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MY STORY

 

  ROCWORX Designer-maker Rachel O'Connell hand stitching marbled leather in her studio   

RACHEL O'CONNELL

Hello. I am the designer-maker at ROCWORX®. I am a marbling artist, with over 30 years of experience marbling and I trained in leatherwork about 15 years ago.  I began marbling in my teens and have since worked with artists all over the world, learning my craft in a creative environment. I started marbling on leather over a decade ago. I work with sustainable natural materials and repurposed synthetic textiles, some of which are donated by local and national organisations, such as the Royal Opera House and Surf School.

I have a background in, and love for, textile art, sewing and printing, all of which influence my designs.  I have worked in interior design and hospitality. Crafting traditionally, is a slower process, with much of my items made to order. Occasionally I will produce a limited batch run and offer these products online as ready to ship.  
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Why I started my brand...

I started my brand ROCWORX® a few years after being assaulted at work. This attack completely changed my life, as, apart from the shock of a physical assault, it effected where, how and who I worked with.  
 
Part of my healing journey was art therapy.  A chance to be creative in a safe space and a return to marbling, after over a year of not being able to create, poor sleep, multiple panic attacks, nightmares and anxiety. Even after one session, my sleeping improved, I was dreaming in colour and even seeing marbling patterns.  It changed my life, bringing me joy, easing anxiety and helped my healing process.  
When marbling, you learn that you cannot always control the outcome, nor make the same pattern twice, only a similar pattern, as the paints will move over the water. The breathwork involved is mindful, helping focus the mind.  The colour lifts the spirit and I found the creative release of marbling has allowed me to let go and heal from my trauma.  
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Starting ROCWORX® was the best decision I ever made...

Deciding to turn professional to design and make marbling goods for a living has brought me incredible joy and taken me down a path I only dreamed of in my previous career.  I quietly launched my brand during the pandemic and a gentle creative journey began.  

Since launching my brand, I have been fortunate to have sold work in local and national galleries, such as Manchester Art Gallery, Dulwich Picture Gallery and MAKE Southwest in Devon, as well as in local independent retailers and in National Museum shops. I also demonstrate and sell work in Weald and Downland Living Museum and at Craft Festival, Bovey Tracey, London Craft Week and Handmade Oxford.  I have had the joy of demonstrating my endangered craft in 2023 on behalf of Heritage Crafts.

I am a member of Heritage Crafts, MAKE Southwest, Design Nation, Leather UK, Society of Bookbinders and Blue Patch.  As a sustainable artist, I am also a member of the Green Maker's Initiative with Make Southwest. 

 

My journey has also taken me down the path of teaching...

In the past few years it has been my privilege to have tutored workshops with ALevel students, children in SEND schools, in local primary schools, community group and for MAKE Southwest’s Saturday National Club supported by Arts Council funding, a chance to tutor teenagers who wish to pursue art as a career. I have privately also tutored trauma survivors too, helping them in their healing journey.

Marbling is a beautiful, mindful craft. My workshops offer a safe space to create, play with colour, make mistakes and learn through failing, but most importantly, have FUN! Even after over 30 years of marbling, mistakes happen and when a new beautiful pattern appears as a result, I like to call it a happy accident.  I am always learning.

Marbling is classed as an endangered heritage craft.  My hope is to show that this heritage craft can be used in contemporary design.  My aim is to create beautiful, practical products to wear and use every day in the home and also help educate, with the goal to pass on this beautiful craft to future generations. 

I marble using traditional Turkish, European and Japanese techniques, incorporating marbling into my textile items, including leather, as well as my printmaking art work and paper stationery. 

I work with leather as it is a sustainable material, a by-product of the food industry and is compostable.  It is a beautiful, yet robust, practical material.  Each hide is unique in character, often with marks and tonal colourations, each one always different to the next.  It ages over time, its patina deepening, the leather becoming softer, moulding to the wearer and to its use.  I work with leather for its durability as, when cared for, it can last a lifetime and be passed on to future generations.

All items made, can be repaired, or repurposed, before finally being composted back to the soil or recycled.  If you want to know more about the leather or marbling process, I've popped a bit more information in my LEATHER + LEATHER CARE  and  MARBLING pages.

 

 

 

In memory of our first dog, Amber the Sprollie.  
Forever remembered, playing with a ball at Burgh Island, Bigbury-on-Sea, South Devon

 

 

Thank you for visiting my store and following my creative journey. 

ROC ♥︎