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The latest news and blog posts from the National Upholstery Association.  All members can read and comment on blog posts.

Industry Partners and Educator members are invited to guest blog for the NUA twice a year. Contact us if you're interested. 

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  • February 23, 2023 9:10 AM | Laura Archer (Administrator)

    To celebrate Black History Month, we would like to recognize Leroy Graves’ historic career and profound impact on the upholstery trade. Last year, the NUA hosted a CWC pre-trip to The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, where our members got an exclusive look at Leroy’s meticulous work on display. Inventor of the “Graves Method,” this non-destructive approach to upholstery preserves the delicate wooden frames of the furniture Leroy works on. It has been adapted and used by conservators around the world. 

    Leroy’s story from humble beginnings to world-renowned upholstery conservator and author serves as an inspiration to upholsterers everywhere. His book, Early Seating Upholstery : Reading the Evidence, can be purchased via the link, and The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s website has more information on his work, Upholstery CSI: Reading the Evidence

    Please visit the links below to learn about Leroy and his incredible contributions to the trade. 

    The legend of Leroy Graves: From fields to fame in furniture—ABC News

    "Upholstery CSI": Preserving antique furniture at Colonial Williamsburg—CBS News


    Unmasking the secrets of 1700s upholstery in Colonial Williamsburg—Daily Press

    For Leroy Graves, Upholstery Means Detective Work—New York Times

  • February 20, 2023 12:00 PM | Harmony Maraldo (Administrator)

    Earlier this month, I had the privilege of chatting with Ceil DiGuglielmo for the Opportunity Thinking series of her podcast, Sew Much More. We talked about my journey into upholstery, the important work of the National Upholstery Association, and a little about my full-time job as a pricing strategist. This episode was released yesterday.

    I spent a good deal of time talking about the NUA and its mission, so I wanted to share that episode with all of you. I am incredibly proud of the work we've done in the last three and a half years, and I think it's worth celebrating! 

    Here's a link to listen. You can also find the episode by searching for the Sew Much More podcast on your favorite podcast app. I hope you'll give it a listen and share, if you can!


  • January 20, 2023 8:00 AM | Harmony Maraldo (Administrator)
    As I reflect back on 2022, I feel a huge sense of pride in our association and the things we’ve accomplished in the three years since its founding. However, we would not be where we are today without our members and volunteers. First and foremost I want to say THANK YOU to both our members and our dedicated volunteers for your ongoing support. We are a volunteer-led organization, which means that 100% of your membership dues go directly toward building programs that benefit and strengthen our industry.

    The National Upholstery Association (NUA) seeks to reestablish the systems that provide key resources for our industry - including professional development opportunities, apprenticeship paths, support groups, grants and scholarships, hiring and placement assistance, training opportunities, ongoing education, and more. The decline of available resources for upholstery professionals is colossal and systemic; meaningful change is a huge undertaking and will take time. But each year we march toward that goal, advocating for our members and focusing on the projects that will have the most immediate positive impact within our trade.

    2022 marked our first year back to in-person events since the pandemic began. The personal connections we make when face-to-face are incredibly important in building relationships and fostering collaboration. I’m so glad I had the opportunity to meet so many of you in person and to listen to your ideas and feedback at last year’s Furniture Manufacturing Expo and Custom Workroom Conference. I felt incredibly energized after those events - and I bet you did, too. They gave me an opportunity to network, commiserate, and connect. And I want more of that.

    In the spirit of togetherness, we’ve decided to announce a theme for 2023 - COMMUNITY. This year, we’ll focus our efforts on creating more opportunities for connection and collaboration. We’re still working out the details, but stay tuned for more information about community building programs such as regional events, mentorship programs, and more. Want to help? Apply to become a volunteer!

