so I've also been taking an upholstery class. It has been interesting.
First off, the instructor wasn't sure she wanted me in her class because she has an antique shop and design business that includes upholstering. When I first attempted to enroll (through a local arts group), they posed a series of questions including why I was taking the course. Upon hearing I had a boutique, I was told I had to speak directly with the instructor before I could enroll.
She grilled me re: my business and motives. Would I be setting up an upholstery service? etc. etc. I was honest and even invited her to visit my shop. She told me that upholstery was considered a 'metier' and it required a 2 year course of study to become certified, which she was.
My goal is to familiarize myself with the techniques and if I come across an old chair I want to restore for myself or for resale, I would. But I don't have the time nor inclination to become an upholsterer.
She agreed to take me.
For some reason, the stars have not been aligned throughout the process. First, when she came by to 'visit' she informed me the class was to be delayed due to pending snow. Then, when she found out I was considering travelling in February, she was put out and quick to note there would not be 'make up' sessions. Understandable, but the world closes up in February for school holidays. Ahhh, she had indeed forgotten that and so then her attitude was reigned in.
Compounding matters, I ended up missing the first class ... sigh. The 2nd class (my 1st) went okay ... but I quickly saw that she really had zero English ... and made few attempts to make her French more understandable to me (e.g., speaking a little more slowly, etc.) I didn't earn any points by needing to leave early to head off for Paris.
The 3rd class (my 2nd) was cut short due to snow. During this class, she also invited me to join her sewing course. I was interested because they are making all sorts of purses and bags, including a bread bag ... which I've had an idea for ... she told me I would need to have my own sewing machine. So, I went out and bought the machine and then emailed her to check if there were other materials I needed. Lo and behold, the sewing class space was no longer open (hmmm) and now I have a brand new sewing machine. Also, while there at my class, she showed me a range of fabrics available for my chair ... (or so I thought). I then lugged the chair home to paint ... with my selected fabric in mind.
Then at my last class ... which was extended to accommodate the forfeited snow time ... I was told that no - that fabric wasn't for THIS class but another. She then pointed out a few fabrics that were available. The only one that didn't make me puke was a kind of chartreuse green, so in my head I worked through the paint and this fabric and decided okay. Later in the class I told her I would take it ... she proceeded to tell me maybe there wasn't enough and she unrolled the fabric to confirm that indeed ... it wasn't sufficient. She then showed me a chocolate brown linen that was off to the side that I could have for 25€ per meter and I'll need 2! She will only hold it through Monday so now I've got to go search fabric as I don't really want to spend 50€ on this little side chair. harumph. and oh, by the way, she told me that the sewing class is now finished! (why did she invite me in the 1st place if there was only one more class?!)
Much of it is the language barrier for sure. And she doesn't seem inclined to try and understand me. And for whatever reason, I find her manner one of trying to intimidate.
probably all in my head. I even showed up with a cake knowing the class would be extended 2-1/2 hours for make up time.
The others in the class are nice enough (4 other women), one who lives in Brantôme and seems she might be friends with Laurence (the instructor). All have been very cordial to me. I'm thinking it is more of French style thing and I regularly seem to lose things in translation so I'm giving the benefit of the doubt.
JY says she is more likely a typical Perigourdine! ha.
But in spite of all of that, I'm acquiring knowledge on a technique and that's great. Let me tell you, I now have a better understanding of why upholsterers charge what I used to think were astronomical prices. It is not easy work, it is physical and acquires a great degree of attention to detail. It is all, of course, by hand ... and the care taken can ensure a high quality result. But the time and effort combined with the cost of materials means it isn't to be taken lightly. or cheaply.
I've spent about 8 hours in the class now and am just arriving at the stage where the seat will be stuffed! Next week-end there is no class because she can't make it. but February 20th she IS holding a class, in spite of the school holiday and then taking a break until March 6th.
If I go anywhere during spring break, it means that I'll probably receive about 50% of the instruction time I paid for.
But ... who knows what might be possible in the weeks ahead...her store is lovely and her work is divine. I'd be happy to refer clients to her if I felt the relationship improved. Guess I'll just buck up and examine what is really going on ... how much of it is in my head or elsewhere! ha... but here's a few photos and there are more on the flickr page (sidebar) so feel free to check it out.
p.s. the last class involved some heavy-duty pulling and tightening of the cord that secures springs, etc. this morning I awoke to pains in funny places (muscles in the front of my underarm!!!) ha! so I'm getting the free benefit of that as well! I must factor that into my investment...