What makes an heirloom chair an heirloom?

I have two rowdy boys at home (three, if you count my husband)

Occasionally, they get railroaded into delivering furniture, or making buttons or carrying home a freebie that mom spotted on the curb.

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But in general, upholstery is my thing, not theirs. They don’t care what color the sofa is, or whether it has coil springs. They stubbornly refuse to get excited about the 3# foam in our cushions (how can you NOT be excited about 3# foam????)

But recently, I noticed that my son had dragged a chair out of the attic (um, we all have have chairs in the attic . . . right??) and kind of made it his own.

Now let me tell you about this chair:

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This chair is the most unremarkable piece of furniture we own. It’s possibly the most unremarkable vintage chair in the world –  which is partly why I bought it.

This little skirted, attached cushion number is EVERYWHERE. I don’t know if they were breeding when people weren’t looking, or if you got one free with every marriage license in the 1960’s or WHAT but it seems like everyone owned some variation of this chair at some point.

So you see them all the time at garage sales and thrift stores and they tend not to get much love. So I bought it for two reasons:

  1. ‘Someday, I’m going to reupholster that, maybe change the back style, just to show consumers that ANYTHING can be updated, you just need a bit of imagination.’
  2. It was the last day of a rummage sale and this sad, lonely chair had been marked down to $2. I knew darn well that it had a 99.9% chance of ending up in a landfill if I didn’t adopt its ugly arse.  Every upholsterer must eventually learn that you cannot personally save all the furniture . . . but I was new in the trade, and didn’t (yet) have a house stuffed with projects.

So I dragged it home, stashed it, and forgot it. . .

. . . Until my giant teenage son dragged it out.

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Now this was very strange. It’s way too small for him. It didn’t have a cushion (who knows where THAT went??) so he used a random scrap of foam for the seat. And the very groovy orange velour was dirty and utterly threadbare.

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But HEY! Sometimes, love is blind.

So for whatever reason, he’s suddenly kind of sweet on this chair. And I’m kind of sweet on him being sweet on this chair.

I don’t know how other moms of teenagers feel, but I realize my days with Noah are slipping away. He’s racing towards adulthood, and all the adventures that begin at 18. And I’m super excited for him. Of course! But also . . .  I miss him already.

In the blink of an eye, you go from shoulder back rides in public to “can we just meet in the parking lot after the concert?” (I had the audacity to KNIT at his choir concert – OH MY GAWD parents are so embarrassing)

I showed both my sons a Facebook article stating that women need to be hugged daily for their health. Now, along with my morning allergy pill, I get a very obligatory “hug for my health”

Shameless, I know.

And this year’s been extra tough with my opening a new shop. The biggest sacrifice has undoubtedly been less time with my kids, time that is all too fleeting under the best of circumstances.

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So what can I say? I got kind of excited about a project with my teenage son.

“Noah,” I said. “Do you want to pick out fabric and we can reupholster that over the summer?”

“Yeah, that would be cool” (COOL!!!!)

Then he picked out a super soft, super green, super VELVET fabric from Barrow:

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I haaaaaate working with velvet. Hate, hate, hate. You can’t fold it. Can’t regulate it. You can’t steam or hammer the heck out of it (two things I rather enjoy doing.) It misbehaves terribly at the sewing machine. Basically, you can’t look at it wrong or say mean things to it without regretting your decision.

Velvet is a princess.

So I tried to talk Noah into something else, enticing him with photos of bold weaves or crazy geometrics. Nope!!!! He’d picked his pony.

Some clients just insist on being difficult.

Noah has torn back plenty of projects for me, so he had the chair apart in no time. After Steve Cone and I dragged it around to a couple upholstery masterclasses, we got to work!

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In addition to tearing back, Noah webbed and burlaped the frame, put in buttons, cleaned up the mess, and moved the chair whenever I needed it moved. Mostly, I worked on the chair, and he worked on other shop chores.

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You may be wondering why I didn’t painstakingly guide my teenager through doing this project for himself. Good question! Good reasons: 

  1.  Princess velvet. If he’d picked any of the fabrics MOM advocated for, he would have sewn welt cord and done some cutting, stapling, etc. But velvet is not a good learning fabric for a 15 year old student (or anyone in their right mind)
  2. Attached cushion??? Mitered nosing??? Curved T-cushion from scratch??? Tough project!!! I look forward to helping Noah upholster his first chair. But this ain’t it, kid, this ain’t it . . .
  3. Noah didn’t want to REUPHOLSTER A CHAIR he wanted A CHAIR REUPHOLSTERED. And would-be students take note: those are two VERY DIFFERENT THINGS. I like teaching students who come ready to learn. It’s awesome, and I think I’m pretty good at it! But making my kid learn something he’s not especially interested in learning? Ugh. We do that at home.  I’ll fight about math homework and how to load the dishwasher –  I don’t feel a pressing need to pick a fight about easement cuts.

And really, I was cool with it.  At 15, I had no interest in learning upholstery (or anything else, actually) from my mom. Maybe someday he’ll ask to learn . . . and maybe he won’t. When he’s ready, I’m ready.

In the meantime, it was a huge help to have him tear back my next client project and knock out a bunch of shop chores.

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It was a long, lovely day in St. Paul.

Noah gets dragged into helping with all kinds of things at the shop, and into more things at home BECAUSE of the shop – and he’s surprisingly good natured about most of it. He’s helped me make instructional videos, and create a YouTube Channel. He’s my number one go-to for getting something torn back quickly and properly. He does more housekeeping than me, keeps the lawn mowed, takes his little brother to the library, and helps out his grandparents and aunts. When I go for a run, he often greets me outside with a glass of water as I stagger home. I’ve never asked him to, he’s just nice. I didn’t mean to go Full Mom on the blog, but what can I say?  He’s a good kid: Funny, thoughtful, empathetic. He reminds me that teenagers can be really great.

Before Noah put on the burlap, we left a note inside the frame.

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I don’t know where this orphan came from, but I quite like the idea of Noah playing video games in some little old lady’s (now green) chair – bet she didn’t expect that!  I would never have chosen this chair for him – but to quote a book you should read:

“… isn’t it always the inappropriate thing, the thing that doesn’t quite work, that’s oddly the dearest?”

The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt

Who knows what will happen to this chair? I’d love to think that Noah will cherish it for decades, dragging it to his first apartment, fighting with his wife about whether it should stay or go . . . Very probably, he won’t – it might just have been a fun summer activity, and I’ll consider that  time well spent.

But maybe, just maybe, there will someday be bedtime stories in Grandpa Noah’s scruffy green chair.

