My name is Sarah Szymczak. I'm a 28-year-old woman from Sydney, Australia. I am an artist, a nature lover, a terminal perfectionist, and I live with multiple chronic and debilitating medical conditions, the two biggest impacting being ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia. My incredible partner, Kieran, is my full-time carer and helps me through the difficult parts of my day, which sometimes includes dressing and bathing.
My jewellery work, which started as a hobby, has become a wonderful and liberating way for me to express my creativity and passion on a small scale. I'm able to focus on detail and the quality of my work, even when limited by my conditions, and have used it to bring a little bit of magic in to the mundane world. I have a preference for amethyst, opal and moonstone, raw and unusual stones, and love working in brass and silver. I take inspiration from a mix of folklore and fairy tales and the natural world around me, as well as a heavy influence from history and historical fashion trends.
Outside my jewellery work, I have a keen interest in any skill which requires my hands - proof the universe has a sense of humour. I'm a competent leather worker, seamstress, prop maker, wood worker and have dabbled in larger scales of metalwork, amongst other things. I take a semi-active role in the costuming, cosplay and LARP communities and am more often than not working on a commission to help bring someone's character to life. I do have projects of my own, though none of them are complete (isn't that the way it works?). I frequently take on commissions for complete or partial costume items, costume restoration and repair, prop making and creative consulting.
I am frequently engaged in projects with Black Dragon Bespoke making incredible, one-of-a-kind theatre props for LARP and cosplay, as well as my own commission work.
Before my illnesses stopped my participation, I spent most of my weekends involved with the Living History movement, learning how to joust, be a competent horseback archer and an accomplished swords-woman. My preference was Norman and Viking history, and knife fighting with a seax and hand axe. While my hobbies have needed to change to keep pace with my physical ability, my work still allows me to connect with those hobbies, albeit in a different way.
Founded in 2012, The Tattered Tower was a business spawned out of a mix of creative passion and necessity. I realised after several years of taking on various lines of work - everything from business management through to childhood disability care - that my illnesses would ultimately prevent me from taking on any kind of work in a mainstream workplace. It was then that I turned to the NEIS program and Ian Hawkins at the Parramatta branch of Sarina Russo, and with absolute patience and gentle guidance from my incredible mentor, I was able to start my own business.
While it was far from an immediate income, it gave me a sense of accomplishment and independence that I was struggling to find between the unreliability of my conditions and the inflexibility of the standard workplace. I realised very quickly that I was doing something I dearly loved; the next step was just getting someone to pay for it!
I started taking part in markets and grand events, travelling across the mountains to attend events like Ironfest and the Winter Magic Parade as both an independent retailer and as part of a greater interest community. I was regularly involved in the Leura Markets for about a year and a half, have appeared at various events like Fantasyfest, the Glebe Markets and a handful of others. Right now, I am more regularly involved with my local lapidary clubs and can be found at occasional events.
Amazing photograph provided by Apoapsis Photography of my LARP character, Bronwyn.