Have you ever wondered about changing direction? A new career, becoming a maker perhaps? Several of our studio members have done just that and will be sharing their stories with us.
First up is Jack Relton, a furniture maker based at Blackhorse Workshop. Jack started a successful online business with a friend in Sheffield selling bicycle lights before making a move to London five years ago to work as an Account Manager at a media agency. Moving into a new flat, he realised making his own furniture could be thrifty and fun.
Scouring the streets of Dalston for scrap wood, he soon became a dab hand with a shipping pallet. He bought himself a handsaw and a drill and got to work in the garden shed on his first piece, a dining table assembled from copper piping legs and pieces of pallet wood for the top. Commissions from friends came thick and fast and eventually led to his first big job for Crate Brewery in Hackney Wick where he was tasked with designing and building a set of bespoke tables and seating.
The garden shed was not going to cut it so following a recommendation from a friend, Jack came to Blackhorse where he has been based for the past three years, ‘I genuinely couldn’t have done this without Blackhorse Workshop’, he says. At the workshop, Jack developed his woodworking skills and learned how to weld with support from fellow members. Learning on the job has been a journey and at times a longer road was taken, but perseverance paid off. Crate were very happy with the job and inevitably this led to more work and the transition to less days in the office and more time at the Workshop. At this time Jack discovered marquetry, a technique that involves inlaying cut pieces of wood into geometric designs, and began creating a range of beautifully finished furniture. Several bespoke pieces later and Jack is going strong and has made furniture making a full time occupation.
When we asked for any tips, Jack advised that keeping up momentum is essential to developing your skills and sustaining motivation, putting in two to three days a week was important in the progression to professional maker. Jack continues to develop creatively, building unique pieces, and discovering new methods with marquetry and woodwork.
Any regrets? ‘I can honestly say that it is the best decision I’ve made in my life so far’.