An heirloom is defined as, “something valuable that is passed from generation to generation”  Furniture is usually considered valuable because it is old, rare, or exquisitely crafted. But what chair is more more valuable than one infused with memories?

Sometimes, the strangest things become heirlooms. Those are my favorite kind.

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And what about my other son? Did he feel left out? Well, as luck would have it, he’s laid claim to the little love seat we carried home last month – and if you thought green velvet was a wild selection, just wait until you see what Ian picked . . .

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But THAT is a blog post for another day . . . .

The velvet we used on Noah’s chair comes in a wonderful selection of colors – you can browse them all on Barrow’s website, or at the shop. (And if you want me to reupholster your chair with it, I promise to only say bad things about velvet in my head)

If Ian’s fabric is more your style you can see the full repeat online at Greenhouse Fabrics 

Self Employment: Year One

IN case you’ve just tuned in, I opened a business last year. It’s a little upholstery shop in St. Paul that focuses on education (though I also offer services)

In that year, I’ve tried to fill my online presence with confidence and optimism, with enthusiasm for the journey, and gratitude for the uncertain future.

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But if you know me in person, you know that reality was a lot more complicated.

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A high school friend once told a story about his childhood dog. They put in one of those invisible fences, and every day the dog would test it, just to see if it was still there. Then, one day, he got a running start and barreled through, full steam and howling, hellbent for freedom, whatever the cost.

That’s how this year has felt for me. For years, I’ve tested the boundary of self-employment, gauging the danger before stepping back into the familiar. Are all my fears still there? Yup. All the reasons not to leap?? Yup. Scary scary scary. Better hang out in the yard.

But MAN I could see the other side, and it looked pretty good.

So last spring, I finally put my head down, got a running start, and barreled forward, yowling and wide eyed, hoping like crazy I could make it to the other side.

Self-employment is not for the timid or meek. I knew that this year meant getting up every day and doing something scary, meeting someone new, solving a different problem. I knew that all the planning in the world wouldn’t fully prepare me for The Unexpected. I knew that once I started, I couldn’t easily change my mind. To stand any chance of success, I knew I needed to be as visible as possible . . . and that I might fail anyway – not in obscurity, but with everyone watching, everyone knowing I’d tried my hardest and come up short. Who wants to do that?????

Let me tell you a couple things about Cynthia.

#1. I hate 4 way stop signs. I mean HAAAAATE. Like, I can occasionally get myself worked up a full day in advance about having to go through one, and will find ridiculously convoluted ways to avoid them. Why? Because I DON’T TOTALLY KNOW what will happen when I get there. What if I’m turning left but the other driver doesn’t see my signal? What if we get there at the exact same time? What if I wait too long and the other driver gets annoyed at me? What if they run it? What if I think it’s my turn but they think it’s their turn??? Do you see how stupid this is? And I know it’s stupid, but the heart wants what it wants, and my heart wants to know EXACTLY WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN ALL THE TIME AND TO AVOID POTENTIALLY AWKWARD SITUATIONS LIKE THE PLAGUE.

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#2. I love pizza. Especially free pizza. But if someone says, “I’ll pay if you call it in” then there will be no pizza. Because Cynthia hates the phone. And Cynthia REALLY hates talking to strangers. What if they can’t understand me? What if they ask me a tricky pizza trivia question I can’t answer? What if I just burst into flames and die right here?

#3. I studied classical music in college. Want me to memorize 5 Italian arias, 3 German art songs and a French folk song? No prob, Bob. But do not DO NOT ask me to scat or improvise in any way. Seriously. Not one bloody measure or I’m going to change majors immediately. Show me exactly what I’m supposed to sing, when I’m supposed to sing it, and we’ll all get along just fine.

The point is this: Cynthia is not a risk taker. I like my comfort zone and my well-laid plans. I despise uncertainty. If you need me, I’ll be hiding in the corner, hoping to avoid all confrontation, embarrassment or unstructured human interaction. (People are scary)

That would be why I spent 15 years trying to achieve my goals from the shelter of other people’s businesses.

Not surprisingly, it didn’t work that well.

Eventually, I had decide: keep hoping my goals would come to me. . . or put on my big girl pants and go meet them.

You guys, I still don’t know what happened.

One day I was reading, “You are a Badass” and the next thing I know, I’m giving my notice and typing up a business plan.

And like the initial climb and inevitable fall of a roller coaster, I spent a fair amount of time wishing fervently for a way to abort mission. Most days, my inner voice sounded like Edvard Munch’s, “The Scream.”

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I always thought the right path feels intuitively, you know. . . RIGHT. But it’s hard to listen to your inner voice when your Fear of the Unknown is on full-volume banshee scream repeat.

But as the Anais Nin quote goes, ”

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom”

There simply came a day when I had to admit that I desperately wanted more.

Fortunately (or not) I’ve known enough self-employed people to know what I was in for. And I knew myself well enough to appreciate that this decision would stretch my absolute limits. I warned my husband that this year would be rough: for me,  for us, for our family. I repeatedly consoled myself: ‘It’s a two-year lease. Worst case scenario, you crash and burn for two years and then you quit.’ I battened down the hatches and dug in my heels.

This year took a super conscious effort, an act of will I hope never to repeat.

I called up SCORE and got a business mentor (she rocks)

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I read and listened to motivational and inspirational books.

I drowned myself (and everyone else) in motivational quotes.

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I listened to songs like, “Confident” and “Firework” and “Superwoman” at full volume on shameless repeat.

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You guys: I made a vision board.

I was seriously intolerable. Whether you care about upholstery or not, I talked your ear off. I exhausted my list of phone contacts, calling mentors in a panic when the shop was quiet. I constantly checked my bank account, doing the math on how many months until I was flat bust broke.

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One morning in September, when everything seemed to be breaking and the universe was almost certainly conspiring against me, I sat at a stoplight, gripping the steering wheel and screaming, “LISTEN UP UNIVERSE!!!!!! I’M NOT F@#&*NG AROUND HERE!!!!!!”

I’m sure I looked as crazy as I felt.

Then I stopped by Workhorse Coffee and bought a Pfeffer.  Congrats on surviving another day, scared out of your ever-loving mind. Yay!

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I never planned on owning a business. I’ve heard these wonderful stories about born entrepreneurs who always knew they wanted to own a business, even if they weren’t sure what that business might be. Maybe they own one business for awhile, and then go try some other completely unrelated business.

I’m sorry, WHAT??

I’ll tell you right now: If I close up shop at the end of my lease, I’m never owning a business again. I opened this business because I wanted THIS SPECIFIC BUSINESS to exist. And I wanted to work there.

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And even for this business, it’s been a stretch. This year, employment has been all-consuming.

