A week of options…

So this week has been back to work, and it would have been all to easy to allow myself to be fully consumed by the day job and lose the head space that the Christmas break has given me – but I didn’t.

I’m feeling really committed to upholstery as being the medium for my creativity. It should allow me to make something from scratch or resurrect something from the dead, it allows me to be the ‘specialist’ that I enjoy being and it allows me to be a part of the interiors world. Why I didn’t consider it before I have no idea – the seed was planted back in November when I met an upholsterer of a similar age to me (he was selling a house that my parents were looking to buy) and I had a light bulb moment. It wasn’t even as if he was selling it to me, in fact he didn’t really even talk about it, he just mentioned it in passing, but what he had inadvertently done was give me the idea that I’d been struggling to find.

Now all I need to do is work out if I’m any good at it! It’s a small technical detail, but at the point of writing this I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing. I did however see some really wonderful chairs and stools in a magazine this week that were just the kind of thing that I want to make. Brilliant.

I’ve established a few things – there is an Association of Upholsterers (AMUSF) who’s website has been pretty helpful. There are a few ways to learn the trade, you could take an NVQ or a City and Guilds approach, but for that you’d have to be working in the industry already. The AMUSF have accredited training centres where you could do a recreational course or an AMUSF qualification. Some colleges run evening classes or you could buy a book, some tools and have a go. This has been my main challenge this week – how do I go about becoming this brilliant, directional upholsterer who has amazingly stylish furniture photographed for magazines??

I’ve encountered a few obstacles too. It would appear from my research that the West Midlands is a black-hole for upholstery training. No evening classes, no accredited courses, nothing – so, I’ll have to travel whatever I do. Looking at the options further afield, evening classes are out because I can’t get there on time after work. Many of the specialist training centres offer great courses or qualifications, but most of them require 1-2 days per week classroom tuition on a weekday for 9-12 months and my day job has to come first. The AMUSF qualification is attractive, but it’s 6-7 weeks of classroom study in a 12 month period. I get less than 5 weeks’ annual leave from work. Oh, Did I mention the course is in Truro?

Undeterred, I have to decide on my approach and I want to come to a decision this weekend. I can either commit to a qualification which will use most of my holiday time for the next 2 years and cost me quite a lot of money or I can take a shorter course to learn some basics and practice, practice, practice!

The crux of the matter is do I need a qualification to become an upholsterer?