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: how little trad upholstery do you do? 10%...25%?  ( 5908 )
firefly
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« : November 20, 2011, 05:08:49 PM »

As a novice and trainee I'm interested in knowing to what extent traditional upholstery is still being practised and carried out. The few Irish upholstery workshops that I know a little about seem to spend most of their time recovering modern frames. A few of the more established businesses have someone on hand to fit webbing, hessian and tie in springs when an antique presents itself, but it's not their bread and butter, and if they waited on traditional upholstery work only they'd find themselves with a lot of time on their hands.

So is this the same elsewhere? Is it the case that most workshops do little or no traditional work at all? Or is there more of it around than I imagine? I'm very curious to find out how this pans out (there are probably dramatically different regional, not to mention, national patterns, but anyway...)

Any responses most welcome! FF.
sofadoc
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« #1 : November 20, 2011, 05:31:38 PM »

I would say less than 25%. Most of the antiques I get in have been recovered several times before, and most of the time, traditional methods were NOT used in the previous recovers. In most cases, a complete restoration is not in the customer's budget.

"Perfection is the greatest enemy of profitability" - Mark Cuban
kodydog
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« #2 : November 20, 2011, 10:23:14 PM »

I believe most craftsmen would prefer to recover antiques. There is a lot of satisfaction in restoring a piece of history. Most antiques have unique and beautiful lines. Unlike anything produced today. To take a 100 year old sofa, with the springs hanging out the bottom, the back sunken in, the cushions worn beyond use, and the frame falling apart. To take that and turn it into a useful and beautiful piece of furniture gives you great pride.

Problem is, like Sofadoc said, a lot customers either can't afford a full restoration or don't see the value in it. And knowing this some upholsterers won't show the customer all that needs to be done to bring it up to a useable and lasting piece of furniture. There attitude is just cover over it and make it as affordable as possible. This is why you often see 3 or more covers on older pieces of furniture. And frankly these upholsterers probably don't know the fine art of retieing springs or the craft of frame repair.  

There are artisans out there that have built up a name for themselves as experts in antique restorations and these upholsters can charge a fair wage for there services and make a good living at it. But I find, even though I charge a bit more for antiques, I seldom make a profit on them. No mater how much you examine a piece during the estimate, when you take it apart there is always more work than you anticipated.

If your asking if this is something you should peruse, I'd say absolutely. You can do anything you set your sights on and don't let anyone tell you, you can't. You once mentioned your already taking classes. That's good. Learn from as many teachers as you can. And the sooner you start doing it professionally the better.
« : November 21, 2011, 07:29:25 AM kodydog »

There cannot be a crisis next week. My schedule is already full.
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alge
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« #3 : November 22, 2011, 11:16:31 AM »

Lots and lots, Probably 90% of my traditional work is actually traditional  ;D.

I'm in the south east of England so i do loads of antiques & make new furniture to antique recipes. Saying that i do make modern natural filling furniture that isn't using trad. methods. I do use foam for deep buttoned wall panels, headboards but not too often on chairs or sofas - customers can get that in most workshops and they will probably be better than me at using it.

Stick with the syllabus your learning Its really important for UK (and I'm guessing Irish) upholsterers to be practiced in both modern and traditional equally until your workload dictates you choice of path. And dont forget foam is a petro chemical by-product which will continue to get more expensive until it (oil) runs out. We may find the old methods creeping back in????
« : November 22, 2011, 11:17:36 AM alge »
firefly
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« #4 : November 24, 2011, 04:51:27 PM »

Sofadoc, many thanks for responding. I suppose budget will determine a lot, though it's difficult to figure exactly where the owner of an antique wing back might be situated. I mean, I can well believe that someone will hesitate at a complete rebuild, even if necessary, when told how much it will cost. On the other hand, I'm thinking that anyone with the means to own antique furniture in the first place is likely to want to hang on to it, and more importantly, will have the deeper pockets necessary to maintain it (recession or no recession!).

Well spotted Kobydog! Yes, I suppose I am asking if I should pursue traditional upholstery despite feeling that there might be potentially less work available. And I reckon the problem you identify is something that pretty much goes with the trad route: pricing something, only to discover later that you're now caught for more labour than you anticipated... This is where - perhaps - modern upholsterers have an additional advantage in being able (I think!) to more accurately price a job in the first place.


Thanks Alge. Yes, I thought there might be differences, depending on where you lived. In London, where I train, there seems to be plenty of customers looking for traditional stuff, and the instructor tells me that some punters are particular, and knowledgable enough, to insist on tacks all the way: no staples allowed! Good point about the future of upholstery possibly lying in the past though!

cheers and thanks to all. FF.
mroy559
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« #5 : September 19, 2012, 04:42:51 AM »

I would say below 25%. Almost all of the antiques I be in have been recovered more than once before, and usually, traditional methods just weren't used in the previous recovers. In many instances, a complete restoration isn't in the particular customer's finances.

sofadoc
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« #6 : September 22, 2012, 03:44:21 PM »

I would say below 25%. Almost all of the antiques I be in have been recovered more than once before, and usually, traditional methods just weren't used in the previous recovers. In many instances, a complete restoration isn't in the particular customer's finances.
Wow mroy! Yet another masterfull nugget of info. I swear, I don't know where you come up with this stuff. ::)

"Perfection is the greatest enemy of profitability" - Mark Cuban
byhammerandhand
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« #7 : September 22, 2012, 04:13:37 PM »

Just remember, 57.8% of all statistics quoted are made up on the spot.

Wow mroy! Yet another masterfull nugget of info. I swear, I don't know where you come up with this stuff. ::)

Keith

"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." Thomas A. Edison
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