A window to new opportunities

Words and photo by Tristan Ovington.

Working with glass represented a way out of a stressful career in education for Helen Southwell, founder and owner of The Glass Room.
“I was a teacher for 20 years and after that I worked in school improvement and ended up being head of school improvement for South Wiltshire. I was highly stressed in this role and I was doing glass as a hobby at the time.
“My mother had Alzheimers and often became a risk to herself in the middle of the night and when my husband suggested I retired early, in 2021, I agreed and have never looked back since.”
So how did it all begin? “I began to sell on Etsy and became part of Plain Arts Salisbury,” explains Helen. “I’ve exhibited in Gallery 4 in the Salisbury Library, at Langford Lakes, and at a pop up exhibition in one of the empty units in The Guild.
“Glass skills came after I moved to our current house in 2000 because it had a beautiful stained glass front door surround but the actual door contained plain glass.
“I immediately wanted to replace the plain glass window to match the stained glass surround so I learnt how to do it myself and it all progressed from there.
“I am most proud of my larger projects in schools. For St Paul’s 50th anniversary, 50 children made fused glass fish which had the appearance of swimming around a skylight.
“And at St Martins 70th anniversary, everyone including staff, the governor and every child made a fused glass tile which were all combined into a large window in their reception area. When the sun shines through it looks stunning and it’s something everyone in the school can be proud of.

For those considering starting a small business but unsure where to start, Helen has some advice. “Set yourself smart, achievable targets to propel yourself constantly forward. Get friends and family involved and generate an online presence as soon as possible.
“Don’t sit and wait for it to happen for you, act now to realise your dreams.”

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