Mary's Chairs is a Creative Workshop specialising in upholstery,

sewing courses and friendship through

 fabric, creativity and tea and biscuits.

Mary Cowdry - How it all began:

The story of my chair-

My first encounter with upholstery started in 2009. We were about to buy a new house, and in the garage was a 1930s rocking chair covered in a brown corduroy with palm leaf design. I fell in love with the chair and visualised it resplendent in a new cover; the curved wooden arms cleaned and polished, the rocking mechanism oiled and smooth.


I didn't have the first idea how to go about the transformation; I had experience of curtain and cushion making but had no experience of upholstery. The chair was so full of promise, I was afraid of making a botched attempt at re-covering it; I knew nothing of upholstery fabrics, stuffing materials or the tools required.


The chair remained in the garage.

 I bought a basic set of upholstery tools and set about the re-covering of our dining room chairs. It didn't take long for me to realise that there was more to upholstery than fabric and staples.


The chair remained in the garage.


 Time passed and we were moving again, the chair was discovered among all the other garage occupants gathered over the past four years and I was reminded of my desire and failure to do anything about it’s renovation.


I resolved to act; I found an evening upholstery group held in a village hall and took the chair along once a week to start the restoration process. I soon learned that I loved upholstery, but also discovered that I wanted a more in-depth learning experience. I wanted to totally immerse myself in the process.

So, in March 2014 I started my first week at the Traditional Upholstery Workshop. I discovered within the first couple of days that I wanted this to be more than a hobby and signed up to the Business diploma course. I set up a modest workshop and spent most of 2014 training and working on small commissions. In 2015 my business had been running for a year, and I was moving to the Sylva Wood Centre into my new larger workshop. The Wood Centre had just recently opened and we were about to take part in the Oxford ArtWeeks festival.

I needed something to exhibit, and decided it was time to finish my chair. I had bought some beautiful but what then seemed hideously expensive fabric (not quite so hideous now I discover) to cover my chair with and I decided it was time to finally commit. I returned to the Traditional Upholstery Workshop for a further weeks training and set about completing my chair.

The finished article was displayed and I received many approving comments especially regarding the stunning Melin Tregwynt Mondo fabric.


My chair represents many things to me: a past I want to preserve, a quality that is enchanting and the joy of discovering a craft and tradition that brings me such joy.


It now has pride of place next to my fireplace and my heart lifts whenever I sit in it.

Print Print | Sitemap
© Mary's Chairs