An Apple For Teacher

It’s tough is this. This upholstery lark.

Many are the times I would have happily thrown in the hessian, the double ended needle and the wax coated twine. The dining room has given itself over to an upholstery workshop. I can’t quite remember how many times I have had the Dyson to bits to facilitate the extrication of wads of compacted horsehair from deep within its bowels. My fingers give a realistic impression of what a pincushion must feel like. And one elbow has blown up to double the normal size and filled up with fluid. I must have walloped it at some point but I can’t even remember when.

But no. I tell myself that this is all part of the pain of learning a new skill. There are (fleeting) moments of insight into what it could be like when the processes involved become intuitive and less a result of hard fought conscious effort. When the sinuous curves of a chair emerge seemingly unbidden under the gentle caress of my hands. By which time my nails might even have grown back. And so it was that during a bleeding break yesterday afternoon I calmly watched the YouTube video on edge stitching for the umpteenth time, a tissue pressed firmly against the wound. The trail of my DNA across household projects continues unabated. I can only hope there is never a need for forensics in this house. They would have a field day.



You may recall that I started the upholstery lessons back in September. It isn’t a structured course exactly, more of a rolling workshop where we take in our projects whatever they may be and whatever stage we are at. That comes with its own set of frustrations but it’s interesting to see what other people are tackling and comforting to know that any problems I might be encountering are by no means unique to me.



Edge stitching in progress


When I signed up for the course, way back last Spring, I thought it would be the perfect way to learn given that I could work on the chairs we already had. True, a pair of antique French chairs is perhaps not the best place to start for an absolute beginner. Something with straight lines is what is needed apparently. Such as a footstool. My chairs are somewhat more complicated and..



ummm.. fairly round.

(And yes, we have still to get the sand blasters in for the fireplace.)


The ultimate shape one is aiming for is open to interpretation. I take my cues from the structure of the frame. But how much should the upholstery overhang the side of the arm? Should it be flat on top or slightly rounded? How much extra stuffing does that take? And of course as soon as I am happy with one arm the other arm has then to be created in its exact mirror image. So why not go for broke and compound the problem by taking on a matching pair of chairs?

As is usually the case, I am my own worst enemy. At roughly one day of tuition a month progress isn’t exactly rapid. The theory was that I would work on one of the chairs in class and then consolidate the learning by bringing the second chair up to the same level at home. With perhaps a bit of additional homework thrown in to keep things moving. And what did we always do with homework then? Leave it until the last possible day before the deadline and then work flat out with precious little time to spare? Yep. This, I can tell you, is also the most reliable way of discovering that you didn’t pay as much attention to teacher’s instructions as you might. Especially when distracting things like Christmas intervene.



 Mike accompanied me to the most recent lesson which was a 1:1. Which means of course that the Under Upholsterer now comes equipped with knowledge, able and more than willing to offer all manner of useful advice. It’s a brave man who tells his wife that her edge roll is too small. Especially when she has a ten inch double ended needle in her hand at the time. Remember the forensic evidence Jessica, remember.




If I am very lucky. Maybe if I took in an apple?