Quality and Excellence in Teaching is at the heart of our upholstery and soft furnishings training. We are a multi-awards winning training centre receiving several craft training awards for encouraging craft skills in upholstery and soft furnishings:
- Master Furniture Maker Certificate 2018
- Master Upholder Certificate 2016
- Marsh Heritage Crafts Training Award 2014
- OFSTED Recognition for Good Practice 2014
- Craft Skills Award 2013
- Worshipful Company of Upholders' Certificates of Excellence 2012
- Heritage Crafts Trainers Award 2012
- Outstanding Training Provider of the Year 2011
- Women in Furnishings Award 2010
- Hertfordshire Training Centre of the Year 2008
Wendy Shorter-Blake MBE for Services to Upholstery was received in the 2020 New Year Honours List. Wendy is also Master Elect of the Worshipful Company of Upholders (Upholder is the archaic word for upholsterers) and holds a Master Upholder Certificate. She is a Fellow and Director of Training for the Association of Master Upholsterers & Soft Furnishers (AMUSF), and a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Furniture Makers.
Wendy has been teaching upholstery for the past twenty years, initally at London Metropolitan University, formerly the London College of Furniture and West Herts College. When made redundant in 2006 Wendy used her redundancy money to set up this training centre. Over the past 15 years we have seen hundreds of students go on to achieve great things in their upholstery and soft furnishing careers, and is a passionate advocate for training in the crafts, sitting on various industry and government bodies.
Wendy has been the recipient of several awards and in March 2010 her book “Soft Furnishings: Professional Results” was published in 2010.
Wendy takes great delight in passing on these skills and celebrating the achievements of her staff and students.
Liz joined us in 2011 and is lead tutor of upholstery. Liz worked at the Tate Gallery before leaving full-time work to raise her family. She started training with Wendy Shorter in 2006 gaining AMUSF upholstery qualifications with distinction. In 2008 she launched her own upholstery business, Sitting Pretty, based in St Albans undertaking a wide range of traditional and modern commissions. It was a natural step to combine her 15 years of teaching experience with her knowledge of upholstery.
Taryn has a background in the motor trade, starting on the workshop floor up in her parents family business restoring and repairing classic Italian sports cars;
particularly enjoying working alongside her brother, 'Rorky' O'Rourke in the trimshop upholstering luxury car
In 2011/12 Taryn gained her AMUSF Stage 2&3 Traditional Upholstery qualifications with a double distinction, which she declares has quite literally changed her life.
Taryn now enjoys that life with a small but happily industrious upholstery business run from the purpose built pink 'Ladyshed' at the bottom of her garden, and a varied workload of both traditional and modern upholstery together with interesting and challenging automotive projects.
Sarah ran a successful medical communications business for more than fifteen years before looking for a new adventure offering practical skills and a creative outlet. After a term enrolled on our Friday upholstery leisure course, she quickly decided that Friday was the best day of her week and signed up for the full AMUSF diploma; passing all levels with distinction.
After qualifying Sarah started taking on private commissions as well as working part-time as an upholsterer for a busy independent company to broaden her experience and improve her speed. Having now completed hundreds of projects with modern and traditional fillings – from armchairs and dining seats through to sofas, piano stools and headboards – she wants to share her enthusiasm for the craft with the other students looking for new skills and creative inspiration.