I’ve been a mediocre wife, a disconnected mom.

I’ve been a terrible friend and a completely negligent housekeeper.

I stopped sleeping, threw up, and lost weight.  Then I stopped working out, started eating garbage and gained weight. Even when I DID make it out for a run, I spent most of the time mentally balancing the checkbook.

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I kept a stress journal and downloaded guided meditations to my phone.

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When my mom retired, I cried behind her shop, feeling scared and alone, ashamed that I’d put my family at financial risk by chasing such a foolish dream. . .

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Why am I sharing this?

Because I think transparency is gift that we give to each other.

It’s so easy to pop onto social media and think that everyone out there is braver and prettier and richer and happier than us. It can be so demoralizing. I think the truth is empowering.

I’m sharing this in case someone out there needs to read it.

In case someone out there is thinking they’re not brave enough or extroverted enough or smart enough. In case someone out there is scraping together enough courage to run at their own invisible fence, whatever that fence might be.

I want to tell you: You’re braver than you think. You can be scared and do something anyway. You can learn things, you can meet new people. You are who you choose to be.

Maybe I’m sharing this because I need to admit how scary this year has been. By business standards, the risk was tiny. By Cynthia standards, it was almost insurmountable. I ran through fire to get here.

And you know? I’m still standing.

Not just standing. DANCING. Because I’ll tell you, it’s pretty good on this side of the fence. My teeny, tiny business is doing okay! I’ve met all kinds of awesome people!! I no longer wake up in a panic (most nights) and I’ve started to run again, woo hoo! I’m restoring balance in my home life (though my house is still a mess).

Most importantly, I’ve learned that so many of my limiting beliefs were a mirage. I’ve cultivated strengths in myself that I never expected to possess. 

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I don’t know where this road will take me, but I like the view looking forward. . . And no matter what, I’m glad I started traveling this strange new path. It’s changed me and I like this Cynthia better. She’s still afraid, but her fear isn’t running the show. One day at a time, she’s struggling to be the person she really, wants to be. . . And she’s getting there.

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10 Tips for Perfect Double Welt

Don’t you just love double welt? Except when it turns out screwy, ARGH!!!!

When it comes to this delicious trim, there’s just no place to hide – luckily, with a few handy tricks up your sleeve, you won’t want to hide anything . . .

10 tips for perfect double welt:

#1. Cut your fabric strips on the bias (diagonal) to achieve maximum flexibility – especially if you’re trimming around curves! I like mine cut at a generous 4″, plenty to hang onto while I’m sewing.

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#2. Invest in a proper double-welt foot for your machine, and practice, practice, practice!

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Want to see how I sew double welt? Check out my video on YouTube (and don’t forget to subscribe!)

#3. Make sure you use a high-temp hot glue, not the lower temp version used for craft projects. Students are often dubious about the strength of hot glue, but I tell them it takes, “A conscious effort and a pair of pliers” to undo it.

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#4. Angle staples at about 45 degrees  – your double welt will only lay as smooth and even as the surface you’re gluing to. Angling our staples creates a nice even road , just the right width! And be extra tidy – double welt is only about 1/2″ wide, so hastily placed staples will almost certainly come back to haunt you. 

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#5. You do not need a folded edge under your double welt – the hot glue will lock up loose threads and prevent raveling. Struggling to fold the edge under usually means a sloppier overall product. There is plenty to worry about, so don’t stress over something that doesn’t matter anyway. 

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#6. The same goes for trimming your double welt – the glue will secure any cut threads, so it’s ALMOST impossible to trim too tightly. I trim with a scissors as closely as I can manage – If you don’t trim closely, you’ll struggle to get everything hidden under that itty bitty 1/2″ you have to work with.  

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(On the frame, I trim with a razor blade or very sharp utility knife. You just can’t get close enough with a scissors) 

#7. Keep a regulator handy – this is the flattened needle used to “regulate” cotton and hair in traditional upholstery. It makes a killer tool for smoothing down the stitch line while you glue, AND for tucking in the occasional bit of glue or thread that wants to sneak out. You don’t have much open time, so get your tools lined up before you start!

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(Confession: I hold the regulator in my mouth. It’s the only place I’m sure not to lose it, and there isn’t much time to tuck things in before the glue cools and sets.)

#8. Don’t stick  your fingers in the glue. Seriously. You won’t like it. 

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#9 Between cutting, sewing and applying, double welt is a pretty serious investment of time and patience. Looking for a faster option? Skip right to gluing with
pre-made gimp. It generally comes in two styles (scroll and French) and a generous variety of colors.

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#10. The margin of error is very small on double welt, and it is not agreeable to rework. It’s like watercolor painting, or caulking a seam – you kind of have to give it your best one shot and accept the results. So practice – you’ll (eventually) get a sense for how much glue you need, and how long you have to work with it. If you feel frazzled, put things away for another day – trust me, that’s good advice.

Cynthia 🙂

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“The Somewhat-Secret Upholstery Experiment.”

Last summer, I was in the throes of opening my own shop. I wanted to try something new. We decided to call it …  “Advanced Group.” . . .Or “Studio Share”. Or . . . “Tuesdays.”

Okay, I guess we never really settled on a name. Let’s just call it, “The Somewhat-Secret Upholstery Experiment.”

With the loss of degree programs,  people are bumping around, wondering how to “go pro” or “semi pro” or even “glorified hobbyist who really likes upholstery and wants to be good at it.”

I don’t know?? But surely we can figure it out.

So I reached out privately to a handful of current students – those who’d been hobbling together education for awhile, those who kept coming back. Instead of signing up to “take a class” here and there, I asked them to stay for 9 months.

Let’s take some of the time limits off the table and see where we can go together, I said. Let’s focus on building a “complete” skill set. Let’s network, and be loud on social media. Let’s throw ourselves into the universe and see what comes back.

There were no promises, no assurances of success. This was a leap of faith for everyone. I didn’t know if anyone would say yes.

To my great relief, a handful did.

So we created a skills list, and a contract. We negotiated pricing and terms, and met to discuss individual goals – how could I help? Where was everyone trying to go? We outlined parameters for the tricky business of sharing a space, eek!!!!

Then we opened 8 spots and dove in.

So what happened???

We had fun. We learned.  We hung out on Facebook, and met lots of cool neighbors (MidModMen, Workhorse Coffee, Arc Thrift Stylist, Ferrous Furnishings). We threw around ideas and made a few videos.   Some people came, some people went. Eventually, all the spots stayed full. By the time June rolled around, I must say, we had a seriously amazing mix of people  – hobbyists, pros, and a groovy handful in between.

