The Wallace State Upholstery/Interior Refinishing program teaches upholsterers all facets of restoring and recovering furniture. Classroom and shop experiences are related to aspects of upholstering, including furniture, automobiles and even boats, as well as time estimation for a project, pricing and salesmanship. Instruction includes history and styles of furniture; installing, repairing, arranging and securing springs; filler, padding, and covering material; pattern making, cutting, sewing and trimming; outside coverings, cushion filling, tufting, styling and designing; buttoning, piping and wood refinishing. It is not uncommon for experienced upholsterers to work with antiques, but they may also make new furniture starting with a bare wooden frame. Upholsterers should have manual dexterity, good coordination, and the strength needed to lift heavy furniture. Math skills are important for calculating measurements and estimating project cost. An eye for detail, a flair for color, and the ability to use fabrics creatively also are helpful. Upholsterers also help customers select new coverings by providing samples of fabrics and pictures of finished pieces.

Jobs for those trained in upholstery are abundant. “There just aren’t enough people in the know to keep up with what needs to be done,” said Karan Smith, instructor. The primary forms of advancement for upholsterers are opening their own shop or moving into management. The upholstery business is highly competitive. In large shops, experienced or highly skilled upholsterers may become supervisors or samplemakers.

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Karan Smith, Department Head