GLASS ARTIST: Kristy Lowe with some of her glass creations, which include everything from native birds to boho lampshades and kitschy caravans.

MAKING time to do something you love is a great contributor to mental wellness says Edgecumbe-based naturopath and glass artist Kristy Lowe.

Life-changing events that created difficult years for Kristy resulted in a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder that she continues to deal with today. She says it is her art, side-lined for a long period, that is helping her on her journey to wellness.

Kristy has been a glass artist for nearly 20 years. Her love of the art was inspired by a coloured glass fairy. Trained in the Tiffany method – a technique involving the soldering of lead and tin over copper to join shaped pieces of coloured glass – she had been producing elaborately designed lampshades, wall hangings and other items for much of the past two decades.

“I’ve always been creative,” she says. “Even as a child I was forever drawing or painting or making things. I’ve always been crafty.” But when Kristy became pregnant following IVF treatment, she set her glasswork aside.

Wanting to provide the healthiest environment for her baby, she choose to take no risks with any potential soldering fumes. What Kristy didn’t realise at that stage is that it would be a long time until she picked up her glasswork again.

In what she refers to as a “mismanaged labour,” Kristy and husband Shane’s son, Elijah, was born two-and-a-half-years-ago, amidst a flurry of panic.

Airlifted to hospital, he would spend three weeks in intensive care, and has been left facing a lifetime of impaired vision. “He suffered brain damage during the delivery, affecting the part of his brain that processes his vision.”

Kristy and Shane have recently had an ACC claim approved for Elijah, and further findings from investigations into Elijah’s birth are still being processed.

Complicating things further, Kristy, Shane and baby Elijah had been in their newly purchased Edgecumbe home just seven months when the flood hit. The family evacuated, but the nearly two-metre-high water that flowed through the house meant it would be more than a year until they returned.

“It’s been an emotionally challenging time,” Kristy says, though a recent return to her art has left her grateful for the positive results it is bringing her. Not only in the beautiful pieces she creates, but in the clear benefits she says it brings to her emotional and mental health.

“It’s just once a week,” she says. “I set aside that time and just focus on my art. It’s so healing. It’s like a meditation for me in that I’m not thinking about anything else during that time. I’m in a calm place. I’m just focussing on what I’m doing.”

Kristy has also become involved with art and craft collective Simply Handmade, helping to run the shop in front of the Red Barn where her glasswork is now sold. “They’re such a wonderfully creative and supportive group of women and being involved with them has been a great motivator for me.”

“I’d like to think that reading this might inspire others to pursue activities they enjoy to support their mental health too. It might be cooking or gardening, sewing, carving, or just reading or walking on the beach. I’m just saying that making time to do what you enjoy is an important part of any healing process. It’s an important part of happiness.”

“For me, making that time to do something for myself, to do something I love, is a saviour.

It makes a big difference.”

By Lorraine Wilson