To carve or not to carve

It seems I am to carve bits for my armchair! It is missing the top crest and a small part on one arm, and my teacher says I will carve them… <gulp>

SAM_1384 SMALLSo I have glued the back frame together as well as the pieces that are to be carved, and I am very nervous about it. Having never done carving before, and having glued the required pieces in place already, I realise that there will be no room for error. I shall evidently practise before hand on a spare bit, but then, once I am onto the real thing, that’s it… no mistake allowed!


What concerns me is that when I started on that armchair, my teacher said that he can’t see why I wouldn’t be finished for the end of year show. The end of year show is in a month’s time and in that time, I have to learn how to carve, finish to repair the rest of the armchair, glue it back together and French Polish it as well as wax it… that’s a hell of a lot to be getting on and I am understandably very worried.

I have finished my presentation and am waiting for my teacher to ask for it, which should be either today or tomorrow.

I have to finish the hinges on the art deco cabinet but that shouldn’t take too long, and finish to upholster the seat on the little oak chair, which I am doing on Tuesday evenings and is going quite well, although I am aware that upholstery won’t be my thing.

The strain of the end of year is already starting to make itself feel. I seem to remember that last year, things became stressing and exhausting in June. People staying at college late, or coming to do their work extra days in the week… The teachers have already started to stay late to help the students… the end is nigh…

I am tired and I can’t wait for half term next week: BoyFriend and I are going to my dad’s and I intend to relax as much as possible before the final stretch for the end of year show.

So probably no blog next week as I shall be resting and relaxing and NOT thinking of college…


The problem with upholstery

I have never done upholstery, and so I was well pleased last week when I realised that I was going to do the seat for my oak chair because the upholsterers at college are too busy. I stayed late on Tuesday in order to join the upholstery class from 18:30 till 21:00. And I arrived with my frame and was informed pretty quickly by the teacher that ash wasn’t the timber to use for this purpose. I didn’t think of it at the time, but ash is a very hard timber. When I started to bang my nails into the webbing to be stretched onto the frame, it was so bloody hard I actually gave myself an ear ache from the loud sound of hitting the nails with the hammer. In fact, I banged so hard to push these damn nails in that one of the joints opened up, I had to reglue and reclamp it. Then I realised that the wood had split between 2 nails. Damn damn and double damn. In the end, I had to leave early as it isn’t possible to work on a piece that is being glued and which should be left to dry.

Nails! Nails! Nails!

Nails! Nails! Nails!

So I got home to nurse my ear ache and my poor fingers. Because I had taken about 2 to 3 hundreds tack nails (really, I am not exaggerating!), and the tack remover was so hard to use, I managed to hurt myself in the process quite a few times. Blood was drawn, tears were poured, swear words were uttered more or less loudly, … but I did it: most of the tack nails were removed painfully, except those that were so rusted they just broke as I tried to pry them off the timber.

Honestly, I am now actually admiring upholsterers: it is a damn tough job! Dangerous, painful and dramatic. And I can tell you something for nothing: I am NOT becoming one of them! J No offence to the upholsterers, but I was advised to take the evening class in upholstery next year so that I can do my own armchair after I have restored the timber. However after last week, there is no way I am going to put myself through that much pain! Not any time soon anyway. I feel I really need to focus on my plan which is restoration of wooden furniture. When I feel more comfortable with this, and when I have managed to make some money out of these new skills, perhaps I’ll consider paying for an upholstery class. But now is not the time.

So this week, I shall dismantle the armchair and start on restoring the timber. I wonder what will happen to the crest: the existing one was cut horizontally and so is missing. My teacher told me I can carve it myself… <gulp>… sounds exciting… but can I do all that before the end of the year?

Anyway, the good thing is that after pulling the armchair’s frame apart, I actually knew what to do to some of the pieces. Some joints need the glue cleaned off them, some pieces that are broken need glueing… I am more or less on a roll and very pleased with this… I am not as hesitant as I used to at the beginning of the year. Progress!


Shopping as a mature full time student

I used to love shopping at Sainsbury’s. I still do. I love getting Nectar points and then having enough to treat myself to something like a movie at the Vue Cinema. I used to be picky about where I shopped. Tesco and Asda were a no no because they are not in line with my ethics. They spread their tentacles in remote places and suffocate local businesses. They are so ambitious and greedy that they don’t care who they crush on their march to be the biggest supermarket in Britain. Equally they manipulate and monopolise foreign suppliers to such an extent that it leaves them with no choice but to stick with those super powers or go bankrupt. (Did you know that in some villages where bananas are grown, people think that Tesco is a nation? And so they receive the Tesco reps as if they were royalties!)

So when I lived in London, I stuck to Sainsbury’s for some stuff, but mostly to Lidl, which is cheap and stocks locally produced vegetables and fruits.

Problem now is that both Sainsbury’s and Lidl are not very close to me. The closest is Asda. And at my previous address, it was Tesco. So unfortunately, in order to save money, both in food purchases and in petrol, I started to go back to Tesco, which felt like a failure on my part. I had, before that, successfully managed to not set foot in a Tesco for about 4 to 5 years, which I was very proud of. So when I realised that my best option for cheap food not too far from home was going to be my local Tesco, I actually felt crushed! And today, at my new address with BoyFriend, my nearest and cheapest store is… Asda!

So I still go to Sainsbury’s for petrol and small bits (and nectar points!) as it is near work, I still go to Lidl from time to time as I can drop there on my way home from work, but when I need to do some serious shopping with BF, we go to the giant 24/7 Asda near home. And I am ashamed to realise that I enjoy it! It’s so convenient: it’s got everything in it that I need, some amazing special deals, and even a hoover that I am planning to get next week: bagless and for about £30!

Next week, I shall be making an appointment with Asda’s optician as I need a new prescription. And since they are NHS optician, I shall be able to use my HC2 form there for free NHS prescription and glasses.

It is all so convenient. And for someone busy, tired and almost penniless like me, it is very practical. Minimum petrol usage to get there, cheap food and stuff, NHS optician… it’s a no brainer…

My ethics are suffering as I still would prefer to go to local shops, or to the market… but these options have been eliminated due to costs to get to the market which isn’t close, and the lack of local shops.

In the meantime, I am working hard both at work and at college, paying bills, commuting heavily (£60 petrol a week!) and feeling so tired at the end of the week that I am grateful I can get all my shopping in one place close to home.

I started work on that armchair of mine last week, and what a job that was! It took me all day to strip it all to its bare essential, I had to wear a dust mask and gloves… and I now have to pull out all the nails, one by one, and there are a few hundreds!!!

My armchair

My armchair

SAM_1334 small 





After ripping the fabric

After ripping the fabric



I am going to do the upholstery on the oak chair myself as there isn’t anyone in the upholsterer class who has time to do that for me, which is fine because the teacher will guide me through the process. This means that I’ll have to stay late on Tuesdays for the Upholstery class, till 21:00. My presentation is almost finished. I now need to take some pictures and insert them in the document, then I should be finished.

Only a month and a half to go. Still so much to do…