In the ARC Airstream workshop today, Selena and Darren are keeping warm by working hard on several Airstream projects – here’s a couple of action shots! A lot of Airstreams have come in for a spruce up or a service before the summer holidays and festival season.
At age 12 I saw my first bow top caravan, and wished with all my heart that I lived in one. By 16 I had earned enough to buy an old shepherds hut and an old wooden farm cart on which to build a bow top. Having no idea exactly how I might do that, I found work at a local furniture making company where I served a five year apprenticeship learning how to design and make furniture and shop fittings, and keep the bookwork up to date. Although our workshop was in the west country we were often in London, fitting the Mulberry concession in Fortnum and Masons, and their then flagship store in Christopher’s Place, and building the most fabulous panelled room to showcase fine tapestries in Jermyn Street.
I then worked as a Journeyman carpenter both on building sites and in workshops throughout Somerset, and working to commission for clients designing and building their furniture and interiors. My designs had always been quite classical following accepted rules of furniture making until I took a year out to go to circus school. It made me realise that as long as it was still practical a piece of furniture could still be a flight of fancy, something different.
The spaces in which I found myself working became larger and larger, but my fascination still lay with what could be achieved in the small and tidy spaces of the last 100 years of caravans. They are often quirky or aspirational. There is something in the smallness of space that speaks volumes of the period they were made in. Now, finally, in the neat circularity of things I find myself working in these treasures of travelling spaces…and it’s great!
Selena has been working at American Retro Caravans since January
“I only came to help for a month as a stop-gap but I’m still here!”
Selena finds working for ARC very exciting because the work is so varied and she finds herself doing something different every day – from speaking to clients on the phone, preparing quotes, doing bookwork to fitting aluminium trim. She describes herself as a ‘general dogsbody’ – in a hectic position within the company but says it’s nice because it’s never dull.
“I’m not sure if the riveter is mightier than the biro, but last month I swapped office for workshop for the first time and thoroughly enjoyed a day on the tools….the following day….. I ached all over! ”
Originally trained as a furniture maker, Selena now spends 2 days a week in the workshop and really enjoys the work. She has been working with wood since she was sixteen and has also spent some time working as a postie and a year learning circus skills.
“That’s when I learned to juggle, which has come in really useful with multi-tasking in the ARC office”
Selena’s favourite bit of her job is working with the boys in the ARC workshop. Her original trade saw her working as part of a team on building sites and after taking time out to become a mum she really missed working with a gang of blokes.
“I really enjoy the camaraderie and I love learning new things – I learn something new every day.”
Favourite colour: Selena doesn’t have a particular favourite colour, she says it depends on the day – and she loves being upside down.