Since publishing this article, Jenny has emigrated to Australia! So, a little bit of lovely as we knew it in Saltash is no more, but you can follow all her latest adventures as she sets up and continues a little bit of lovely in Queensland (see facebook link below).
This article remains in the archives to show her story so far and so that any inspirational local artists and crafters can see what we do and hopefully get in touch with the Tamar Valley Vibe!
Upon entering the Saltash studio of A Little Bit Of Lovely, a sign resting on a fabulously decorated chair reads,“This is our happy place”. You may not see it at first because there are so many pieces of eye-catching arts and crafts on display but don’t worry, you’ll soon get the message just by being there.
“The sign says it all, I want people to come here, say, ‘wow!’ and leave with a big smile on their face” says founder and proprietor Jenny Newcombe, whose business name was borne out of the desire to give a little bit of lovely to all who visit and experience her work.
A visit here is indeed an experience, for the studio radiates a positive energy and feel good factor.
Jenny’s great passion is glass art work and design. Bespoke, one-off, pieces are crafted by cutting every piece of glass by hand. Each piece is then layered giving organic movement and originality before being fired in a specially designed kiln to fuse the final design.
Jenny often undertakes commissions to commemorate special occasions for customers far and wide. However, she also runs classes and the experiences of her students are almost as inspiring as the lady herself. During my visit I met Fiona who explained to me how she finds the classes incredibly relaxing. This enables her to be creative and always results in a lovely piece of artwork to come away with.
Creating the right environment for creativity is clearly very important to Jenny who explains, “There’s no pressure on anyone who comes here. Often we’re chatting, working around each other and taking our time designing”. Indeed no charge is made for time in the studio, the only price charged is for the item made.
This is a telling insight into Jenny’s approach. She wholeheartedly believes everyone can be creative and the only question is how best to bring it out of them. Taking the pressure off and creating a sense of freedom for people to express themselves is key
She shows me some pieces recently designed by students with autism. They are amazing and a testament not only to the welcoming and empowering environment of the studio, but also the importance of art and creativity for good health and wellbeing.
Next up, Jenny shows me one of her pieces fresh from the kiln featuring sailing boats on iridescent seas. She is absolutely buzzing with excitement and it’s impossible not to be enthused by her or captivated by the artwork. It’s also incredible to think she never draws her designs in advance, they are visualised in her mind and created from that alone.
My particular favourites, from a choice of many, were the nod to Cornwall courtesy of the glass work tin mines.
So where do these ideas come from and how did it all become a little bit of lovely ? Jenny says, “I always knew that at some point my love of art and colour would become a design orientated shop”.
This held true even throughout the twenty-six years she enjoyed teaching early years and art. The sudden and unexpected passing away of her mother led her to reflect on the brevity of life and was the inspiration that compelled her to take action.
Jenny self taught working with glass as her medium. Starting in 2016 from a community pop-up store in Saltash, she moved to the studio in Gilston Road a year later. There was no funding and like many taking the plunge to pursue a lifestyle business Jenny had to face some frightening uncertainties and immerse herself wholeheartedly in the venture.
She innovated by helping others. Local artists and crafters were, and still are, welcomed to display items for sale at the studio. No commission is charged, only a nominal weekly fee is payable. This helps Jenny to cover some of the bills for the studio whilst helping others starting out by giving them a presence and affordable point of sale. She also works incredibly hard, frequently twelve to thirteen hours a day often seven days a week.
Yet clearly there are no regrets, “I lost Mum so very suddenly. I realised life is too short and the art and design I had inside me needed to come out. Gardens and daisies are my signature, they feature prominently in my work and this inspiration comes from Mum’s passing. It comes from the heart, she would have been so very proud”.
The creativity and unstoppable energy show no sign of abating. Jenny is presently enjoying a two month sabbatical in Australia with even more inspiration and creative ideas flowing! A loyal following of supporters and fellow crafters are staffing the studio in the meantime.
When she returns I have no doubt she will be straight back into the twelve hours a day, seven days a week routine, such is the hard work and passion not only for her business but also encouraging and supporting more local artists and crafters through the studio. She tells me, “I do try to have a day off but am always on the go. I don’t like to be bored”.
I tell her she can’t possibly have time to be bored and she smiles. There’s the thing, Jenny is always smiling and I suspect you will be too when you experience a little bit of lovely for yourself.
For more details and enquiries about classes, sales and commissions, the best source of information and means of contact is the A Little Bit Of Lovely Facebook page.
Browsers and callers to the studio are made very welcome but please keep in mind Jenny often exhibits at other locations including the Tavistock Pannier Market, so advance checking of studio opening hours through the facebook page is highly advisable.
Artists & Crafters who would like to exhibit and sell from the studio are also invited to make contact. We hope to feature some of them on The Tamar Valley Vibe soon.