Allow me to introduce you:

ANGELA is technically a hobbyist. She’s isn’t interested in a new career: She already has a really good one. She also has kids, a hubby, and a giant stash of cool, old furniture. For Angela, Tuesday nights were about fun – a chance to do something hands-on among creative adults. And, of course, they were a chance to fill her home with vintage furniture and serious bragging rights, oh yeah!  In eight months, Angela gutted and reupholstered two groovy wing chairs, six dining chairs, and most of a pretty little loveseat (her first attached cushion) In the fall, she’ll add a skirt 🙂

 

JACEY, the creative force behind, “The Old Man and the Settee,”  works primarily in wood, but he has a passion for restoration, design and all things furniture history. Since woodworkers often run into upholstery, Jacey took an interest in understanding upholstery better. He began as a Weekend Warrior and then then joined our advanced group, hooray! Over the course of several months, Jacey created his first set of boxed cushions (a midcentury must,) redesigned a gorgeous set of sling chairs, and reupholstered a vintage chair of sketchy origins – we re-patterned everything from scratch based on photos, since it had obviously been restyled at some point. There aren’t many folks who work well in wood AND fabric – it’s certainly looking like Jacey is one of them!

KARA, a CPA by profession and a woodworker by hobby, tackled a couple projects for friends, knocked out a few projects for her “new” midcentury home, and then went exploring, using her precise and creative mind to design a pair of biscuit tufted floor cushions with canvas and vinyl. They were truly awesome. Sewing and designing is not for the sloppy or impatient – everything must add up!!!! So perhaps it’s no surprise that our CPA/upholsterer honed in on the most tedious and particular of upholstery tasks: Where many get frustrated, Kara thrived. We need to get this girl into draperies! I wonder what she’s planning to create next??

NIKKI had already completed a few upholstery projects and taken a few classes – this year she focused on refinement of skills, and independence. She gutted and reupholstered a chair for herself, and also reupholstered her first client project – a super fun wing chair for a super funky nun! Somewhere in there, we all took a field trip to Pizza Flame to help Nikki and her family reupholster a section of booths for their family restaurant <3 Nikki also became a charter student member of the Professional Upholstery Association of Minnesota (there are exciting plans afoot!) Nikki is our shy student, we had a hard time talking her into photos, but eventually she agreed to one . . .

GINA has been sewing and upholstering for years – She used Tuesdays to tackle some brave new styles  – most notably, her first recliner, and a slipcover! I don’t actually teach slipcovers – for THAT project, Gina watched Kim Chagnon’s Craftsy class and then brought her iPad in to enjoy the perks and tools of a professional shop. This year was also about weighing opportunities – we discussed the pluses and minuses of upholstery as a hobby, selling on consignment, working in someone’s shop, or trying to secure your own clients . . . I won’t lie: Every option is challenging and messy (and potentially rewarding . . .) There are no simple answers, no standardized method for success. Tuesdays were about helping everyone build their own path.

GABE from Cotton Seed Designs has been refurbishing beautiful vintage pieces for some time – she started with wood pieces and a few years ago, added upholstery. For her, Tuesdays were a work day – she consistently had projects for clients or consignment. It was a day to reconnect with upholstery friends, and to spread out in professional space. Gabe came in with specific questions – what foam would work here? How thick should this cushion be? What is up with these springs? Do you think I can restyle this attached cushion? Gabe is very competent and self-motivated: She can get a lot done on her own. But Tuesdays meant dedicated time and space, and a chance to explore new territory with support. Now we just need to talk her into a kick-pleat skirt . . .

 

AMY (The Fabulous Amy Oh/Amy Oh Design) has been doing upholstery on her own for some time, and has taken her share of upholstery classes. She’s a retired art teacher, among other fabulous things, and has reupholstered all kinds of wild, wonderful furniture, mostly for friends or to sell on consignment. For Amy, Tuesdays were about refining skills.  She’s taking more custom work, which is generally trickier (and more lucrative) than  consignment – after all, you are selling a product the customer cannot see, and possibly working on a piece with sentimental value. Opening your door to clients brings risks and rewards – it was good to see Amy say YES!

LINDSAY from A Chick and a Chair Upholstery, is a whirlwind self-teacher. She’s taken online courses, worked out of books, and learned loads through trial and error. She found me through Facebook last year and took my Craftsy class. This fall was her first experience with hands-on education, and boy, oh boy, did she hit the ground running.  Lindsay used Tuesdays to work through new or challenging skills – spring tying, or patterning cushions from scratch. But Tuesdays were also about professional support – Lindsay already had the start of a lovely cottage industry, but transitioning from hobbyist to professional is tricky. We discussed pricing and policy, scheduling and customer service. Lindsay opened accounts with Fabric Supply, Greenhouse Fabrics, and Charlotte Fabrics in order to provide quality materials as well as services. Her long and happy client list is growing rapidly <3

In conclusion: this year was awesome.

In my wildest dreams, I could not have imagined a better mix of people for our experiment.  People worked and learned and brainstormed together. They celebrated and planned and laughed together. We  chased down opportunities – some were good . . . and some we learned not to chase again. We connected with other shops, networked with professionals, got involved with the PUAM.

We had a big, messy, inspiring, informative, collaborative, mostly successful year.

I don’t know what this is, but it feels promising.

Lindsay called it, “mentoring.”

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I’m frankly humbled and intimidated by a word that expansive.  But “Somewhat-Secret Upholstery Experiment” lacks a certain clarity.  So we’ll go with Lindsay’s idea:

It seems we offer an Upholstery Mentorship Program.

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Tuesday evening Advanced Group, from left to right: Angela W-Q, Gina Y, Kara G, and Susie V

Oooh. I just got shivers.

I’m still trying to wrap my brain around that. We’re frantically sorting out plans for next year, deciding what to change and what to keep, considering where to go next. I’ll have more information in the next month or so, along with a few exciting announcements.

But I know we’re doing this again, and I know we’ll have a few openings.

If you are interested in being part of the journey next year, feel free to reach out and let me know. I don’t know that we’ll post a registration – I like the idea of actually talking with each person. This isn’t a degree, or a job, and it certainly isn’t the right answer for everyone. But if you’re picking up what we’re putting down, let’s chat. We just might have a spot for you 🙂

Cynthia

“As we get details pinned down for next year, I will be sharing more specifics. We’re looking forward to another big, messy, inspiring, informative, collaborative year!”

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5 Reasons to attend: “Advanced Upholstery Masterclass”

Next month, I’ll be hitting the road with Steve Cone for our Advanced Upholstery Masterclass. On July 15th, we’ll be in Sioux Falls, South Dakota teaching at Design Works Studio. A week later, on July 22nd, we’ll be up in Outing, Minnesota at Anna’s Alterations, Restorations and Upholstery.

