Hello 2021

So Long 2020 and Hello 2021!

2020 was a year like no other! All sorts of unfamiliar words crept into common usage – tiers, pandemic, furlough, to name but a few. Personally, the words challenging, scary and bloody awful are the ones I would use to describe 2020. 

I am definitely a glass half full sort of girl and found lots of positives in Lockdown.  For a start, my workshop got a major tidy up.  There’s an impressive new filing system for my fabrics, categorised by colour, type and size – with a reference catalogue! (Get me!) The infamous wailing cupboard was also put to rights. You know the one you open and wail Ooooh Nooooh as all the contents make a spontaneous bid for freedom.

Like a lot of other small businesses I had to radically re-think my business in early 2020.  Within a week I went from a full order book with a 10 week waiting list, to nearly every job being cancelled.  I didn’t take it personally.  It was super scary at the time and in the overall scheme of things, having a chair re-upholstered was not all that important. 

So I donned my big positive pants and thought what else can I do?   I decided that this bloody pandemic had given me something I had always craved – the gift of time!  Honestly, I rarely sit still. I am constantly on the go and at last I had oodles of time to work on my own special projects, to indulge those creative ideas and just ‘do my stuff’!

2020 timescale

So, I actually enjoyed the first lockdown. I had time to work on my re-brand, launch a new website, do more marketing, find new sales channels – hello to The British Craft House. I designed some very special pieces using those old frames that had been hanging around my workshop for years patiently waiting to be transformed.

Despite scarily losing most of my core business in March, during 2020 I have actually managed to sell over 25 pieces of my very own work, which is rather amazing.   As one door closes …

My business has survived and evolved and so have I. I now have more confidence in my own designs and skills – I pushed myself with some of my designs but thoroughly enjoyed every single one of them. So without further ado here are the fruits of my labour.

In reverse order, with dramatic, elongated pauses like they use on TV to whip you up in to a frenzy of expectation – here are my Top Five Favourites!

Number 5: Georgian Armchair Upholstered in Designer Peacock Velvet

Georgian carver chair

Often, less is more.  I loved the classically elegant shape of this chair with its hooped back and delicately carved details.  No improvements required, I decided to let the fabric be the star of the show. 

This gorgeous designer velvet has a dark green background featuring a handsome peacock motif nestling against a lush botanical themed backdrop.  Stunning pops of colour ~ deep purple rose hips; electric blue and green butterflies contrast against white Japanese anemones. Truly stunning.

Number 4: The Forbidden Forest Chair

Bespoke upholstery

I have blogged about the inspiration for this chair here.  I absolutely loved working on this chair and I let my imagination run riot. (Not that it needs much encouragement).

Winter’s coming …

Silver birch trees with stunning ghost like bark.  The silk full moon shines down on the scene.  Mr Hare gazes up at the moon. 

Silk leaves in shades of autumn float down and mingle with snowflakes.  A tiny mouse shivers and watches the leaves fall. 

A bear blunders out of the trees and blows a snowflake off his nose. A spider weaves his magical silvery web. What a truly unique and magical chair.

Number 3: The Ugly Duckling Chair 

Some people have all the luck.  One of my lovely clients called me to say that her neighbours had moved to The Shetland Isles and left this chair at the end of the drive as they didn’t have the time to take it to the tip.  She emailed me some photos and asked if I could do something with it. Ooh I do love a challenge!

That’s not red leather by the way, its cheap nasty vinyl. Unfortunately The woodwork was sadly marked.  The chair smelled and one arm was broken.  The seat was rather lumpy in places due to the springs trying to escape.  But I could tell it had ‘good bones’.

Tim (my glamorous assistant, AKA Tim the Stripper) worked his magic on the woodwork using my Dad’s secret recipe to clean up the woodwork, restoring it back to a deep mahogany colour with a gorgeous patina.  He repaired the arm and together we managed to supress the rioting seat springs.

Contemporary Fabric on an Antique Chair …. Really?

I was praying the client wasn’t going to ask me to re upholster this lovely chair in some ‘griege’ linen.  (Griege as in you can’t tell if it’s grey or beige).  Thankfully she chose a gorgeous navy blue and white geometric print – bang on trend.

Ta Dah!

No longer an ugly duckling! This fabric gives a whole new lease of life to the chair and the result is both unique and stunning.  I am sure you can appreciate why this one definitely had to have a place in my Top 5.

Number 2:  The Peacock Fabric Rocking Chair

Victorian Rocking Chair Stunning Peacock Designer Fabric

One of my best ever Facebook Marketplace finds!  The person who sold me this lovely Victorian rocking chair told me came from a large farmhouse just outside Lincoln.

Tim stripped down all the existing upholstery as it was filthy dirty and smelly.  He then cleaned up the dirty old woodwork to reveal the beautiful patina of quality mahogany. 

The quality of workmanship that has gone into the making of this this chair is truly exceptional.  All the joints are beautifully handmade and skill that has gone into the making of the rockers to give it perfect balance and a deep, rolling rock is just amazing. They don’t make them like this anymore!

The chair was snapped up within days of being listed in my Etsy shop and I received no end of enquiries about it even after it had sold.  I reckon I could have sold it 5 times over.  I know I say it all the time – every chair I make is a one-off, utterly unique, I never, ever repeat a design.  So to use the old cliché you snooze, you lose!

Number 1:  The Hare on a Prayer Chair

Hare on a Chair
Unique moon gazing hare design

Finally!  Big drum roll ….

This is definitely the most popular chair of 2020.  It got so much love via social media and sold to a lovely lady in North Yorkshire who has now become a friend and helps me with some embroidery work.  Bonus!

Every chair that I work on has a story to tell and this one has a very interesting one.  You can read it here. 

A simple design results in a totally original piece of furniture.  Definitely my favourite lockdown project – it’s everything that I believe in.  Sad old furniture doesn’t need to go to the tip, a little bit of creative TLC and you can have something that is beautiful, sustainable, unique and lasting.  These are my watchwords.

Here’s hoping to a brighter, better 2021.  As I write this Blog, it seems that we will be in some form of lockdown for the next couple of months at least so maybe I will have more time to do more of my stuff.  Watch this space!

A Great Big Thank You!

I just wanted to close by saying a huge thank you to all my friends, followers and family for all the love and support you have given me during 2020. Every single like, comment, heart, review and especially the orders has meant so much to me. They have stopped me from feeling dismal at times and kept me going. Thank you!

Stay safe and well everyone and see you on the other side.

Ella Jenkins Design
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