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A catch up with Helen Welch

Helen from London School of Furniture Making discusses how she and her business have been affected by COVID.

2 min read

We first met Helen back in 2019 and chatted about how she got started in furniture making and running her own school. You can find that full interview here.

We recently caught up with Helen again to see how she’s been getting on since we last spoke and to see how she’s dealt with the coronavirus pandemic both personally and professionally. 

Up until the onset of lockdown 1 last March, the London School of Furniture Making was seeing a steady increase in customer numbers and Helen was growing the school with a look of taking on even more customers. But, like the rest of us, a sudden national lockdown saw a pause put on life in general and for a school that delivered hands-on creative classes that meant closing altogether for a few months. 

Helen, like a lot of business owners, looked at taking things online and running virtual classes, but with specific equipment and skills that can only be learned in the workroom, this wasn’t a viable option.

With the end of lockdown 1, things looked hopeful and she ran quite a few classes towards the end of summer 2020 as well as extending her teaching space to allow for social distancing, but this was again brought to a halt once Lockdown 2 was announced in November. 

This didn’t dampen her spirits and she began to look at ways that would get the school out of lockdown and back to a point where they could make some money. By putting herself on furlough and having a supportive landlord, the school has luckily not come across too much hardship or had to face the hard decision of closing. 

Customers that have come looking for classes have, instead of not booking, given deposits and payment for classes that can take place once creative workshops can run safely again. This has been a real lifeline for Helen and shows the importance of supporting small businesses and the huge change a small purchase can have. 

One of the plus sides to all of this for Helen, however, has been the time she now has to crack on with some passion projects she's been putting off.

She sent us some of these which you can see below. 

Solid Silver Plane

Solid Silver Plane

More Monopoly piece than a usable plane. I love the idea of something normally rendered in wood recreated in silver. It has no practical use other than to put a smile on my face.

Dovetail Saw

Dovetail Saw

This little saw with a brass back and English boxwood handle fits my hand perfectly. A truly bespoke saw that is beautiful and cuts like a champ.

Paperweight - Brazilian rosewood with mother of pearl and abalone

Paperweight - Brazilian rosewood with mother of pearl and abalone

I have a stash of old/rare/exotic timber but the sizes are quite small, so I decided to channel my inner Suda Kenji - Living National Treasure of Japan - and make this mini standing stone/paperweight.

Helen said that it’s been great to work on these projects over the last 6 weeks and also just leave the place a mess and not have to worry about it! 

If you’d like to find out more about Helen and the London School of Furniture Making, you can find them via their website or over on Instagram.

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