Eleanor Lakelin, wood sculptor
‘I did a BA in Modern Languages and Linguistics at the University of East Anglia, which led to work in Europe and Africa. Later, I completed a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) at the Institute of Education in London, then spent almost 10 years teaching secondary-aged children.
In 1995, I did short courses in plastering and carpentry, which prompted a leap of faith – I retrained as a cabinet-maker, completing a City & Guilds Level 3 at City & Islington College and London Metropolitan University. I worked as a furniture designer-maker for 13 years and in 2008 attended a short course in wooden bowl-turning at West Dean College, which would change the direction of my professional life once again.
When I left school, options were few: the choice was to stay in my rural community or to leave. I never knew that making a living as I do now even existed as a possibility. It would take me another 30 years to find my way to a lathe, some carving tools and a means of self-expression that could also be a career.
There are fairly obvious routes through colleges that provide an amazing education, experience and network, but college is not the only way to have a career in craft. I think my experience shows that there are many roads that a person can take.’
Need some advice about the right path for you? Read the resources in the Crafts Council's Craft Careers section