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I love teaching. I love meeting students, other professionals, and curious hobbyists. But with so many options for free education online, and so much we can figure out on our own, I have to constantly consider, “Does anybody NEED these classes? What are we offering that is worth their time and money?”

Questions I take very seriously.

Happily, I DO believe in the immense value of continuing education. There are so many reasons to attend!  For today, I’ll just give you five 🙂

1.INFORMATION/SKILLS

Well. . . of course! That’s the obvious benefit – perhaps learning new techniques, perhaps refining your skills. The funny thing with upholstery is that we often don’t know what we don’t know. We are problem solvers, and self-teachers. We HAVE to be! But what if there’s a faster way? A more efficient way? A more successful way? There’s always something to be gained from casting a wider net in our education.

I learned to tie springs from a book, and from my mom (a self-taught pro) and thought I was pretty boss, yeah!!!! Then I worked under Diana Shroyer-Guenther, and DANG! You should see my springs, now <3 <3 <3

I just didn’t know what I didn’t know.

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Another time, I complained to Steve about how attached-cushion ottomans took all day and STILL turned out screwy. “Oh, they aren’t so bad once you know how to do them!”  He was right. Now they take me a quarter of the time AND turn out better. Go figure.

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2. Efficiency

In the case of the ottoman, knowledge immediately led to efficiency, and time is certainly money. We CAN wrestle our way through, but self-teaching and learning from books . . . my goodness, the biggest problem is that it’s time consuming.

There are two obvious ways to increase your income as a pro: charge more or get faster.

When I say faster, I DO NOT mean rush or get sloppy. I mean less struggle, less guessing. What’s nice is that an investment in education often means you get faster AND your results are better. Win, freaking win!

3. Confidence

Most of us haven’t had third party validation that we “know what we’re doing” I had a hard time owning the term “professional” because nobody told me, “NOW you’re a professional!” That can undermine our confidence. At least it undermined mine. ANY opportunity to learn adds a brick to the foundation you stand on. It’s always more fun to meet with a client when you feel confident in your ability to make them happy. Right?

4. Earn more

Two obvious ways to earn more: Charge more or get faster. Knowledge increases efficiency which increases profit. Knowledge creates confidence, and confidence is key to charging a professional rate because you’re CONFIDENT of delivering a professional result.

5. Connections.

As much as I value everything discussed above, I think this is often the most important benefit of all. We’re a small and scattered industry. Upholstery can be isolating, especially if you’re self-taught, or self-employed. Connections with other professionals carry infinite opportunities for return.

Personally, networking has been the single most important factor in my own  journey. It’s led me to jobs, to clients, to students, to business solutions, to mentors. It’s easily meant the difference between hobby and profession.

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Workshops are an opportunity to connect, face to face, with others who share our successes and struggles. Connections offer encouragement, reassurance, empathy. Yup. We’ve had the same frustrating client conversations. We’ve had the job from hell. We’ve also been hugged by and cried on by someone picking up Dad’s chair. We understand the satisfaction of tired and calloused hands. We, too, embarrass our spouses by feeling around underneath furniture. (Shhhhh, I’m just checking the springs.)

We get you. And we can’t wait to meet you.

To join us next month, go to, “Summer Workshops.” There you’ll find more information and links to register. 

Topics planned include:

  • Spring tying (coil springs with a wire edge)
  • “Sewing that sucks” (including attached cushion ottomans!)
  • Finishing touches (double-welt, nailhead, etc) 
  • Moving your business in the right direction (without going crazy) 
  • AND OF COURSE: Open Q&A (because number 5)

See you there! Cynthia & Steve

 

 

Teacher Jen’s Chair

“True teachers are those who use themselves as bridges over which they invite their students to cross; then, having facilitated their crossing, joyfully collapse, encouraging them to create their own.”
― Nikos Kazantzakis

I need to tell you about Teacher Jen, but I don’t know where to start. Teacher Jen is amazing. As my son, Ian told me one day: “That woman really knows what she’s doing.” Indeed she does.

My son is in an ASD program at Sunnyside Elementary School in New Brighton, MN.  He started halfway through first grade and is now in fourth grade. His classroom is like a half sized episode of The Big Bang Theory.

I think as parents, we all hope for teachers who will see our kids the way WE see them – teachers who will see their potential, who will rejoice in their best attributes and help them where they struggle. We hope for teachers who will love our kids on their most unloveable days.

Teacher Jen is one such remarkable individual.

Ian has thrived in her classroom. He’s gone from a 6 year old who was LITERALLY hiding under the table, hissing at teachers, to a 10 year old who’s doing well academically and socially. He’s in karate and swimming and this spring will join track, activities that would have been inconceivable two years ago.

We have more than just Jen to thank, I know. It’s a great program that our district is lucky to have, with knowleadgable, dedicated people on every level. But Teacher Jen? Like I said, she’s just . . . amazing.

So one day a chair appeared in her classroom. It was very cool and very scruffy. I asked about it and Teacher Jen said she’d scavenged it from her husband. She thought it would be a good fit in the classroom,  comfortable and functional and fun. I agreed! But it was full of kid scribbles and the fabric was fairly threadbare. In the past, I’ve offered to do sewing or upholstery projects for my kids’ classrooms – there’s almost always something that could use a little TLC, and most teachers I know are giving more than they have to, to take care of their students.

“Teacher Jen,” I said, “I could reupholster that for you.”

“Oh my goodness, you don’t have to do that!”

“But Teacher Jen, I WANT to do that.”

“But it’s probably not even a very good chair”

“But Teacher Jen, you LIKE it. This is what I do. And I’d rather reupholster that chair than come volunteer in the classroom”

“I just don’t want you to feel like you have to!”

We went back and forth like this for awhile, and finally I sent a fabric book to school with a note:

“Just pick the color you want. It causes me physical pain to look at that chair and not do something about it.”

Teacher Jen laughed and marked three colors – “Really, anything blue is fine. The red is agitating to the kids.”

See? Amazing.

We picked a simple and sturdy textile from Fabric Supply in Minneapolis, a commercial fabric that would be durable and cleanable.

It would also hide sharpie scribbles 🙂 

I kidnapped the chair after school and spent a day carefully repatterning the many sewn pieces.

As commercial seating goes, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the frame and padding. I think this chair was a great candidate for reupholstery. I was careful to excessivly document the construction of the sewn cover, marking the order of assembly and key points of intersection. Whenever you do ANYTHING with this much sewing involved, you need to be practical and humble – successful upholstery is often about leaving a trail of breadcrumbs, NOT tearing everything apart and magically expecting to put it all back together. I’ve never reupholstered a piece exactly like this. That didn’t worry me: but it made me slow down and pay attention.

