A few perspectives from an attendee in one of our Hands-On Workshops

“I’ve been lucky enough to both attend and host Kim’s Upholstery Workshops and here are some perspectives on my experiences as an attendee.” – says Denise

The Golden Ticket – You’re IN!

In the story Charlie and the Chocolate Factory there is a scene where Charlie is sitting with his grandparents carefully opening chocolate bars and searching for the golden ticket to the Chocolate Factory. Remember that? My first Kim’s Upholstery Hands-On Workshop made me feel a little like I’d won the golden ticket. I danced around in the wee hours, thrilled about the opportunity. There are limited spaces, and seemingly everyone wants them. How do you get in? You register as soon as that window opens and you make a full commitment to attend.

Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory was one of my favorites as a kid! – Kim

Why Aren’t There More Hands-On Workshops? (I hear this all the time)

Hands-on workshops are H-A-R-D work for both Kim as the instructor, as well as for attendees. There is no downtime as the teacher with 6 students all eager to learn and get to the next step. While those of you who desperately want to attend a workshop wish there were more opportunities to accommodate everyone, the rigor of actually teaching each workshop, multiple times each season, in multiple cities, is exhausting. Realistically, the number of these workshops Kim can physically accommodate is limited. If you get in, be prepared to commit completely. If there is any chance you cannot commit, wait for another time and give someone else the chance.

Here is where Kim will be teaching Hands-On Workshops this coming year

Excitement and Anxiety
Every new experience brings excitement and some anxiety. There will be new people and a new place. What will it be like? Do I have everything I need? What if I forget something? What if I’m the only one on the struggle bus?

One of the absolute BEST things about a Kim’s Upholstery workshop is meeting new people, kindred spirits if you will, who bring their passions and their skill set with them. They are all feeling exactly like you are. You’ll be surrounded by people who want to talk about fabrics, furniture, upholstery, their hobbies, their aspirations, their experiences, what they need to work on, and what they hope to learn. It’s heady and delightful! If you’re like most students, you’ll find yourself all in, wanting to soak up your own experience, but also intensely interested in what everyone else is doing! You can learn a lot from everyone’s projects.

Showing up at a workshop committed to learning from Kim, and committed to going all in and connecting with your fellow attendees is a key to workshop success. Aspire to leave the workshop having learned something from everyone, and loaded down with new relationships to celebrate. 

Keeping an Ear Open While You Work
During your workshop experiences, you’ll find though you are focused on getting your work done, you’ll also be keeping an ear open for what else is happening with your new friends in the workshop. This split focus is also why workshops can be very tiring. You’re constantly processing input. There will be times when you’ll want to briefly stop what you’re doing and visit your friend’s workspace to have a look or a conversation about what your friends are doing. Your new friends might ask for help, or an opinion. Now and then, Kim will stop the action for everyone with an announcement like:

“Everyone. Come on over. I want to teach … show… explain … celebrate … ”

We all hurry over to see what Kim is pointing out. Even if you cannot use that particular skill on this particular piece of furniture, you’re hoping you’ll remember it for some time in the future. So …

Keep a Notebook during the hands-on workshop
Denise says she keeps a notebook at workshops. It can be small. It can be on your phone or a tablet. It can be on a clipboard, but designate a place for notes. (Also a good idea for Wednesday’s Live chat!) During the workshop, you’ll jot down things you’ve seen and heard, and any tips or comments Kim has made that you want to remember. (e.g. “You can find a video on invisible zippers in the membership under Tips and Techniques. It’s the Bergere cushion.”) Though we’re all exhausted at the end of a workday, and the temptation is to shower the day off and go to bed, taking time to jot down what you’ve seen and heard while it’s still fresh in your mind helps cement your learning.

Honest Feedback
There will be times during a hands-on workshop when Kim will say:

  •  gently
  • compassionately
  • humorously, or 
  • directly 

Try again.” or “You need to do that over.”  I know. **Sigh!** Ugh, however, this is what you’re paying for! A major part of learning is honest, actionable feedback. While we all want to hear Kim say, “Well done. That’s perfect! Great job!” realistically you can expect to hear, “Try that again. Do it this way. Let’s do this over”. These workshops are great places to celebrate learning but that celebration goes hand in hand with honest feedback. Honest feedback is where learning occurs. Expect feedback and embrace it when it comes. Doing things over also helps you to remember…. they are not mistakes they are learning opportunities!

Fresh Eyes and Good Enough
Many workshop attendees dream about their projects overnight. -“I dreamt about grain lines.” says Denise – The day before you’d worked so hard to get the wrinkles out of the seat that you unintentionally pulled the grain line off of being straight. “All night long, in my dreams, I saw this glaring off-grain velvet blinking wildly for the whole world to judge.” – says Denise

The next morning, you’ll look at your chair with fresh eyes. The concept of fresh eyes is the ability to look at your work objectively, removing the emotion, and simply assessing the piece as you would any other random, anonymous work. What do you notice? What would you change?

So when is good enough, good enough? These are the kinds of conversations you’ll have at workshops. The vast majority of “normal” people (e.g. non-upholstery types) will never notice it. While you’d be tearing that seat out and re-doing it if you were being paid for this job, that’s why I strongly suggest you do a piece that is for you. While attention to detail is one key to quality work, so is self-compassion and time management. Practice fresh eyes.

Workshops are a good place to learn new skills, receive honest self-assessment, practice looking at your work with fresh eyes, and learn where the lines are between a do-over and an unhealthy obsession. This is another valuable reason to attend a workshop if you can. (Have you had that one project that you took more staples out of than you put in?)

Are you excited to get started on your upholstery journey?

Preparing for one of our workshops by joining the membership is like preparing before a test. Watch all the basics and beginner videos and then dive into watching some project videos to get you ready for your Hands-on workshop experience.

See you on the inside, Kim