Meet the Maker:Rowena Sheen, Jewellery maker
Rowena designs and makes contemporary jewellery using native Irish wood, sterling silver, and Burren wildflower beeswax. She has a strong appreciation for craft, heritage and the natural world and this informs her current practice in which the use of natural, locally sourced materials is of the utmost importance.
Visually, Rowena draws upon the complexities of the organic geometry that underlies so much of our natural world, developing lightweight, wearable forms that move with the human body. Beginning with locally gathered tree trunks, the wood is left to dry naturally over many years before individual shapes can be laser cut, hand refined, ebonised and assembled using sterling silver findings.
What’s a typical day in the studio like for you?
I usually get to the studio around midday or a little after, and begin by tidying up whatever mess I made the night before. Then it’s on to emails and preparing any orders that came in over night, and any other admin that needs to be done.
Beyond that, my days are quite varied. I tend to focus on one task at a time over a few days or weeks, so I could spend a week working on a new piece, designing, sampling, figuring out the technical aspects and then making it, or I might spend a week making a batch of 20 pairs of earrings or pendants. I am currently long overdue a website overhaul so that will be a week or two of photographing the new pieces that I am currently working on, editing and uploading them, and generally giving the website a refresh.
I usually go home for an early dinner around 4 or 5pm and then back to the studio ’til probably 8 or 9, or sometimes I’ll stay there working into the small hours. Depending on how busy things are I will work anywhere from 20 to 60 hours in the studio per week. Christmas and summer are busy! Spring and autumn are a little calmer and I will be in the studio less.
What do you like most about your work?
The flexibility of being my own boss and the variety that comes with being a one person operation. I really love working with my hands, mastering various tools and materials to produce beautiful things, and probably the most rewarding part is meeting my wonderful customers, as well as lots of other makers, when I get out to markets and fairs.
The craft community in Ireland are so supportive and the majority of people are more than willing to share their knowledge and advice with those just starting out.
What do you like least about your work?
What’s your favourite craft item in your home?
What other maker in your discipline do you most look up to?
How do you start your day?
What’s the first thing you do when you leave the studio?