Thankfully, reassembly was like clockwork. With a little steam and a little elbow grease, the new cover went on beautifully. I called Teacher Jen and arranged to drop the “new” chair off.

I know it was only a chair, but I’m glad Teacher Jen let me do a little something nice for her classroom. I can’t begin to calculate the good that she has done in my child’s life, and that she continues to do. I gave her the gift of professional upholstery because that was what I had to give.
We’ve been blessed as a family to know many generous and talented teachers. It’s a job that demands SO much. If you’re a parent, I hope you’ve met your own Teacher Jen somewhere along the way. And if you have, I hope you’ve told them just how amazing and appreciated they are <3

I’m an Upholsterer: Diana Shroyer Guenther

For several years, I had the good fortune to work under the tutelage of Diana Shroyer Guenther at A-1 Foam & Upholstery.  She is one of the finest craftswomen I’ve ever met: I simply would not be the upholsterer I am today without her.

Her journey through this profession is a story worth retelling. I hope you enjoy it, and if you are a woman working in the industry today, I hope you’ll tip your hat to the brave women who came before us. . .

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“When I was growing up my mom taught me and my sister how to sew:  Clothes, curtains, everything. . .  I liked sewing a lot.  

 I never tried to reupholster any furniture.  I didn’t really know about upholstery, but I loved going to thrift stores.

When I got pregnant with Sheila, I was a single mom. When she was 3 months old, I got a job in manufacturing. I had great daycare.  But I just hated it when I came home and they said, ‘oh she smiled or she did this’  you know, her first stuff . . .I said I can’t do this.  I want to be the one.

For six months, I worked at a place that let me take piece work. home.  That gave me the idea to find something to do at home – I was dating Terry and we were planning on getting married and having more kids . . .

18320905_1280268652093731_8893526017153246574_oSo I looked into the vocational school and I saw upholstery. . .  I thought that would be cool.  I love to sew and thought it would be great to  upholster furniture.  

I started in 1976 – I signed up, only to find out that I was the fifth woman to ever take the course, and that originally Mr. Rodde didn’t think women could handle it . . . the first woman had to go to the governor to get in.  

I remember when I walked into the class Mr Rodde and some of the students laughed.  They looked at me and just kind of giggled cause you know, here I am, a woman, and a LITTLE woman. (Diana is 4’9”)

I think it had to do with abilities like lifting.  But even the men, when you’d put a sofa up on sawhorses they would ask for help. When I was self-employed, and I would be by myself, I would just put one end up on the horse and I’d walk over and get the other end up, you know? When you don’t have two people, you do what it takes.

There were men that would sign up, and the first thing that Mr. Rodde had us do was sew. And some of the guys, within the first week they quit. They’d say, ‘I ain’t doing this. This is woman stuff’ [laughs].  So there was still that thinking, you know. . . that mentality that women do this, men do that.

What surprised me was I went into it because of sewing.  When I got in there and realized how much framework there was, working with the springs, and all that stuff, I thought, ‘Holy sh*t, what’d I get into?!’

It was eighteen months but the first part of it we had to use tacks and hammers.  It was more old school, the original upholstery ways.  So I learned hair stuffing, the double stuffing and using the natural cotton, Marshall units for the cushions, hand sewing . . .  I learned all that and then the last three months we could use our air staple gun.

When  you do the tacks and hammer,  you learn… you get fast at that tool.

I still use the tacks and hammer if I’m doing an antique piece and the customer wants it done original.  It’s up to the customer: if they want it original or not.  If they want it original, it’s preserving the original way it was done.

Most of us have customers that just want something redone,  like, say it’s Grandma’s chair and the straw is all over the floor and they don’t want that . . . they just want to make it so that it looks good and they can use it without stuff falling out.  I don’t think there’s one thing wrong with that.  It depends on what the purpose of the chair is.

By the time I graduated, there were as many women as men coming in.  They just saw the course and were interested in it, I think because of the creativity and stuff. . . before that, there were women interested, but they couldn’t take the class because they weren’t allowed to.

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When I graduated, Mr. Rodde told me he realized how wrong he’d been.  I graduated with an A, and ended up working with Julie and Darlene for a year . . .  And we showed them, you know?  I mean, I learned how to tie springs and do everything a man did, and I was a little woman. . . I think it just shocked him . . . he finally had to admit that women could do it.  He told me he was wrong.

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Eight-way hand-tied springs with a wire-edge, by Diana

Mr Rodde wanted me to work down at Excelsior Upholstery or Gabbert’s. There was some some very high end upholstery shops that did work for the designers, but I didn’t want to drive that far.

We got married in 1978. By the time I started at home, Sheila was like eight years old.  She was in school.  But T.J.  I had him after I started in 1979.  I was working for me.  I started my business, and I had him the next year in May.

Well, I forgot how much work a baby was.  I figured I’d feed him and he’d sleep for four hours and I’d work [laughs] 

T.J., he just grew up in the basement.  We  lived in Fridley, and I had a shop set up . . . I made a little play room area for him and  I tried to get as much done as I could when he was napping.  It was hard.

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“Oh, are you taking a picture, mom? I’ll be right over . . ” TJ and ‘before’ photo in Diana’s shop 😀

When my son was about maybe two years old, I was doing an antique chair so I was spitting tacks,  and I didn’t want him to see me put tacks in my mouth. So I would make sure he wasn’t looking, and I’d put tacks in my mouth and then bring the hammer to my mouth . . . I put my hammer down, and pretty soon he picked it up and he just starts kissing it! He thought I was kissing it and pounding it, kissing it and pounding it! Like when he had a sore, or a boo boo and I’d kiss it . . .

I loved working at home, but when you have a deadline and you’ve got a lot of interruptions it’s stressful.

I did everything:  I did my own bookkeeping, I did pick up and delivery, I did the estimate. . .  I did help people pick out fabrics, which  I didn’t enjoy as much, because I found that I showed them what I liked. You know, what do YOU like??

A lot of times during the day, I’d have to quit work and, say, bring T.J.  to hockey or whatever. . . I’d have to put in a couple hours in the evenings in order to get  whatever I needed to get done for the day. It’s a tradeoff.

I worked  by myself for eighteen years. It was kind of learn-as-I-go, because of course,  you don’t learn everything in eighteen months. So I’d get a piece and I’d think, ‘how in the heck did they do that?’and I’d have to figure it out. That was the advantage once I joined the upholstery association, and had people to ask.  I think once, only once because I stubborn,  I called Mr.  Rodde, and asked him a question when I was really stumped.  

