Guest post from Kate’s Art Blog, dkatiepowellart.
I don’t enter many competitions, but the Sketching Work competition
for the Centre for Transformative Work Design out of Perth AU was easy for me
as I sketch our lives and work quite a lot, and was thrilled
to create a pen + ink + watercolor folded journal.
I kind of didn’t want to send it; the images were sweet.
I have never had an entry returned, but thankfully, when I lost,
they did the honorable thing and returned it!
The point of the competition was to tell the story of a workplace,
what it did and what made it a joyful place to work… Instead of assuming I knew,
I took Mitchell seriously as a subject and interviewed him.
The interview was sent separately, and is below:
Mitchell and I work together in our conservation firm,
MPF Conservation. Mitchell bought his brother-in-law’s upholstery shop at 23. Fascinated with traditional forms (unlike his brother-
in-law), he hired skilled European traditional journeymen to amend his training. Several men trained him to become the conservator of museum antiquities he is today. It was really fun interviewing Mitchell; some of the answers surprised me!
“I love uncovering ingenious historical fiber filled structural forms (sofas + chairs). I enjoy taking soft materials (hair, cotton, coir) and turning them into structural elements with proper flex, comfort, and decorative beauty. A bit like making a cake!”
“I love that each project is completely different; unusual objects walk in the door all the time! I work on a mid-century modern piece one month and a 200-year-old piece the next, tassels and fringe one week and a leather bellow the next.”
“Sometimes I wish I occasionally worked with other talented upholsterers for the camaraderie and swapping skills. It can be lonely working every day by oneself. Having the shop cats, good friends, keeps my heart happy. It is a perk of owning the business. They can’t always be in the studio — they are banned when we have museum projects, or if a client is allergic or if the show-cover is silk, though they have their nails trimmed weekly.”
* We are often in different rooms, and they are well-trained. *
“While projects last from 3-8 weeks, in each phase I’m doing something different. Woodworking, tailoring, hand-stitching, upholstering, and traditional finishes. The job is physically demanding, standing long hours, pulling heavy threads, hand-stitching, moving furniture, so as I get older, it can be taxing, but it also keeps me in shape!”
“Throwaway furniture has changed the demand for our skills, which means we must be competitive to obtain projects. “Average” folks don’t know that today’s “expensive” furniture is still shortly destined for the landfill. They don’t realize a lovely restored old sofa is less expensive than many they will buy & toss out within 2 decades! Our throwaway society has also made it difficult to obtain proper supplies in the USA; items are bought from France, Germany & England.”
“My most memorable project was conserving the Flemish Sofa that resides in the Hearst Castle Library. The most challenging was the first time I conserved an original mid-century Egg Chair by Arne Jacobsen ca. 1960… An engineering feat!”
(Flemish Sofa and Egg Chair! Guess I better sketch them soon!)
I am sending you to my page of the competition but warning you that unfortunately
the scanning process for my competition entry was incorrect.
If you look at other’s work know that this may be so for them as well!
The colors on this page are accurate.
I love my entry; I wish I’d won. Our journal now lives on in the reception area!
By the way, Kate is available
for hire as an artist!
Do you have an event or
keepsake or place you want sketched?
“Memory is more indelible than ink.”
Anita Loos, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.
“I think not….”
Me… why I journal!