    At the end of the year, I like to reflect on and celebrate our progress. Here are a handful of our key accomplishments in 2022:

    • Met with the Consumer Product Safety Commission to clarify the impact of the new Standard for the Flammability of Upholstered Furniture as it relates to reupholstery
    • Developed resources to explain the new federal flammability regulation in plain terms and how it impacts our members
    • Added 3 new membership levels to give our Industry Partners and Educators more flexibility in the level of benefit they receive
    • Overhauled our Membership Overview page to better articulate the benefits of each member level
    • Developed a directory of Upholstery Educators in the United States and Canada
    • Exhibited at two trade conferences, including the Furniture Manufacturing Expo and the Custom Workroom Conference
    • Signed up 22 new members at the Custom Workroom Conference (welcome, new friends!)
    • Conducted our second annual Pricing Survey (results available to members only)
    • Doubled-down on our PR efforts in order to broaden our recognition and reach in the industry
    • Distributed our first-ever press release, which was picked up by Furniture Today
    • Grew our social media reach by ~22% across all platforms, totaling more than 6,100 followers today
    • Elected 6 new Board members to help us carry the NUA to the next level. There is SO MUCH TALENT in this group! Take a look at your 2023 Board of Directors here.

    »»»»»  WE NEED VOLUNTEERS!  «««««

    During the pandemic, nearly all of our volunteers understandably stepped down from their NUA volunteer activities to concentrate on their businesses, their families, and their health. In response, we scrambled to reprioritize projects and focused our efforts on the core benefits our members love. A few very dedicated volunteers remained, and the Board of Directors rolled up their sleeves to keep the association cogs turning. I am incredibly grateful to everyone for getting it done in spite of the circumstances. A special thank you to:

    • The 2022 Board of Directors for pitching in when there was no one else to do the work: Kim Newell, Rachel Fletcher, Grace Reff, Lewis Mabon, Andrew Bodjanac, Keaven Willa Hartt, Manda Marie, and Kevin Fuller.
    • Our remaining 2022 volunteers who gave their time toward our mission: Jeanne Henzel, Ruti Wajnberg, Audrey Lonsway, Angela Dreis, Debbie Lousberg, Debby Albrecht, Carla Pyle, Sue Sifakis, Amber Robertson, Sarah Linde, and Laura Archer - THANK YOU.

    Our 2022 volunteers and board members picked up the slack when others stepped down - and they are tired. It takes a COMMUNITY to run an association of our size, and we need help! We are looking for volunteers to serve on committees or take on single projects. The average volunteer commitment is just 2-3 hours per month.

    I want to help, but I don’t have the technical or business skills to be useful.

    Many of our volunteer projects don’t require any special skills. Maybe you’re good at crafting emails, or picking up the phone and talking to people, or using search engines to do research…or perhaps you have a strong social network and can spread the word. Let’s chat and find out what projects you’re most passionate about and where you feel you can make the most impact!

    Volunteering is also a great way to network. If you are a new upholsterer looking to make connections, or a seasoned one looking to broaden your network, this is a fabulous opportunity. There’s an old saying that you get out what you put in, and I can personally attest that becoming a volunteer with the NUA has opened professional doors I never knew existed!

    Here are just a few areas where we’re looking for help. Have another idea about how you can support the industry? We’re all ears! Apply here to become a volunteer.

    • Volunteer recruitment (our most immediate need!)
    • Committee leadership (all committees)
    • Regional events coordination
    • Blog writing and curation
    • Mentorship program development and administration
    • Online library organization
    • Website updates and overall organization
    • Calendar updates - webinars, NUA events, Industry Partner and Educator events, etc.
    • Contests, grants, and scholarships curation
    • Industry Partners and Educators liaison
    • Connecting upholsterers and interior designers
    • Developing an apprenticeship readiness plan for workrooms
    • Negotiating member discounts
    • Securing sponsorships for events
    • Business education
    • Promoting reupholstery as an intrinsic component of the circular economy

    Are you already working towards the betterment of our trade? The National Upholstery Association also seeks to amplify the accomplishments of our members and to connect them to resources that aid in their success. If you’ve begun your own project or entrepreneurial endeavor to strengthen the upholstery industry, we’d love to hear about it!

    In closing, I truly believe that 2023 will be a watershed year for our association. We have some incredible projects on the horizon - projects that will have a lasting impact on our industry. We just need a handful of enthusiastic volunteers to help bring these projects to life. Please join us on our mission to strengthen the industry by supporting the National Upholstery Association in any way that you can: by becoming a member, renewing your membership, inviting others to join, buying some swag from our online shop, spreading the word about the NUA, or rolling up your sleeves and volunteering on a project or committee.

