Introducing Aunt Bea

We tackled a big, new challenge this summer!

I get lots of inquiries about video content, from folks who can’t physically get to our classes, and even from folks who do. It’s a deliciously convenient and visual medium – I get that. Unfortunately, I knew almost nothing about creating or posting video content, and nobody was showing up to say, “HEY!!! Want to make an online class???!!!”

Okay that’s not entirely true – I was SUPER lucky a couple years ago to get just such a call from Craftsy about opening their upholstery category. It was a ridiculous fun. If you want to see what a professionally produced video course looks like,  HERE’S A LINK TO CHECK IT OUT.  If you want to see what two boneheads with an iPhone can accomplish in 4 months, read on.

So there’s a lovely little, “Getting Started” course on Craftsy, and I think it’s a pretty great (if I do say so myself!) But so many of you are itching to tackle more challenging projects.

In the spring we started noodling the possibility of making a little something on our own. Could we do it? Would it suck? Would it destroy the hard drive on my laptop??? (Answers: yes, maybe, probably)

19143068_1318363924950870_1549616509275464756_o

I think the universe liked the idea, because a couple of fun things intersected to urge the idea along.

  1. My teenager showed me how to create a YouTube channel. Woo hoo!
  2. Amy Otteson showed up in our Tuesday group. She happens to be a retired art teacher with a lot of experience in iMovie and YouTube. And she’s quite interested in upholstery education . . . Hey Amy… hey Amy… hey Amy . . . .
  3. The Professional Upholstery Association of Minnesota, excited about new opportunities for education in our area, was looking for ways to support our efforts (I love you guys)
  4. I stumbled across a chair at the thrift store. We call her Aunt Bea.

Okay, let me tell you about Aunt Bea. I spotted her in the back room at our local Savers. Some of you are suckers for fancy old antiques and some of you like high design. Personally, I like sturdy and comfy. The kind of chair you can love to death. The kind that’s good for reading books and drinking coffee. I don’t usually get sucked into adopting orphans (or not anymore. My attic is full)  I don’t have room or time or resources for all of the furniture being abandoned, so sad, so sad! Instead, I focus my energy on encouraging folks to reupholster instead of replace. I teach, so more people can adopt pieces. And I gently but firmly decline most offers of donated furniture.

BUT OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH little gems like Aunt Bea, they get me – nobody was looking so I went into the back room and poked around. Small. Coil Sprung. Good brand. And UGLY FABRIC. Nobody was going to adopt this homely diamond in the rough!!!!!!!! NOBODY!!!!!!!!!!! But HEY!!!!!! Maybe if I had a REASON to drag it away. . . . LIKE A VIDEO TUTORIAL!!!!!!

Yes, yes, YES!!!!!! In addition all her other fabulousness, Aunt Bea was actually quite SIMPLE. Quite STANDARD. A GREAT candidate for showing skills and techniques. There was a lot we could cover on this little chair that people could take away to projects of their own.

WELL. I guess I’d better buy it, then. HEY!!! HEEEEYYYY!!!!!!! CAN SOMEONE PLEASE TAKE MY FIVE DOLLARS!!!!!!!!!! (You heard right. Five. Dollars)

18077133_1261755440611719_4883703905456606767_o

A few interesting notes:

  • I was pretty convinced that Aunt Bea would fit into the front seat of my Elantra. WRONG. But me and the Savers guy sure tried.
  • When I came back with a friend to collect Aunt Bea, they had her by the dumpster for collection. Apparently, the employee who said I could pick up in a couple days was new and confused. 12 hours later and Aunt Bea would have been a memory, not a YouTube star.
  • The name Aunt Bea came from a Facebook survey on The Funky Little Chair. We often name our more involved projects, because it’s nice to have a reference instead of saying, “The chair, the chair, the chair.” It also gives us a hashtag, making it easier for people to search and find later!! There were so many different ideas, it was fun to read! But when I read Aunt Bea, it felt just right: Old fashioned, comfortable, practical. . . . perfect. (I can’t find that post!!!! Are you the person who named her???? Please message me so I can credit your awesomeness!!)

We had a chair. Now, we needed a plan.

