We feel strongly that we must protect traditional skills and the associated materials used, yet over recent years many college courses have closed, apprenticeships have disappeared, schools teaching less design & technology and these vocational skills have been undervalued. Where would be be if we had not learned to make objects, which then go on to teach us about our history and culture.
We also believe that our physical and mental wellbeing is much enhanced by taking time to learn, to be creative, problem solve and to just make things. That is why in addition to our day to day job of conserving objects on-site or in the workshop, we also decided to run bespoke courses in traditional furniture related skills. We run evening courses, 1 day courses, weekend courses and series of courses to build different skills.
Many of the courses we run are also booked by family and friends as presents for their loved ones and we are good at keeping a secret!
We much prefer to tailor courses to the individual(s) and the maximum is 3 people on each course. We take bookings for private courses including 1-2-1 tuition and also look to match individuals up to attend with people who want to cover related subjects and at a similar level. A few examples courses we have recently run at request of clients:
My boyfriend and I recently attended a 3 day course, in which we worked exclusively with Bill to complete a project of our choice.
The course was comprehensive and completely tailored to our needs. Bill worked incredibly hard to plan activities/tasks each day, ensuring that we were able to fit in as much as we could, whilst remaining flexible and allowing us to steer.
Bill is incredibly knowledgeable and a fantastic teacher. The course offered far more than we could ever have hoped and we have come away full of knowledge and enthusiasm!
Thank you Bill for such a wonderful course - we would book again in a heartbeat! (Emily: July 2018)
A brilliant course, Bill the tutor is highly skilled and is a fantastic tutor. He is very knowledgeable and guided me through all elements of upholstery from Making reusable templates, woodwork and construction of frames to buttoning and the final upholstery. I really enjoyed myself and feel ready to make more! A great course and great value for money. (Molly: June 2018)
Perhaps you like upholstery but want to learn more about frame repairs and consolidation and surface finishing, or maybe you want to learn a completely new skill one evening a week. Maybe you have considered a hobby like wood carving, upholstery or woodwork and want to dip your toe in the water before buying equipment. Maybe you want to attend a 'taster day' and try a few different skills. Maybe you just want to relax from your day job, working creatively with your hands and head is such a rewarding process and one that is fast disappearing from our daily life.
If you are interested in discussing a course or making a booking, please email or phone.
The daily rate for an introductory 1 day course in upholstery, woodwork, restoration or carving is £149 per person based on a group day. This includes basic materials and vat. For more project based courses, any significant materials will be extra and discussed when the project is assessed before the course starts. Courses generally run from 9.30am until 4.30pm.
Contact to discuss rates for 1-2-1 tuition and also discounted rates for booking more than one day.
Evening courses are run from 6pm until 9pm one evening a week for either 5 or 10 weeks. If you are interested in attending an evening course, please email for details.
To book a course a 20% non-refundable deposit is required and the balance paying no later than 4 weeks before the course start date.
Our courses are advertised on Craft Courses UK, please visit for further details including reviews/feedback. https://www.craftcourses.com/courses/furniture-restoration-and-related-skills-at-craven-conservation-restoration-in-newmarket-suffolk
The courses are run in a well equipped and safe workshop in Newmarket, Suffolk and our goal is to ensure you learn and have fun. Our first question to you is always to ask 'what do you want to get from the course?' We can then do everything possible to deliver that for you.
That is really up to you to take that first step and contact us. Tell us about you and what you would like to learn. Is it an Introduction to upholstery or an Introduction to woodworking, General Restoration or Box Making? Many of these subjects can be adapted to suit your requirements, for example, box making can include marquetry or general restoration can focus on an area you are particularly interested in. With prior agreement you are also able to bring a project in to work on.
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Can I attend a course if I am a total beginner?
The easy answer to that is yes, we all have to start somewhere and we will teach you the basics and make sure you are with others of a similar level. We operate in a positive, supportive and informal atmosphere. Our beginner courses are designed to give you a good foundation to build on and we look forward to welcoming you to the workshop.
Is the tutor qualified?
Yes, the majority of courses are run by Bill who is fully qualified from City & Guilds (Cabinetmaking, Upholstery and Surface Finishing), then a BA Degree in Furniture Restoration through to a Masters Degree in the Conservation of Historic Objects. Occasionally if a client requests a tuition on a particular area, Bill may bring in a specialist to ensure you get the best tuition.
Can I bring my own tools?
Firstly you do not need to bring tools as the workshop is well equipped however by prior arrangement this can be done. This can often be an ideal time to teach tool sharpening using your own tools so you can get the most from them in the future.
Can I bring in a project to work on?
Again we want you to get what you want from your tuition so yes. We would want to see photos and agree the project in advance though to ensure it fits in with timescales, physical space and to assess material requirements.
Can you design a course to cover a specific skill area I want to learn?
Yes absolutely, this is what we love to do. We will consult with you beforehand, design a programme and agree it with you. Please contact us.
Do you teach up-cycling?
As a conservator there is an interesting conversation to be had about the subject of up-cycling. We conserve and restore furniture and there is a strict set of ethical standards we work to regarding the history and integrity of an object. We are also accredited by BAFRA (British Antique Furniture Restorers' Association) and uphold their standards.
We do not teach up-cycling however many of the skills are transferable and If we can help someone to improve their skills and knowledge to help them in their own field, we are happy to do so. Woodworking, surface finishing and upholstery are all important skills. Another example is that we researched traditional recipes for Milk Paint, tested them and we can include this in technique in courses, this is passing on a techniques that originated in Ancient Egypt and the term milk paint today is often applied to paints which are not technically milk paint.
The course is a gift for someone, do you do gift vouchers?
Of course, we will invoice you for the course and you will have a record that the course has been paid for. Should you require it, we can also email you a summary of the gift to give to the recipient.
We will keep adding to the FAQs as and when required.
Marquetry is a wide subject and so enjoyable. This skill can be used in areas like furniture restoration, designing & making and as an art form or hobby in its own right. We also do a box making course which can include an element of marquetry.
From a taster day for the total beginner to a more advanced woodwork course we can arrange tuition to suit your level. This includes looking at timber types, basic tools their maintenance and use. This then leads on to construction methods and joints, which develops knowledge and handskills.
The tuition is workshop based and hands on but we will stop at various points and look at some fundamental aspects of woodworking like, for example, securing your work correctly and clamping objects. This ensure that the muscle memory of working with your hands is regularly supplemented by technical knowledge.
A discussion on a course about the good and bad of marking out your work. These techniques and the level of accuracy is the key to a good standard of work, yet is often glossed over.
Tool knowledge and selection is an enjoyable area to explore. What do all the different planes do? What is the best starter tool kit? For a particular part of a project is there a tool that will do a certain job more easily?
Gaining confidence and having that sense of achievement is invaluable. Making something that you can take away or gaining a skill that will enable you to go home and make something should not be underestimated in this buy and dispose of it society. Once you have that skill, it cannot be taken away and it opens up many other opportunities for you.