Sunday, April 01, 2018

Changes... And One Last Upholstery Project

It's been a little while since I posted here, and I thought I should catch everyone up with what's been happening in my life lately. It's nothing earth-shattering or tragic, so there's no need to worry, but there has been one major life change that I wanted to share with my readers. The change has to do with my job/work situation, but ultimately it will affect the home renovations as well... for the better!

As most of you know, I've been working at an upholstery shop for the past 4-5 years. As of Jan 1st, however, I no longer work there. I don't want to go into too many details or in to too much of the drama that lead up to this, but ultimately it was not an amicable break-up on my employer's part, and I was left pretty sad about how everything boiled down. The primary reason I was dismissed was that the minimum wage was set increased to 14$/hour in Ontario, and my boss was not willing to pay me this new rate. I had been working for the past few years "by contract" (a fixed price on a "per project" basis) but the new minimum wage would have required him to still cover the new minimum wage based on hours worked, which he did not want to do. That was ultimately his choice, and I respect that, but some of what happened afterwards was completely uncalled for.

Anyhow, in late December, after I raised my concerns about the new minimum wage increase, he asked me to call him after the holidays to let him know what I wanted to do for 2018. I called him on Jan 2nd, and he expressed once more that he did not want to pay the extra hourly difference, which was what I had expected to hear. A few days later I received my unemployment papers in the mail from him. Up to this point, I thought everything was fine between us.

By chance, maybe 2 weeks after this, I heard that they were hiring where my dad works, so he put in a reference for me and after several interviews I got in! However, on the last week just before I would be starting, I still had to complete my 'back check' and there was a conflict with my last employer because I said on my application that I was dismissed, and he was saying that I quit. He refused to provide a release letter, and they had to call him directly. Apparently he was not very cooperative with the recruiter, and he made some derogatory remarks about me. Without mentioning what was said, I'll just say that I was shocked. Especially since it was coming from a man who was saying a few months earlier that he'd want to sell me the business when he retires. Lucky for me, because of the way my unemployment papers were filled out with an "A Code" (which means that there was either a shortage of work, an end of contract, or a termination), my recruiter believed my side of the story. I really don't know what I did to upset my former boss enough that he would try to sabotage a potential job offer. I would have been happy to keep sending him clients, and promote his business, but now I'm just left with an awful feeling about how I was treated and I just want to put it all behind me.

On with the good news! So what's this new job? Well, it's quite a departure for me, since it's in a completely different field and it's unlike anything I've ever done so far, but I think I will like it. It's customer service for a bank at a call centre. The call centre is just a few blocks away from my house, the pay is more than double what I made the past few years, and it comes with benefits, a pension, employee perks (free bank account, lower rates on products and other special perks), an annual bonus, and the people there are just wonderful. I'm currently on week 7 of 10 for the training (which is INCREDIBLY INTENSE), and it's going well. I've been on the phone for 2 weeks out of the 7 so far, and most of our clients are actually really nice and pleasant to talk to.

So yeah, a better job, paying a much better salary, will mean that I'll be able to afford more materials and supplies for home renovations! I might even be able to finally get a car. And maybe even a cell phone! (Yeah I'm one of those rare people who does NOT own a cell phone).

So all that said, I wanted to post one last project that I did at the shop, which was one of my chairs. This is an antique chair that I picked up shortly after I bought the house (so maybe 2010 or 2011). It was from a yard sale, and I liked the shape of it. The fabric wasn't great, but it wasn't too horrible either. I always knew that I wanted to redo it at some point, but it wasn't high on my to-do list. The old fabric was a sort of greenish yellow with roses, and there were a few light stains on it. I really liked the tacks on it, but not with this particular fabric.

About a year ago a fabric store went out of business and I was able to find a PERFECT fabric for this chair.





I'm not sure why there were extra tacks off to the side here:



Note faint water stain:


This is the back, which had two circular stains near the top. I tried cleaning these, which left an additional large circular water mark on the fabric.


Yet another stain:


A small chip in the wood. I decided not to repair it.


Starting to remove the back already shows that this is not the original upholstery, as there's a green fabric visible.


When I took this chair apart, I was really surprised to see that it was a fair bit older than I thought it was. I had assumed that it wasn't that old, and that it was maybe from the 1960s or 1970s, but it is probably closer to 1930s or 1940s. The original stuffing in it is straw and cotton!



Current covers and stuffing removed, showing what might be the original green fabric on the back rest.



This is a rather interesting looking pattern. It's a solid green colour with a pattern in it that shows up depending on the angle. The pattern is almost on trend with modern geometric prints.


The colour used to be more of a teal shade, but it has faded or become dirty from use. You can also see the original tacks.


It also looks like someone might have done some stain touch-ups to the chair since there is some reddish staining here:


The original teal-green can be seen here where it was on the inside. Also note how lumpy the top edge has gotten.




Green and mahogany have always been a pretty classic combo, even though this chair is actually not mahogany - just stained to look like it.


Here you can see the chair ready for upholstery. The original stuffing on the back has been readjusted, with new burlap, and new musin cloth. The seat base has been redone with new burlap, the straw stuffing was reinstalled and adjusted, and new burlap over this. Then the original cotton seat pad reinstalled/adjusted. Muslin was also added over the seat just after this.


I had ALMOST forgotten to take a photo of the seat base. The original front roll on this chair is actually a round wooden dowel, which was nailed in place (under the burlap). This is why there's no special front stitching on this chair.


Seat done.



Finished chair, with piping on the edges, and copper-bronze tacks.







Note how the pattern from the top roll continues down seamlessly into the second panel of the main back.


I'm thrilled with how this chair turned out. The colour matches my bedroom furniture perfectly, but it's also generic and neutral enough that it could go just about anywhere. The fresh upholstery adjustment and new burlap also made the chair much more comfortable to sit on.


Now this might be my last project from the upholstery shop, but it won't be my last upholstery project ever (as the blog title may seem to suggest). I still have at least 5 other chairs to work on. There's a wing chair that I got for free (I just need a fabric for it, and to refinish the legs), there's a pair of antique chair frames that need a complete restoration and all new historic stuffing, there's a lovely arm chair, and a few others as well. So don't fret. I'll eventually have a few more upholstery projects to share. I'm just not exactly sure when. I'l like to buy a half decent upholstery stapler, and an air compressor (which would be nice for air nailers and finishing spray guns as well). All in due time.