Most of my business was word of mouth –  I’d do stuff for somebody and then they would tell someone in their family . . . I got most of my work that way.   I was a mom too, so I was busy.   I didn’t want to have a three month backlog.  I would get a backlog and that would make me nervous. So I didn’t do a lot of advertising.  Most of my work was word of mouth, and that worked for me because slowly I built up a good clientele. Ten years later I was doing the same furniture over again, and that was fun.  IMG_4360

My kids were grown, so I was by myself a lot. Baker Furniture was looking for somebody to fill in as furniture supervisor while Jill Julich was on vacation.  I was a little slow at that time,  and I thought, oh, that might be fun!  So I did and I really liked it.  It was like a different world. I went from being by myself to working with other people. Plus, you’d  go there, punch a clock, do your work, punch a clock, and go home: you’re done. When you work for yourself, it is so stressful.  

I’ve learned a lot and grown a lot working outside the home. When I started at Baker Furniture, we were doing furniture for designers.  I was working with Jill, and she went to school under Steve Cone.  So we were teaching each other. . .

I think there’s a lot of benefits of working with other people.

I would imagine it’s real frustrating for people who want to get into the field now, because there’s no full time schools.

It’s rare to find a home based business or a small business that will take someone on and train them because their time is involved in just getting the stuff done.

Even in manufacturing, whenever we would get really super busy and they would bring people in from temp services, it would slow the line down because we had to take time to teach them.

So a shop, to take somebody on,  for a while they’re going to lose money. . . if people find a shop where they can learn on the job, they’re really fortunate.

You always got to start again at the bottom, no matter what job you do.  You start at entry level . . . you show them what you know, and you learn what you don’t know, and and it just evolves.

It’s just sad, you know, that both schools discontinued their upholstery classes for computer classes, and now there’s a shortage of people with these labor skills. . . that just really saddens me. And what is going to happen, you know?   Is it eventually nobody’s going to know how to do upholstery?  That’s why I’m so glad that you chose to teach. . . I’m just so glad that you are doing that.

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Diana sharing her favorite way to join welt: with Amy Otteson and Lindsay Orwig at The Funky Little Chair

Your generation learns so much more from the Internet. I think it’s because they can Google,  “How do I fix my chairs?” . . . There’s so much now on the Internet that they they’re starting to learn about, ‘Well, WOW, I can reupholster’. .  You know, I think that’s just great.  I think that’s really the ticket to getting the information out there.

One of the things, now that the green and repurposing is coming back, a lot of the younger generation don’t even know that you can reupholster your furniture.  Have your friends and family, do stuff for them,  just to get something in their house that they can share with their friends and family.  “Hey, look what so-and-so did.”  Get the word out!  But then, you know, nowadays we’ve got Facebook and stuff like that. . .  that’s really a bonus.

It’s never boring . . .  every piece is different.

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Diana, on vacation in South Padre Island, Texas, sitting in a booth at Johnny Rockets – one she cut and sewed the cover for at Foldcraft Inc. Diana
retired from Foldcraft this past January .

I’ve always just really enjoyed upholstery, it’s such a rewarding profession . . . you
 get something and it looks like crap and then when you’re done, it looks so nice!  And you save something from the dump, you know?  You saved it from the landfill. . .  I just get, I get such  a feeling of accomplishment to do that . . .  and, you know,  I think I’m going to do it until I can’t do it anymore.”

 

After a long and busy career, Diana recently retired and is now back at home – doing upholstery for fun 🙂 To hear more from Diana on these and other topics, you can check out the LIVE INTERVIEW we recently did together on Facebook. If you want to meet Diana in person, you can find her every month at a PUAM meeting, where she serves as president to the organization.

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Diana, center front, with members of the Professional Upholstery Association of Minnesota

Everything Starts Small

You may or may not know this, but one of my goals for 2017 is to figure out YouTube. I know at least 20 of you know this, because that’s how many subscribers I have, WOO HOO!!!! Double digits!!!!! I mean, I don’t want to brag, but . . .

I understand that 20 is a laughable number. As is 3 – the number of videos I currently have published. I also know that there’s an ocean of learning between me and this new goal. A year ago, I stood up at the Craftsy Instructor Summit and asked, “What if you’re just some bonehead with a iPhone?”

Yeah. That’s a quote.

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Hanging with Kim Chagnon  and  Cherie Killilea 

So I could be embarrassed by my tiny baby YouTube Channel. I could be cowed and daunted by everything I don’t yet know. I could be (and kind of am) intimidated by people who are waaaaaaay ahead of me on this. I could quit before I really get going, because WHAT A JOKE and I MIGHT FAIL ANYWAY and WHAT IF NOBODY CARES?

What if? What if, what if, what it?????

But I’m not cringing at my little accomplishment. I’m smiling. It’s a start. And I’ve been here before.

I can remember sheepishly starting a Facebook group, then a page, called, “The Funky Little Chair.” I can remember having less than 10 people and hoping they didn’t all unfollow overnight. I can remember when 10 became 100 and 100 became 1,000.

I can remember my first tentative steps into the industry, my first tentative steps toward teaching, toward self-employment, toward opening a shop.

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I can remember my first few clients, and kind of not wanting to call them back with quotes, because I was scared out of my mind at the idea of promising professional results. Who did I think I was, anyway????????

The point is, every time I’ve started, I’ve started small. I’ve started without all the answers. I’ve started with fear (no. . . terror) of the unknown. In the end, there was nothing to do but start anyway.

I don’t know why you’re reading this: Maybe you’re a professional upholsterer. Maybe you’d like to be. Maybe you stumbled on my blog or Facebook for some other reason entirely.

Whoever you are,  I want to say this: Everything starts small. Every big deal out there began as someone’s tiny little idea. So if you need someone to say it, here you go:

Start.

Just start. Do your research, write yourself some affirmations, go get the business mentoring, WHATEVER. Stop waiting for your perfect moment, stop expecting to have all the pieces in place. Nothing is big or perfect right out of the gates, but hey! Come out of the gates anyway.

If you need a cheerleader, I’ll go get my pompoms.

Good luck. Stop thinking that the people who came before you were smarter or braver or magically wired for success. Chances are, one day, they simply made the decision to start small.

“The miracle isn’t that I finished: The miracle is that I had the courage to start.” John Bingham, The Penguin Runner, Patron Saint of the Back of the Pack

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Meet our instructors: Katherine S.

Katherine of W.A. Brown Arts is a professional upholsterer living and working in Minneapolis. She specializes in the careful restoration of heirlooms and antiques using traditional materials and techniques.

