If you’ve ever wanted to know how to turn a battered old chair into something worth sitting on and beautiful to look at, you’d do well to truck on down to The Goodlife Centre near Waterloo.
With my newly acquired title of Craft Wrangler at Red Door, I thought it best I ‘skill up’ and get some woodworking techniques under my belt. I was so impressed with the Goodlife Centre website and the courses on offer that I booked myself onto their ‘Furniture Painting Techniques’ course. But I was happily spoilt for choice as they have a variety of classes covering basic woodworking techniques, hand caning, DIY in a day and even basic electrics.
This is not your regular crafting with cupcakes scenario, nor is it a boys-own fest of macho hobbyists – it is the wonderful happy medium of grown up classes covering really useful skills.
The venue itself is great – not huge, but big enough to accommodate a class of ten or so, with a nicely furnished chill out area near the front door and a second smaller workshop room. Even the toilet facilities have been thoughtfully furnished. The Goodlife is as good as its word, it’s a very positive place with a quirky DIY vibe – I liked it a lot.
Our host at the Centre was Alison who has an eclectic array of design skills and the Centre is styled and equipped to be the workshop of Alison’s dreams.
Besides creating beautiful objects at the Centre Alison also leads workshops, but for this class our tutor was Rebecca, a fully qualified painter and decorator with years of experience.
The great thing about this course (and all other courses at the Centre I suspect) is its hands-on practical approach – we were striping, sanding, priming and painting real bits of furniture and making real messes with real products.
The theory and products were explained clearly by Rebecca and we were encouraged to experiment with own samples such techniques as distressing, decoupage and graining along with skilful painting and the general approach to ‘sizing up’ a piece of furniture prior to sloshing paint on it – what does the piece say to you, how best to adapt it, might it be better left unpainted?
My only criticism is given the amount of techniques to hand and taking preparation and drying time in account, the day felt a little crammed – Alison and Rebecca are keen to impart so much knowledge.
I wanted to know so much about the Centre itself and the nature of Alison’s ‘sustainable ethos’ that I rather guiltily hung around at the end of the session as they cleaned up in order to fire a few questions.
I would find it quite an expensive undertaking to complete more than a couple of courses a year sadly – they don’t come cheap - but this is understandable given the expertise of the tutors and the variety and quality of the sessions.
And I learned lots ...