    Warmest wishes for a prosperous new year,

    Harmony Maraldo
    President, National Upholstery Association 2022/2023

  • January 17, 2023 8:46 AM | Harmony Maraldo (Administrator)

    By Amy Petersen, CPA, aka “The Recovering Accountant” 

    Important:  This article is meant to provide general information regarding taxes for US-based upholstery businesses.  Every situation is different.  Consult a tax advisor for more information regarding your specific circumstances.  

    Yes, it’s that time of year referred to as “tax season” in the USA.  The federal income tax filing deadlines are quickly approaching: 

    • March 15, 2023, for Partnerships (Form 1065), S Corporations (Form 1120S), and C Corporations (Form 1120) 
    • April 18, 2023, for Individuals, including Sole Proprietors (Schedule C).  (We get a few extra days this year for the weekend and the DC holiday, Emancipation Day—yay!) 

    Note:  Check your individual state’s Department of Revenue (or similar) website for filing deadlines, as your state may not follow Federal deadlines 

    I would like to suggest that all of us upholstery business owners start working on our taxes sooner than later.  Like now.  Block off the time on your calendar, chain yourself to your desk, hire help, do whatever you need to do!   

    “Why should I start thinking about taxes now?  It’s still months away!” 

    The sooner your taxes are filed, the sooner you get your refund!  Or, if you’re going to owe, the sooner you file (or at least have a draft of your tax return prepared) the earlier you’ll know what that number is, and the longer you’ll have to save up for that bill.   

    If you’re using an accountant to prepare your taxes, the sooner you have your information to him/her, the better the chance that they will not have to file an extension for you.  Extension calculations take time to prepare, and time=money. 

    Either way, you’ll sleep better once you have them done.  Guaranteed. 

    “Oh my gosh!  Where do I even start?” 

    In an ideal world, you are using QuickBooks or another accounting program, you are keeping accurate books, your bank accounts and credit cards are reconciled for 2022, and you’re ready to go! 

    Most of us don’t live in an ideal world.   

    If you are using an accounting program, it’s time to review your data, enter missing information, and reconcile your accounts through the end of 2022.   

    If you haven’t looked at a single number all year, don’t panic, but get busy gathering and organizing your income and expense numbers.  Build a spreadsheet using your bank and credit card statements, receipts, and other paperwork.  Categorize your expenses in a reasonable way.  Use your prior year taxes for a starting point for categories, look at the lines on the forms, or let TurboTax suggest groupings for you.  And don’t be afraid to create “other” categories that fit your individual business.   

    “What if I’m forgetting something?” 

    If you are using one bank account and one credit card for your business, and not co-mingling your personal expenses with your business expenses, no worries!  All the money in and out for your business (with a few exceptions) will be found on those statements.  If not, please consider making this a 2023 New Year’s Resolution: “I will only use my business accounts for business expenses, and I will only use my personal accounts for personal expenses.” 

    If you’ve been using various personal accounts for business deposits and expenses, it’s going to take a while to sort through the statements, plus any other paperwork you have that supports the numbers.  It’s a good idea to start now.   

    Here are some deductions that probably aren’t going to be run through your business accounts:   

    • Business use of the home.  Is your workroom in your basement, dining room, or other part of your home?  Then you will get a deduction for it based on a percentage of all your home expenses, or a simpler method of $5/square foot.    

    • Mileage.  Do you drive to clients, or to your supplier, or anywhere else business-related?  If you have tracked those trips on a log, with an app, or in your calendar, you can take a deduction.  For 2022, that deduction is 58.5 cents per mile for the first half and 62.5 cents for the second half, which adds up fast!  

    • Cell Phone and Internet.  If you use your cell phone and internet for business (don’t we all?), then take a deduction for the portion that is business related.  Do your best to estimate this portion.   

    “There’s no way I’m going to be ready to file my taxes on time.  Now what?” 

    About 1 in every 10 taxpayers files an extension, and most of them are business owners.  It’s OK! 

