Last Saturday was a happy day; my upholstery class ended, giving me back my weekends and I brought my chair home completed and comfortable, not perfect, but what is? And that description neatly sums up the class itself, which was frustrating in lots of ways but ultimately satisfying because instructor Robby, pictured above right, was able to guide me to a good result.
I was not Robby’s favorite student; he thought I didn’t listen and/or pay attention and I found his communication skills wanting. I’m a big picture guy, I need to be able to see far enough down the road that I know where I’m going but Robby insisted on riding the brake: “Don’t worry about that YET,” he would scold. “One step at a time, just go one step at a time.”
In the end, I felt a lot of empathy for Robby and a bit of resentment toward the Toronto District School Board, which runs the class without nearly enough resources. There was one sewing machine and three staple guns for 11 students. Madness. And of course, there was only one Robby, so as you’d complete each little step you’d have to wait while he checked in with 10 other people before he could get back to you. Fortunately, as the weeks rolled along, the number of students dwindled but the fact remained that between waiting for equipment and waiting for Robby, there wasn’t a whole lot of upholstering getting done.
Would I recommend the class? Umm, no. I would steer you towards a class like the one I took earlier this year at RE:Style Studio which costs a little more ($300 plus tax for two full days) but offers a lot more personal attention and instruction. I’ve also heard good things about Evelyn Bouma’s Creativity Classes.
And yet I did learn a fair amount as did my upholstering buddies Jay, above right, and Susan, below, to whom I am especially indebted for driving all the way to Etobicoke every Saturday morning and going out of her way to pick me up and drop me off. Thanks Suz!
I met some nice people and got to see each of them finish a project. Below, clockwise from upper left are Tony, Dina and Kathleen with their great looking results. Maybe the problem was my own expectations; Robby did the best he could under the circumstances and I thank him for shepherding me through to a satisfying conclusion. His company is Robby’s Custom Upholstery (1605 Bloor Street West, 416.614.7791) and he certainly knows his stuff.
Tomorrow, I’ll try and provide a bit more detail about the resurrection of my $25 Craigslist cast-off . . .