Thursday, June 3, 2010

Steve's Upholstery

{A Genuine Desert Experience}

P. and I got the name of a local upholsterer and were told that although both he and his sewing machine were of certain vintage he does the best work in the high desert and hasn't raised his prices since he opened shop in 1972. Sold. So we stuffed the enormous Scamp cushions into the Jeep and rattled down the network of unpaved roads past the foreclosed Tarbell houses, past the abandoned homestead cabins, past what I suspect might be an occasional meth lab, and finally, in the middle of a lunar landscape of sand and rock, we arrived at Steve's Upholstery: a network of trailers, outbuildings and a dilapidated old garage that proved to be a treasure trove of spools, bobbins and retro sewing equipment. Steve bought his Consew (a Japanese Singer knockoff) in 1972. He repaired it once, in the mid-nineties. "Still sings like a bird," he said.

Steve helped us choose a sage-colored heavy cotton duck cloth treated with teflon. Machine washable, won't shrink, stain-resistant, and hopefully light enough so that dog hair won't be egregiously visible but dark enough to handle the wear and tear of Scamp life. I'm thrilled about the cushions, but the real highlight of the whole experience was just shooting the breeze with Steve and hearing his stories about upholstering in the high desert for close to forty years. He's a hi-dez treasure if I ever met one.

Pictures shot with ToyCamera for iPhone, which I highly recommend. Mode: vintage warm. Vignetting: on.


  1. my parents own an upholstery shop outside of Seattle and these photos are making me homesick! though theirs is not as artfully cluttered and vintage, that's for sure.

  2. Amazing. I'm going to file away everyone of these treasures for when we move there eventually ;)

    And I'm still loving Toy Camera. Those are some great shots!

  3. Hurray for Steve! Love guys like this. I could use a machine like his too. Don't you love visiting places where people make things?

  4. I can't wait to see what Steve turns out.

  5. Love it. Maybe we should make the trek with our Craigslist couch cushions. Not that there aren't upholstery places in LA, but I suspect that the lack of character is joined together with a very high sticker price.

  6. For those of you with upholstery needs who want to make a desert adventure out of saving a little dough:

    Steve Potts, Upholsterer
    1075 Canyon Road, Twentynine Palms, CA

    Reupholstery, Repairing, Restyling, Slip Covers, Patio, RVs, Boats, Furniture Made to Order

  7. Tell Steve I'm a comin', with my Beverly Hillbillies-style rig piled high with projects for him....

  8. older dudes like steve are super cool...

  9. Lily, can you email me his contact info? We've got two chairs in dire need of reupholstering and have been waiting for the right person....yay!


  10. An old man in his shop he has had for years, cluttered with many a goody, is about the best thing I can think of.

  11. Spools and spools and spools and spools.


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