    Here’s the important thing to remember about extensions:  They are an extension to file, NOT an extension to pay.  So based on last year, or the information that you do have pulled together, or (worst case) your gut, if you think you’re going to owe taxes, pay something into the IRS/state with your extension.   

    What are the consequences of not paying an extension payment?  Once you file your taxes (no later than October 15th, 2023), you will most likely owe 0.5% percent of the amount due for every month or part of the month (even one day) past the April 18th deadline, plus interest on the amount due (currently at an annual rate of 7.0%), calculated on a daily basis.    

    Please don’t blow off the extension.  The late filing penalties (you file after April 18th, owe taxes, and didn’t file an extension) are much higher than the late payment penalties outlined above, usually 5% per month or part of a month, plus interest. This is 10x the late payment penalties! 

    One more thought about extensions:  If you file one, try not to wait until the extended due date of October 15th (for individuals and sole proprietors) to file your tax return.  Do it as soon as you can.  Your accountant will thank you and you’ll sleep better! 

    Note:  Many, but not all, states accept the Federal extension as an extension of the state taxes, too.  Check with your Department of Revenue (or similar) or accountant to see if you need to file a separate state extension. 

    “What if I can’t pay?” 

    It happens.  If your business is new, or you made more money than you thought you did, or whatever the reason, you may owe more than you can pay.  The IRS (and most states) are happy to set you up on a payment plan.  The interest rates are less than putting this obligation on a credit card, and the terms are set up for you to succeed in paying it off.  If you file your tax return and can’t pay the amount due, you can be proactive and set up a payment plan (see, or you can wait for the IRS to send you a bill and “invite” you to set up a payment plan. 

    “Is there anything good about tax season?” 

    Yes!  Seeing your business profit to the point of owing taxes means that you are making money doing something that you love!

  • January 06, 2023 3:00 PM | Harmony Maraldo (Administrator)

    In November 2022, the National Upholstery Association held our second annual Pricing Survey, where we asked respondents how much they charge for various upholstery services. Our questions were weighted toward residential upholstery services, though several questions applied to commercial, marine, and other specialties as well.

    The survey collected data from 218 US-based upholsterers and workrooms, nearly equal to the 215 responses we collected in 2021. We chose to keep the questions identical to last year’s survey, as we wanted to accurately compare prices year-over-year.

    A few key insights include:

    • Year-over-year, the price of upholstery services as surveyed increased by 8.2%. Over the same period of time, the US inflation rate was 7.1%.*
    • Out of 22 services surveyed, 2 services yielded overall median prices lower than 2021. All other individual services saw increases of 0% to 18%.
    • There is currently no official pricing standard for residential upholstery. Some upholsterers charge by the piece, others by the hour, some by the inch/foot/percentage, etc. We received several comments from respondents noting that they price differently than surveyed.

    Click the button below to view the results. You must be a member of the National Upholstery Association to access this data. Results are presented in a dynamic visual format, allowing the viewer to filter results by geographic area, service area size, and shop size.

    Survey Results

    This year we received a few inquiries about our decision to restrict the survey to US-based upholsterers. This is a fair question, as our member base includes Canadian workrooms. We considered opening the survey to all; however, this came with a couple tricky issues. First, Canada and the US have different currencies with ever-changing exchange rates. And second, we have only a handful of Canadian members, so even if we surveyed them as a separate group, the survey would yield too few data points to return meaningful insights. We may find a way to solve this challenge in the future, but in the meantime, if you are one of our valued Canadian members, our best advice is to filter the results by a metro area most similar to yours and then do the currency conversion to compare pricing in your area.

    If you are not a member of the National Upholstery Association, please consider joining! Membership gets you access to the pricing survey results, as well as other exclusive benefits. Check out our Membership Overview page for details.

  • January 01, 2023 12:00 PM | Harmony Maraldo (Administrator)

    The NUA is proud to introduce you to the newest faces of the Board at Large for the 2023-2024 years! Board members freely give their time to collaborate with each other, Executive Officers, and volunteers to keep NUA running strong. The NUA is lucky to have a dedicated group to address the needs of the organization and its members. Learn more about our Board here, and please join us in welcoming our newest members!

