I have completed the first of the two year Traditional Upholstery course and I can not wait to go back for the second year. The course has been extremely informative with very practical learning set in a really relaxed space. The workshop has every possible tool you might need and when you combine this with a wealth of knowledge from Amanda, the course teacher, this is a wonderful course to do. Her experience and knowledge on the subject of antiques and restoration is vast and her passion for the subject is infective. The class is small and I have made some lovely friends over the last year, enjoying discussions on all sorts of topics over tea and biscuits. The teaching is relaxed and as mentioned above informal. We learn by doing and are each working on individual projects which inspires us each as well as showing our other classmates additional techniques and styles. I am already working with a couple of clients on smaller projects and hope to take on more throughout the second year as we move onto more complicated pieces. Traditional upholstery is a slow craft but extremely satisfying and I could not recommend a better place to learn than the School Of Stuff. Before signing up to the two year course I did a weeks project course at the school of stuff and this got me hooked. This is a great way to see if it suits you.
I've just completed year one of the two year Traditional Upholstery course and I've really enjoyed it. The tutor Amanda is incredibly knowledgeable about the history of furniture and upholstery techniques and she's very willing to share it. I really appreciate the conservators approach that she takes, going back to how the chair would have been originally upholstered, and replicating that, but learning when you can do things differently. Unlike other courses, everyone is working on their own projects, which I prefer and was one of the reasons why I chose this course. You learn a lot from comparing the different approaches to different chairs, and I think you get a lot more out of working on a project that you've selected yourself. The workshop is a wonderful relaxed environment, with tea and biscuits on hand and time to chat and learn from your fellow students, and I really enjoy being there. I had done a few evening courses with the School of Stuff before starting the course, but my confidence and knowledge have increased greatly over the last year, and I can't wait for year two to start!
I've done a number of courses at the School of Stuff and thoroughly enjoyed each one. Each course has been project-based, meaning that you only learn what you need in order to complete the piece you are working on, and that everyone in the class will be doing different things at the same time. It's a different way of learning, which takes a bit of getting used to, especially if you're more accustomed to formal "classroom" style teaching. But you learn at your own pace and it's perfect if you have a particular piece of furniture you would like to re-invigorate or are interested in doing something creative and practical in your spare time. The course tutors (Amanda and Sharon) are great - really friendly, patient, encouraging and knowledgeable. They manage to guide everyone in the class along, providing help and support when you need it and leaving you to get on with stuff when you need time on your own. The workshop is well equipped and there's a welcome supply of tea and biscuits for those moments when you need a boost.
I have just finished my First year in traditional upholstery and loved it. The class was informal, friendly and I have learnt so much from the teacher Amanda, and made some lovely friends. Amanda always went out of her way to make sure to teach us all the necessary skills we would need. I have already started working with private clients and definitely feel the course has given me the confidence and knowledge to do so. I am so happy to have done this course and I can not wait for the second year. If you are looking to learn traditional upholstery for a change in career or just to learn a new skill I would highly recommend The School Of Stuff!!
I've just completed the two year modern upholstery course (I have also done the traditional Upholstery course which I would also recommend!). Sharon is an excellent tutor and the course teaches you how to master sewing machine techniques as well as rebuilding chairs with foam / staples etc. I had never used a sewing machine before and it was great to learn how to make box cushions / piping etc. The course is project based so you get to work on a variety of chairs / footstools / bed heads and Sharon is great at letting you focus in on what interests you, one classmate wanted to learn buttoning techniques and pleating for head boards while I preferred to focus on chairs and also got to try working with / sewing leather. The atmosphere at school of stuff is fantastic and friendly and the fact that so many courses are going on is also great because you can sign up for extra one off classes but you also get to see various different projects (chair repairs / woodwork / upholstery) progressing which is great. I also went in for extra studio days and one week intensive classes to work on projects for friends to add to my experience. I would highly recommend it!
I've learnt so much over the two year course and it's been great. Amanda has such a wealth of knowledge, discovering the history of your chairs is great. The trips to the V&A and Geffrye were a great insight into the changing styles and manufacturing techniques. And if you are really interested there are plenty of week long intensive courses, weekend courses and also studio days you can sign up to get extra projects done. I have been working on various extra chairs for friends and family to keep practicing what I've learnt and to gain more experience. It's a lovely friendly atmosphere and I looked forward to my classes all week!
