Cape Cod Upholsterer celebrates 40 Years

I started as an apprentice when I was sixteen. At 56, I’m celebrating my 40th anniversary in the furniture upholstery business. For thirty two of the years I’ve been self employed and for twenty seven of those years here on Cape Cod. It’s hard to believe how the years have gone by so fast.

A lot has changed. No more spitting tacks, it’s staple guns now and that’s good.  No more stopping at phone booths to call a customer, now just pull out your mobile device and that’s good. It’s harder to sell fabric now, most people want to supply their own. Good for the customer but not so good for the upholsterer.

The biggest change in forty years for my upholstery business is the Internet and the digital World in general. I now have a website that attracts just about all of my business. Cape Cod is quickly becoming the second home capital of the Northeast. With a Google or Bing search, customers from all over the world can find me and contract with me for their upholstery work. Amazingly, even local Cape Cod people find me from the Web.

And alot hasn’t changed. Upholstery is still kind of an ancient art.  Most of the upholstery tools I use today, I used forty years ago. The digital age is left at the door when it becomes upholsterer vs. chair. Getting in the shop and upholstering each piece to perfection, that’s still what it’s all about. It’s still about hand on.

I’ve upholstered a lot of pieces of furniture over the years and I have the sore body to prove it, especially my hands. But I have a few good years left before I move on to something new. Of course I have to find that new thing first.

The things I’ve enjoyed the most is the freedom of self-employment and the countless interesting and honest people I’ve met so far. So please, no one raise up a glass and cheer “Here’s to another forty”. Rather, “Here’s to the beginning of a transition, to new and exciting things to come!”

Cutting Cushions for a Perfect Fit

I’ve been cutting, sewing and stuffing cushions for more years than I’d like to mention and I’m coming from an upholsterers standpoint in this article. Getting the perfect fit every time is important. The easiest way to get a perfect fit is to start with a template for a piece that may have angles and curves or the exact measurements for a piece that is square or rectangle.  It may sound elementary, but many times a customer will come in with just the foam and want me to make a cushion without measurements or a template. You simply can not get the correct fit that way.

One method I use in the upholstery shop when I’m cutting cushions for an upholstered piece I’m working on is to remove  the top of an existing cushion that fits properly and steam it back to it’s original shape for a template. I do this mostly for back cushions. I generally like to start off with a new template for seat cushions.

The perfect cushion starts with the perfect cut. The perfect cut starts with a perfect template or measurements.

Remembering Tony Curtis

I grew up watching Tony Curtis movies. His eyes, his voice, his posture, always made him bigger than life to me, especially as a kid. I’ll remember him with the warmest of memories.

As an upholsterer on Cape Cod, I’ve had the pleasure of knowing and working with Leslie Curtis and her husband Don, as well as Ben Curtis, Leslie’s son. Leslie had a Interior design business here on Cape Cod for many years, but has recently moved the business to Camden Maine. Tony Curtis was truly an iconic figure to most of us, but to them he was a husband, father and friend. I wish them the best and offer my heart felt love.

The Cape Cod Times has Printed an article from the Associated Press titled “Late Tony Curtis Had Cape Cod Ties“. I think one of the warmest obituaries I’ve read so far on Tony Curtis.

Apple iPhone App “Remote” for Music in the Upholstery Shop

I like to wirelessly stream music from iTunes on my iMac at home over to my upholstery shop about seventy five feet away. In the upholstery shop, I have a Bose Acoustic Wave connected to a wireless router called Airport Express. Airport Express uses software called AirTunes which lets my Bose connect to iTunes next door on the iMac. It’s great to have access to all my music in iTunes – all 38GB that will play for 8.5 days non stop, 27/7, no repeats.  The Con – You can only control iTunes from the computer, which in my case, is seventy five feet away in the house. A lot of running next door to play, change or pause the music.

Now one of my favorite iPhone Apps is called Remote, developed by Apple. With Remote installed on an iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad, you can control your iTunes music on your computer with an iPhone via your Wi-Fi network.  It’s a must have App if you’re steaming iTunes music from a Mac or PC to any pair of powered speakers connected to Airport Express with AirTunes. Remote is a cool App that works flawlessly.

To learn more:

Remote

Airport Express with AirTunes

Bose Acoustic Wave

Add New Life to Cane Furniture

Finding artisans to replace or repair the cane on furniture is is getting more difficult every year, especially here on Cape Cod. Making your cane furniture last as long as possible will save lots of time and particularly lots of money. On Cape Cod, to cane a simple seat can cost as much as two hundred dollars.

Cane is in the grass family, grown in moist soils, mostly in Asia. Like any grass, cane loves water and is naturally flexible.  Most cane seats and backs fail because they simply dry out and crack. Where you live and the humidity of your home has a lot to do with how fast or slow cane will crack.

Cane usually has two sides. The front is smooth and hard, the back rougher and porous. A few times a year, simply take a wet rag or spay bottle and wet the back side, the rough and porous side, of the cane.  Don’t be afraid to get it wet. You’ll notice the color of the cane will get darker as it gets wet.  Try not to let the water run onto the wood portion of the furniture. If it does, dry the wood right away with a dry towel. This “wetting” method works on both hand and sheet style cane.

Cane is naturally flexible. Keeping it moist keeps it flexible. Keeping it flexible keeps it from cracking. This simple procedure could double the life of your cane furniture.

Sunbella-Popular Fabric on Cape Cod

Sunbrella furniture fabrics are great fabrics to use here on Cape Cod. You can’t beat a 5-year limited warranty against loss of color or strength from normal use including exposure to sunlight, mildew and atmospheric chemicals. Cape Cod has a lot of sun flooded 3-season porches and wet bathing suits-perfect conditions for Sunbrella. Sunbrella fabric does not promote growth of mildew, but mildew can grow on dirt on it’s surface. So keeping Sunbrella clean is important. Vacuuming and spot cleaning with luke warm water should be enough to keep the fabric clean. But for stubborn stains, a bleach solution can even be used.

The Sunbrella fabrics I sell more of at Cape Cod Upholstery Shop are from the  Sunbrella Furniture Fabrics fold out sample card. The card contains canvas, specialty weaves, stripes, jaquards and textures. All of them retail for around $37.00 per yard. I just received the 2010-2011 sample card and it has lots of new samples. Sunbrella can easily be incorporated into the living room, kitchen and  for window seats.