  • November 05, 2022 3:40 AM | Laura Archer (Administrator)

    The National Upholstery Association attended the Custom Workroom Conference (CWC) for the first time last month. Our purpose for attending was to connect with upholsterers around the country to further our mission of increasing the health of the upholstery trade! 

    This year, the National Upholstery Association proudly sponsored a pre CWC trip to Colonial Williamsburg where three staff members—Leroy Graves, Tara Chicirda, and Gretchen Guidess— lead presentations on historic upholstery, soft furnishings and the preservation of historic furniture pieces.

    To see more photos, please visit our Facebook album! For more information on NUA sponsored events, become a member today. 

  • September 12, 2022 1:00 AM | Harmony Maraldo (Administrator)

    By Monica Rhodes, NUA Volunteer and Owner of Monday Wash Furniture

    An Interview with Glenn McAllister of Fortner Inc. on expanding and hiring within the evolving landscape of upholstery service, training and employment.

    Right now, upholstery is like a bag of chips we just keep shaking for a few more crumbs. – Cynthia Bleskachek, Master Upholsterer, Upholstery Educator, and Creator of the Funky Little Chair Upholstery Education Systems, on Instagram 8/28/22

    Once upon a time, that bag of chips was full. Back in the day, “reupholstering furniture was the norm,” explains Glenn McAllister, Project Manager at Fortner, Inc. in Columbus, Ohio. “Then the influx of furniture from overseas changed the landscape.”

    David Fortner began his upholstery business nearly 100 years ago, going from door to door to offer his services. David, who was unable to hear, taught his son, David Fortner, Jr., the art of upholstery and the two worked side-by-side in their garage with David Jr. serving as the “mouthpiece” for the business. The elder David was otherwise employed, at first, and the younger still in school, but it was soon clear that there was sufficient demand for the pair to take on upholstery full-time. Today, Fortner, Inc., which remains a family owned and run business, thrives as one of the largest upholstery operations in the State of Ohio. Housed in a 60,000 square foot space in a 240,000 square foot complex dubbed “The Fort”, Fortner, Inc. employs “a team of master craftsmen to build and upholster pieces the old-fashioned way” honoring the “same core values since day one”: real furniture, good people, and focus on the client. Fortner’s website details the above and proudly declares the following: "While we’ve evolved throughout the years and now serve some of the biggest names in business across the country alongside our residential clients, one thing hasn’t changed: We’re still family-owned and -operated - guided by the vision of David (Sr.)’s great grandchildren."

    For Glenn McAllister, Project Manager at Fortner, joining the family and joining the business went hand- in-hand. Glenn began dating David Jr.’s oldest daughter, Sharon, in high school and it wasn’t long before he started doing deliveries. He continued to help out around the shop through college, eventually apprenticing under his soon-to-be father-in-law and developing a lasting love for upholstery work as well for Sharon and her family. When Glenn and Sharon became engaged, their discussion about the future naturally included staying with the business. Their son, Justin, became an upholsterer and now owns the company as well as the building complex which “leases iconic spaces to organizations of all sizes and specialities, from creative studios and local start-ups to retail businesses and large-scale manufacturing.” Glenn’s and Sharon’s daughter, Monica, oversees business development. And, on any given day, you are likely to find the couple’s grandchildren mowing the lawn around The Fort or tearing down in the shop.

    Fortner Inc. employs 41 people, just about half of whom have some degree of skill in upholstery and all of whom are considered part of “the family”. Staff retention is high with several employees in their third or fourth decade of employment, a few of them approaching retirement and leaving shoes to fill. Filling those shoes can be a bit of a challenge. Just as reupholstering was once the norm for consumers, the apprenticeship model was once the norm for education and succession within the trade. One became an upholsterer through years of intensive on-the-job training and then taught others in the same manner. There was high demand for reupholstery and, therefore, for skilled upholsterers - and there was supply. The bag of chips was full.