17992177_10211487737662123_6397632528685688160_n

  •  I talked to Amy Otteson: Could she, would she, help over the summer???? There was so much to learn!!! TEACH ME, OH WISE ONE!!!!! Can you believe she said YES?????? What a sucker. . .  I mean, what a WONDERFUL person!!!!!!  I thought this project would take us about 4 weeks. HAHAHAHAHAHA. Sigh, It’s been 3 months. We’re still working on it. We haven’t edited the cushion segments and we haven’t even started the outside of the frame. I know Amy knew I was completely unrealistic. But to her credit, she didn’t squelch my enthusiasm. She just kept helping. Hopefully, we can keep ahead of our posting schedule to make this a weekly segment. Wish us luck!!!!!!!
  • Then I talked to the PUAM. This was our summer project, would they provide a modest sponsorship? This organization is filled with supportive friends and mentors, but I didn’t know if a YouTube project would interest them – they’re pretty old school, one of the reasons I love them. But I explained that YouTube is the second biggest search engine in the world, and a frequent first stop for people interested in learning about upholstery. The PUAM is deeply invested in the future of our profession. In the past, they’ve been a resource for folks coming out of degree programs, or other traditional upholstery avenues. Now, however, we don’t have those avenues. I hypothesized  that most of our future professionals would begin as hobbyists – what other choice do they have?? YouTube would be the ideal platform for connecting with those hobbyists – at a much earlier point in their journey – so that when/if they become serious about upholstery, they might have some networking and support. I’ll definitely talk more about this organization later.
  • Next, I approached the owner of Fabric Supply in Minneapolis, my preferred wholesaler. What about them? Any interest? One of the challenges for hobbyists, especially when they want to start doing client work, is knowing how/where/why to source good quality materials. Here’s a hint: you don’t go to a big box fabric or craft store. I wasn’t comfortable asking for sponsorship and was fully prepared to get shot done. But they said yes! Enthusiastically!!! SCORE!!!! I look forward to sharing detailed info on our tools and supplies throughout the course of this project.
  • Lastly, I approached Greenhouse Fabrics, because I wanted to use a first quality textile. When you’re starting out, it makes sense to hunt out a bargain. But quality fabrics come with technical information and customer support that’s really important if you want to be a professional resource for your clients. My fabulous rep, Heidi, agreed to hook us up with fabric for Aunt Bea, woo hoo!!!! Watch for more information on the fabric we selected and why.

So we were officially ready to roll!!!!!!!

Let me tell you what you can expect:

  • A 12ish part YouTube tutorial released in weekly segments.
  • Content that’s geared towards the DIY market, but hopefully with an eye on professional resources and techniques. That means I’ll be using and talking about professional quality tools and materials, but anything that could be simplified WAS simplified. We eliminated the skirt and changed the cushion styles, for example (you’ll see)
  • Weekly blog posts that support whatever we’re covering. Perhaps a resource guide, or an educational supplement. Occasionally an op ed or a fun history tidbit.

What you MUSN’T expect:

  • A video resource covering everything you ever wanted to learn about upholstery. That would be crazy. I feel like part of being a good educator is deciding how much to throw on a student in a single serving. Yeah, there’s a lot more we could have said and shown and done. There’s ALWAYS more. That’s what makes upholstery awesome. But if you try and cover everything at once, you probably aren’t teaching – you’re overwhelming, and possibly showing off. So hopefully we provided lots of valuable tidbits and a good general overview. I hope you’re inspired to keep learning!
  • Beyond new cushion inserts, you mustn’t expect foundation work. I know, I know, I KNOW!!!!!!! It IS an important part of what we do. But see above note. And here’s the thing with spring and foundation work – it’s challenging and time consuming. When folks in my Craftsy class ask about springs, I tell them that if we HAD dug into the foundation, we would have run out of time for the fabric, Seriously. We could make a 12 part tutorial on JUST the foundation, no problem. And remember, this is targeted towards the DIY market, and I think looking at the fabric covering is an okay place to start. I love teaching springs and padding in person. Come see me for a class!!! Hopefully someday we’ll get video out there for these important topics, but Cynthia’s time is, tragically, finite, and I need to get back to work now.

Our goals:

  • Supplement our live classes with video content. When I teach in person, I try to let students DO. That’s what they are there for, after all! But when I was in Denver with Craftsy, I remembered how nice it is to teach by demonstration. We really do learn a lot by watching.
  • Reach a wider market via YouTube, encourage aspiring hobbyists to connect with quality educational resources. Be approachable.
  • Learn as much as possible about iMovie, YouTube and everything that comes with it. Good luck to us, yay!!!
  • Make it our own – there’s no sense pretending we had a big production budget and all the right equipment. We didn’t, and that’s okay.  So we had a little fun with it and tried to be ourselves. I think that’s usually a good plan anyway – let folks know what you’re about. You can’t be everyone’s cup of tea. I hope this gives you a sense of who we are and how we teach. If you like it, I hope you stick around or visit! But if you’re looking for a serious, structured, traditional upholstery education, I’m probably not your huckleberry – and I hope you find someone who is <3

So much more to say, but I think  let’s leave it here for now. Anyway, I hope you enjoy. I hope you learn. I hope you share. Next week, we’ll dive into Aunt Bea. Today, let’s talk about why I scooped her up in the first place. If there’s one thing that makes my little treasure hunting heart beat faster, it’s coil springs.

Wondering how to assess the situation for yourself? You’re in luck! Because now we have mad video skills ANDS access to cool vintage pieces! Hop over to YouTube to get some vintage shopping 411 – and remember to subscribe for all the fun to come!

Thrift shopping 101: Is this vintage sofa worth reupholstering? 

2 thoughts on “Introducing Aunt Bea

  1. Eileen Swalling says:

    Love it–I have watched the first few postings and they are fun and informative. I wish I still lived in SD (0kay not really) so I could zip over and take a class. Day dreaming about coming over from Washington State, but will keep watching for now.

    • thefunkylittlechair says:

      Looking forward to chatting with you, we would love to see you in St. Paul if it ever works for you to make the trip! And I’ve never been to Washington, hmmmmmmm 😉

Leave a Reply