I went on this course having done a fair bit of DIY so was familiar with the tools. Through this course i found that whilst i was familiar with the tools i was not at all familiar with the skill of using them properly! Making the box over 12 weeks is a fun engaging experience and teaches you a handful of simple techniques and how to apply them to the task in hand. It has left me wanting to learn more and start my own projects. Peter was a good teacher. Quite"zen" in his approach and teaching style, he emphasises other important skills that are not in the textbooks, such as patience and rigour to get the best outcome. Thanks.
This was a very well-structured, practical and enjoyable course and I came away very satisfied with all I had learned and achieved over the 12 weeks (which included a break for half-term). The tutor has decades of experience as a top-level cabinet maker, yet was patient with and understanding of those of us who had barely wielded a saw up to that point. He introduced us to the basic and fundamental techniques we would be using (sawing, chisel-sharpening etc) and to the materials we would be working with. The project for the course was to make a traditional hardwood toolbox and we were able to practice making the joints required before being unleashed upon the actual materials we would be using. The atmosphere in the classes was always very friendly and relaxed and we were encouraged to work at our own pace and never rushed along to the next stage. Our group was of mixed ability, so some people progressed faster than others but no-one was left behind or floundering. We learned about sawing and chiseling techniques and used a wide variety of tools throughout the course. The project appeared to have been designed to involve the use of as many of the most common workshop tools as possible and the tutor was always careful to explain their uses thoroughly. I can recall using tenon saws, marking gauges, chisels, planes, coping saws, pillar drills, cabinet scrapers, sash clamps and a band saw amongst others. We were also shown how to use a table-mounted router to make some of the more complex cuts required. The course took place on a Tuesday night from 6:30 to 9:30 and was easy to fit around other work/life commitments. I had to miss a couple of sessions because of work and in fact I think everyone at some point missed at least one session over the course of the term. Despite this, we all completed the project and as far as I could tell everyone was very pleased with their end result. The tutor was always very happy to spend time with us individually to make sure we were progressing well and was unfailingly patient and friendly with us all. The pace of the work was always relaxed and informal, so you were able to sit and have a cup of tea and a chat at any time and complete the work at your own speed. At various points a lot of hard graft was required (for instance spending a good hour or so planing pieces of wood to length) which is all part-and-parcel of any form of woodwork. It could often be very therapeutic after a hard day's work to come and beaver away over some pieces of wood in the evening. I would reccomend the course very highly to anyone with an interest in making furniture as a hobby. No experience is required and you will learn a lot in a relaxed and friendly environment. The workshop is very well-appointed and there was never any lack of the required tools or space for everyone to work. It is about a 15 minute walk from Dalston Kingsland and Dalston Junction stations and next to a very good Indian takeaway for good measure.
The school of stuff is a fun and supportive learning environment, I learnt a lot on my traditional upholstery course and had a good time doing so - the teacher is very experienced, patient and my group were a pleasure to be with. The studio is well-equipped, light and airy, plus it's good to be in the heart of Dalston with lots of other interesting activity going on in other smaller studios in the building. The course is structured but with an informal and relaxed approach which suited me well (in hindsight, if you have the time/discipline, to repeat the exercises outside of the course while the instructions are fresh in your head it's good to do so in order truly embed them - like all courses it's value lies in what you personally make of it!). I would say that if you apply yourself, and make sure the tutor covers your groups' needs/interests (she's good in that way, flexible to try and accomodate students) then this is a significant stepping stone on the way to being a traditional upholsterer. The informal approach didn't suit everyone on my course, and occasionally was frustrating for me - everyone's timekeeping, including the tutors, wasn't perfect. Having said that however, the tutor does make time and listen to feedback so any issues are easy to address. The tutor also has a wealth of upholstery and restoration experience you can tap into, which adds an extra bonus layer to the teaching content of the course. In summary I'd say that the School of stuff is a charming, slightly eccentric but thoroughly interesting place to learn traditional upholstery, and there's a fab cafe almost next door!
I took two 3 hour per week evening courses at The School of Stuff in basic and intermediate cabinet making, each one just long enough for a simple but satisfying project. The first essentially covered dovetail joints in a simple but attractive small pine storage box, the second focused on mortise and tenon joints to make a strong and actually very stylish ash stool. The facility doesn't have the professional feel of a Further Education college workshop, but the bench and tool mix were perfectly functional if eclectic, and the two teachers I had were excellent. It wasn't intended to be course preparing me for a career, but it did fulfil my hopes for a small workshop based course teaching the use of hand tools in introductory cabinet making.