    But things change. Cultural, societal and economic norms shift. Expectations regarding education and the definition of success shift. People want things and they want them now. People move from job to job, sometimes a dozen jobs in a lifetime, and move often. Moving furniture starts to feel cumbersome. It seems to make more sense to purchase transient furniture. To discard it and start over when you move. To discard it and buy more when you want a change. Heirloom furniture gives way to “fast furniture” largely manufactured and shipped from overseas. Our landfills rise as expectations and demands regarding quality fall. Welcome to the new normal.

    Within the new normal, the traditional apprentice model is adrift and possibly drowning. In past decades, without the benefit of formal training academies (such as exist in Europe), upholsterers in the United States learned the craft by apprenticing in shops. While demand for reupholstery was strong and steady, shops could support this model. As demand for reupholstery services declined over the years, many upholsterers aged out without successors and shuttered their businesses. Then, the pendulum swung and demand began to increase again for reasons ranging from a reemerging longing for quality to concerns about environmental sustainability. (Recently, the Covid-19 lockdowns gave that pendulum an extra shove as so many people reconsidered their living spaces.) As a result of these shifts, the upholstery shops that remain are fewer and farther between: some struggling to stay afloat, some (particularly solo enterprises) overwhelmed by the demands of the now increasing number of consumers who value and desire reupholstery services, some pivoting to new business models – and many encountering real challenges to making the apprenticeship model work. Apprenticing new employees is seriously time and resource intensive. It may feel like an unwise choice, or even an impossible burden. So how are these shops to adapt and stay viable? To grow? To continue through the next generation?

    Fortner, Inc. is among the shops that have pivoted and adapted with great success. As reliance on residential reupholstery became less and less sustainable, Fortner started reaching out to corporations, hospitality, etc. “That resulted in a pretty big stream of business,” says Glenn McAllister who describes business at Fortner as “a three-legged stool” comprising traditional reupholstery, custom upholstery of new pieces, and production upholstery/reupholstery. “Commercial custom (for example, producing dozens of the same item over and over again for corporate spaces) is the real bread and butter now,” he says. “Reupholstery is about 25% of what we do currently, and the rest is commercial and custom.” This shift has necessitated an increase in new hires to accommodate production requirements. At the same time, the reupholstery staff is aging. “I would love to have two more quality upholsterers to support, and eventually replace, our older upholsterers,” says Glenn.

    Fortner has employed the apprenticeship model to meet this need with varying results. The shop is divided into three sections, one for each of the legs of the three-legged stool. “Production does 50-75 pieces at a time for casinos, restaurants, etc. and requires a more limited skill level,” says Glenn. “We’re constantly working with what we’ve got so, occasionally, if we have an emergency, we may move someone over from production and teach them what we need them to do in reupholstery.” This is accomplished through one-on-one mentorship. It’s difficult to anticipate emergencies, so “we put together an apprenticeship program five or so years ago with one upholsterer who was willing to teach four men from the production side.” Of the 4 starters, only 2 became members of the team. “It’s difficult to identify the right teacher and the right students and it’s very time intensive and costly,” Glenn explains. The teacher sacrifices time otherwise dedicated to upholstery work to accommodate the instruction schedule, and there’s no guarantee it will pay off.

    A more successful approach, for Fortner, has been to hire a recruiter who scours the country to identify and entice already skilled upholsterers to relocate to Columbus, OH. “We’re looking for more than an upholsterer, we’re looking for a good fit,” says Glenn. Every member of the team is unique and brings something to the table. Last year, the recruiter found someone in Florida who had a lot of experience in custom within the yachting industry who was looking to move.” The recruiter also identified a husband-and-wife upholstery team who wished to relocate from North Carolina. “It turns out they have a son who may want to come out and work for us as well,” says Glenn. “There’s always room for another set of skilled hands.”

    When asked what is needed to support growth and development of businesses like Fortner, Inc., Glenn McAllister points to creating and strengthening connections amongst upholsterers in different geographic locations. Indeed, linkages amongst dispersed members of the upholstering community are key in today’s world and are a source of hope for the future in terms of both education and employment. There are, in fact, quite a few people working as, or training in various ways to become, upholsterers in the United States now. Many of these are “solopreneurs” who have scoured books and the internet, sought out mentors, observed webinars, taken classes when and where they could find them, and practiced, practiced, practiced to the point of achieving success. More and more, these successful entrepreneurs are reaching out to teach not only “newbies”, but also one another, as a gesture of support as well as a revenue generating aspect of their business models.

