Confessions of an Upholstery Apprentice 1

Tessa as a cake girl

Tessa Cooper as her sugar paste self


So after six years of working in public relations, event planning and production, and finally advertising, I found myself not really liking the marketing world. Oddly, it took doing what my degree was in, advertising, to realizing this line of work was not for me. I remember telling my soon to be manager at the ad agency during one of my interviews that I longed to produce something, whatever it may be, that I was proud of. At the time I thought that would be amazing ads that I, as the account manager, would help create. Unfortunately, I never found a interest in what was being produced, nor was I proud of the finished product.

During my interview with Spruce for the upholstery apprenticeship, I shared this goal and found lots of smiles and nods to this ambition that made me feel like everyone here had a similar wish that they saw come true daily. They also told me during the interview that this line of work would “ruin your hands” and I smiled and nodded back to indicate I was ready for it.

As I work through my first weeks of the apprenticeship at Spruce, I find myself both proud of the finished products I am helping make, and also devastated by the condition my hands are in from manual labor. Bye bye manicures for typing and taking diligent notes in client meetings – and hello stronger hands that create beautiful furniture!

LESSON OF THE DAY: It is OK to bleed on the burlap. It is NOT OK to bleed on the Schumacher fabric.

5 Responses to “Confessions of an Upholstery Apprentice 1”

  1. martha

    I just discovered your web site and blog . I am in love with all of you . I am an upholster and have been for twenty years . I have always been a little ashamed in some situations to admit what I do for a living . Saying I was a designer seemed to be more respected. I am a designer, but primarily I am an upholster. You guys put a new stereo type on our profession. You make it ARTSY, SEXY and WAY COOL!!! Love what you are doing you have inspired me to do the same . Hears to making being an upholster cool and respected by our snobby intellectual white collar friends.
    Martha @ A New Cover Nashville Tn.

  2. Jennifer Hamilton

    I am a non-traditional Interior Design Student who is about to graduate. I have been in retail management for 13+ years and I am ready to do what I was born to do… CREATE! I have been sewing for the better part of 30 years on top of other handywork. Upholstering is one thing I would LOVE to learn. I stumbled upon your site while “surfing” and I love everything you gals are doing. I hope one day I have enough courage and talent to be a part of a business or own my own similar to yours! Keep up the great works you all do!

  3. Kathleen Guess

    I quit teaching after 10 years last summer. I taught art for most of those years. I miss getting to make things, but I don’t miss teaching. I’ve been working for a local manufacturing plant (in the office), and I learned that the business world is not the one for me. I need to make things! I hope to find my own apprenticeship soon. So glad I found this blog! (Oh, and as an art teacher, you don’t get to keep pretty hands or clothes!)

  4. David Siewert

    I work in the area of workforce development for a community college system and I am trying to find out where an individual could obtain related instruction for an apprenticeship in upholstery. According to the federal department of labor, an apprenticeship for the occupation of upholstery is to be 2 to 3 years. Related instruction is supposed to be a minimum of 144 contact hours per year. Therefore, for an apprentice to obtain the necessary related instruction to complete his/her apprenticeship, the individual would need 288 to 432 contact hours of related instruction Any suggestions?

    • meredith

      Hmm, our own apprenticeship is a bit shorter and is with the intention of full time employment at Spruce. I don’t think we would quite fit your qualifications. You are right it is difficult to find upholsterers that are willing to take on an apprentice. The best luck our students from class have had (if they would like to pursue it further) has been to call around in your local area to see if you can find anyone that is interested in taking someone on. Since this is a niche trade it can be hard to find. I wish I had better advice for you, but that’s the best I’ve got. Best of luck!


Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>