Where did she learn how to do that???

Let’s ask Katherine, shall we?

Katherine“I lived in Belgium for 12 yrs. and first trained in a Traditional Upholstery course for a year at the Nijverheid School (like a Technical College) in Antwerp Belgium. Then I did an entire program at Tresithick Upholstery Training in Cornwall, England, which is accredited through the Association of Master Upholsterers and Soft Furnishers or AMUSF. We had a time limit on each of our projects to complete along with a research paper on 20th Century Furnishings. In the end all of our work was evaluated by Royal Upholsterers and you pass or fail. I passed. After that I did a series of woodworking classes in Turnhout, Netherlands (the border was just down the road from our house in Belgium)”

How/where did we first meet?

certificateAfter returning to the U.S., Katherine sought out modern upholstery education, something she had not studied. While her very first love really and truly is traditional, she wanted to understand modern material and techniques as well, since most furniture in Minnesota is relatively young, and clients would undoubtedly be asking for modern services.

So I first met her as a “student’ at Blue Sky Galleries, and had the most wonderful time comparing notes, about her experience overseas in a very different upholstery culture, where antiques and restoration are more common and appreciated, where traditional programs are still firmly in place, and good quality natural materials are far easier to source.

What I adore about Katherine.

She is an absolute artist, a perfectionist . . . Watching her work on an antique bench gave me newfound appreciation for the traditional branch of our craft, for all the beautiful and tedious techniques that are on the precarious edge of disappearing. I could have watched her stitch padding all day.

But she is also gracious and appreciative of the modern side of professional upholstery – which is why conversations were so refreshing and enjoyable. Traditional and modern upholsterers sometimes stand on the opposite side of a professional trench. “You’re a snob!!!” “Well YOU aren’t a real upholsterer!!!!”

manicureWe teased Katherine that we are like her naughty upholstery friends, hanging out behind a dumpster, peer pressuring her into using a staple gun: “Come on, everybody is doing it!!!!!! What are you afraid of???”

Ha ha ha!!!! But really . . . .

I’m unlikely to ever cross into traditional upholstery, I prefer the “newer” stuff. And I am confident that Katherine is firm in her passion for older furniture.

But I’m ever so glad that we can be professional friends 🙂

What she’ll be teaching in June:

IMG_3235_2An introduction to traditional materials and basic padding techniques. This is a tiny taster, mostly demonstration with a smattering of hands-on. She’ll be padding up the seat to coil sprung chair in coir, burlap and cotton. If that doesn’t quite make sense yet, trust me: It’s a gorgeous process, and she’s great at explaining it, step by careful step. She’ll even answer questions, provide handouts, and let us all do a little practice on her demonstration piece.

Who should sign up?

traditional materialsProfessionals and hobbyists who are curious about traditional materials and techniques. Maybe you’ve run into curled hair on occasion, and wonder if you can/should attempt to reuse it. Maybe you want to explore the very different medium that is stitched hair for creative/artistic reasons. Maybe you just really want to understand the difference between traditional and modern so you can be an informed resource for your clients. There are so many great reasons to attend this workshop.

WHY should you sign up??

Traditional upholstery education is extremely hard to come by in the U.S., especially with someone of Katherine’s expansive training. She’s the real deal, folks. I’m tickled pink that she’s willing to share a little of her knowledge, her time, her deep love of traditional upholstery, with our curious community.

You are going to be so very inspired.

Where can you sign up?

Right here.

See you in St. Paul!

Meet our instructors: Amy Otteson

The fabulous Amy Oh has been many amazing things – to name just a few:14502837_728466107305465_4952498798934895193_n

  • a middle school art teacher
  • a freelance illustrator
  • a decorator
  • a “blogging RV hobo” (her words)

And this summer she’ll be a guest instructor at The Funky Little Chair!!! How lucky are we??? Let me tell you more. . .

Amy Otteson, Amy Oh! DesignHow/where did we first meet?

Amy came in as a student when I was teaching at Blue Sky Galleries in  Minneapolis. She took several weekend classes and a couple technique classes. Now she’s a lively part of my Tuesday Advanced group, working on client, personal and consignment projects.

june-24th-2017-4I was beyond delighted to learn in passing that Amy was once part of a start-up that created hand-painted textiles for designers and even Kravet Fabrics. My goodness!!!!! We are NOT talking about spray painting furniture, here, folks. There are practical considerations for making hand painted textile that WORK.

She brought me one of her cow pillows to check out when I asked about maybe doing a summer class. It’s seriously one of my favorite things in the whole world. Everyone should have a hand painted pillow. The world would be a happier place.

Why I’m psyched

IMG_4329Amy adds great energy to every group I’ve ever taught – she hollers and sings, and drags in crazy fabrics, in all kinds of crazy combinations. If there was a patron saint for living with passion and creativity, and unbridled enthusiasm for trying new things, IT WOULD BE AMY.

And you know me.

I believe in singing out loud, all the time. And making mistakes, because how else are you gonna learn????? I believe in working really hard to be good at stuff, but I also believe we gotta start somewhere, and that many things can be enjoyed whether we’re good at it or not. Just because you think you’re a crumby artist doesn’t mean you should avoid the joy of making art. Are you trying to go pro? No? Then come paint a darn pillow.

What she’ll be teaching in June:

Hand-painting fabrics for home dec! The technical aspects, the artistic aspects. Equal parts creativity and practicality. She’ll bring her crazy brain to help you start thinking of what to paint. And she’ll bring her expertise to help you make sure it all ends well. Dress for mess, we’ll have the fabric and brushes and goodies.

Who should sign up?

The beauty of this class is that anyone can really enjoy it – there’s no prerequisite, and you can do whatever you want with your finished fabric! If you want to restore a Chesterfield, you better get on board for 1,000 hours of intense work and education. But HEY! You know what might be MORE fun???? Making a super fabulous, super fun, super custom piece of hand-painted fabric and then doing something simple with it. Trust me, I put A LOT of projects up on social media – the most popular ones are never complicated: They’re usually uber simple in an exceptionally cool fabric. So whether you’re a pro looking for creative options, or a brand new hobbyist, this class has something you can build on.

WHY should you sign up??

Because Amy is SO MUCH FUN. It’s hands on, it’s messy, it’s going to be a blast. There is no reason in the world to be intimidated, even if you’ve never painted before, or you aren’t sure what you want to make, or you consider yourself artistically inept. Come let Amy cheer you on. Have lunch with a bunch of hip kids. We’ll have a great time together. I’m sure of it 🙂

Where can you sign up?

GOSH, I thought you’d never ask – HERE YA GO!

See you in St. Paul!

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