    Cynthia Bleskachek (quoted above), who is a founding member of the National Upholstery Association, has striven mightily to develop and realize her vision of an apprenticeship network that works in today’s environment. As part of this endeavor, she has created incredibly organized and well-supported training systems (including detailed written and video support materials and one-on-one coaching from instructors) that have been implemented via the internet, and in person. Kim and Bill Chagnon, of Kim’s Upholstery Education, have created and implemented an upholstery education membership group through which those seeking to learn can avail themselves of myriad instructional videos and receive direct support and advice via Zoom and community forums, as well as participate in workshops hosted around the country. Talented solo upholsterers like Rhonda Shanahan (The Whimsical Chair), Nancy Sargent (Cobani Bleu) and Claire Wright (Cosecha Textiles) are teaching in their own shops and/or in host shops across the country. Additionally, some upholsterers are forming/joining business support and accountability groups through which they share knowledge and expertise with one another on a variety of levels. (I am fortunate to belong to an excellent group led by Michelle Minner of Blue Roof Cabin.) The landscape has changed, but it has certainly not gone fallow; It is actually quite robust and, little-by-little, coalescing to form a new normal that is, perhaps, not so bad.

    “People are connected and working together,” notes Cynthia Bleskachek in a follow up post on Instagram (8/28/22). “…upholsterers were historically difficult to find and even harder to engage. Not anymore – they are linked and discoverable, a far more fertile landscape for change to take root.” The National Upholstery Association has proven to be an invaluable resource for facilitating such linkages. And I can certainly envision a scenario in which shop owners currently stretched too thin to apprentice new employees might be able to make that leap by incorporating some of the incredible training resources that have emerged recently, including those mentioned above. Today’s upholstery community is shaking things up - and those crumbs that have shaken out just may form a trail that can be followed. A new, as yet emerging, path of training leading to employability that prepares budding upholsterers to join the trade through multiple linkages with more established upholsterers, including enthusiastic educators - and excellent shops eager to hire, like Fortner Inc. in Columbus, Ohio.

    Wouldn’t that be all that and a bag of chips?

    Fortner, Inc. Recruiting Video:


  • August 15, 2022 1:00 AM | Harmony Maraldo (Administrator)

    By Rachel Fletcher

    The National Upholstery Association was invited to show at the Furniture Manufacturing Expo (FME) for the first time this past July. Our purpose for attending was to connect the gap between the upholstery world, manufacturers, and software makers.

    This year, the National Upholstery Association proudly sponsored the Upholstery Track educational program at the event. Both Lewis Mabon and Carla Pyle taught seminars while Harmony Maraldo facilitated the panel discussion, "Continuing Upholstery Training." 

    Lewis Mabon offers a presentation in the Upholstery Track educational program.
    Lewis Mabon offers a presentation in the Upholstery Track educational program.

    Over the two day event we saw quite a few National Upholstery Association members: Marta Powers of MartaPOW LLC, Riana LeJeune and Justin Copeland of Repinned Upholstery, Laura Archer of Ladysmith Furniture and Carla Bluitt of Crest Leather. Booth hosts in attendance were: Lewis Mabon (Board Member), Keith Fuller (Board Member), Rachel Fletcher (Board Member), Carla Pyle (Past Board Member), Harmony Maraldo (President) and Leslie Hug (Volunteer).

    Marta Powers and Rachel Fletcher pause for a photo.
    Marta Powers and Rachel Fletcher pause for a photo.

    You can learn more about the FME here:

    Harmony Maraldo and Carla Pyle hold down the NUA booth at FME.
    Harmony Maraldo and Carla Pyle hold down the NUA booth at FME.

    The National Upholstery Association booth at FME 2022.
    The National Upholstery Association booth at FME 2022.

  • August 03, 2022 4:00 AM | Harmony Maraldo (Administrator)

    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.

    Group Photos

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