A two week upholstery class at the Anderson Ranch Arts Center - June 2022
Taught by Tina Ortman of Sturdy Stitching Upholstery
The Anderson Ranch Arts Center, located in Snowmass, Colorado offers workshops in furniture design, woodworking, ceramics, sculpture, digital design and fabrication, painting, printmaking and photography.
Tina apprenticed at a shop in Anchorage, Alaska called "Alaskan Durable Products". She mentioned to her brother that she thought it was a silly name, but he countered with, “Durable is good in a company name." He came up with "Sturdy Stitching Upholstery" as the name of her business in 1993.
Tina’s students this year had some, little and no experience:
Michael learned how to sew and the importance of mocking up patterns in deck cloth to refine them for the real fabric. He has a wealth of knowledge about MCM pieces. We were able to smuggle his dog, Raj, into the studio on the last day to adorn his work.
Marcy brought 3 pieces and diverse choices of fabric. She thought she'd name her new upholstery company "Wabi-Sabi Upholstery". I later learned it's a Japanese term for 'not perfect'. At a frustrating point, she considered chopping up her chair with an axe. She then gained confidence and got a job with an upholsterer back home!
Janie completed two chairs and learned the importance of keeping cushion tops and bottoms lined up at the corners. If it’s not right at the corner, it will not improve if you keep going!
Anne finally made cushions for the chaise lounge and McGuire chair she scavenged out of the Aspen dump about 15 years ago.
Danette approached her Eastlake-like chair with her engineer precision. She wanted to learn to re-tie springs but her chair was already beautifully tied and had an intact traditional hog hair/burlap base. She made an ottoman frame and installed the coil springs in that piece instead.
Sarah had the biggest challenge with her old vinyl covered chair that had gotten wet in the past and grown an enthusiastic colony of mold. Stripping, remediating mold, replacing rotten stretcher bars and refinishing wood slowed her down. She then did one of the most precise jobs of spring-tying I've ever seen a new upholsterer do!
Patricia redesigned one arm of her barrel chair into an asymmetrical art piece. The Anderson Ranch Woodshop Coordinator, Karen, and intern, Angelo, worked tirelessly to build the framework to match Patricia's vision. She took it from there and came in early and stayed late to get it done. She was able to sew the mock-up of her cushion pattern and finished with her upholstery fabric just after the class ended.
Laura is a steady and sure upholsterer who has done several chairs in the past. The smooth character of her fabric challenged her to make the base padding just as smooth.
Angelo was the enthusiastic, cheerful intern. He found two dining chairs at the Aspen dump and upholstered them with samples he quilted from an old fabric book. He designed and digitized (his specialty) the class T-shirt logo "Always Be Knolling" using upholstery tools. You can learn all about Knolling by watching Tom Sach's 10 Bullets on YouTube.