘why I do what I do’, so I’ve posed the questions to myself and fellow artists/crafters taking part in our Handmade in Lancashire this Easter at Barton Grange Garden Centre.

Why do you do what you do?
hat do you enjoy about it?
“Since I was little, I’ve always enjoyed being arty and creative, and over the years I’ve explored a whole range of different arts and crafts; from theatrical stage make-up for school plays as a teenager, learning graphic design, digital photography and silversmithing at college (and working in design), painting on silk, ceramics and watercolours, to creating fused glass and jewellery making. Over time you discover which things you excel at and enjoy doing the most.
jewelart venus copper fused glass designs“Although, the creative path is definitely not the easiest way to earn a living, its very rewarding in many other ways. Every day is different – you become the designer, maker, photographer, promoter, seller and the list goes on – the actual making is just a small part of it. My favourite part is the feeling of achievement you get when you make a piece of jewellery or glass and other people love it too, want to buy it and wear it. I feel so honoured when I see people wearing one of my pieces and returning to buy more.”
Sam Rowena, Jewellery artistwww.jewelart.co.uk

quirky and fun artwork by Lily BattesonI do what I do because I enjoy it and I can get lost in the challenge of seeing the blank canvas develop. I enjoy watching my initial idea evolve, and how the colours merge to create the finished picture.”
Lily Batteson – www.lilybatteson.com

“After being made redundant from my dental job in February 2013 I decided to start up my own business combining all of the skills learned as a Dental Technician with my Artistic abilities and I’ve been making a living as a Glass Engraver for the past two years… after all Teeth are made of Glass!
I enjoy the challenges of creating bespoke pieces… every day is different. I also love to meet people so networking is a big part of my business and it has replaced something that I miss now that I work alone, which is meeting people and working with others.”
Alexis, Walking on Glasswww.walkingonglass.co.uk

“I first started sewing, aged 8, making dolls clothes and progressed through my teenage years onto making my own clothes (not always successfully!) However, bags are far more forgiving than clothes as one size fits all.”
Zylpha, Zed Bags

You can meet and chat to us, see a selection of our work and take the opportunity to buy direct from us and the other Lancashire makers taking part in the Handmade in Lancashire at Barton Grange Garden Centre, Easter Friday and Saturday.
Later this spring I will be doing some follow-up post on the creative path,
Sam Rowena, jewellery artist x

preparation for events

A lot of work goes into taking part in art and craft events and it begins months before the actual event.  You wouldn’t believe how organised we have to be, and it isn’t something that normally springs to mind when you think of artists and craftspeople, as we tend to have a reputation of ‘having our heads in the clouds’!

Its planning, researching, organising and completing the applications and then once you’ve been selected for the event, paying for them.

This is how my year starts…

The first few months each year, I start to plan my year ahead. It involves creating a calendar planner, listing all the weekends from Easter to Xmas and pencilling in potential events, teaching dates, holidays, etc.

I begin with a review of the events I’ve done the previous year; looking at which ones worked, which didn’t, which are borderline because they might have been affected by the weather or had other problems and I might give them another go.  This is followed by researching other events as potential ones to apply to and then listing them all on my weekend planner. Sometimes popular weekends might have a clash of multiple events and I have to make a decision of which event might work best for me.

Before I can start applying for events, I choose a selection of photos, from photographs I’ve taken during the previous months/year and I update my 100-word artist statement and artist CV.  For some events you only need to send this information once, others you need to complete application forms and send it every time, alongside proof of your public liability insurance and sometimes a Risk Assessment as well.

a jewelart spiral beaded brooch
one of my jewelert photos for applying to events in 2016

Application deadlines vary from event to event, some might have deadlines 6-9 months before the event, others maybe 3 months. After applying, then it’s waiting to see if you’ve got in, then it’s sorting out paying for them.

April/May and September/October I try and keep one or two weekends available for teaching classes and pencil in potential dates on my calendar.

By now my planner is starting to fill up, so I have to make sure I put weekends off and holidays down on it too… otherwise you find your actually going to be working every weekend!

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