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Iain Stephens has more than 29 years of experience, in fact, a lot more, as his upholstery journey started as a youngster working alongside his Great Uncle and both of his Grandfathers, undertaking furniture restoration and the recovering of basic chairs. Upholstery started off as a way to supplement his income as a young undergraduate and then progressed into a passion that spans an enormous range of interests and experiences. Iain has lectured at the Universities in Taiwan and South Africa, and taught all levels of the AMUSF (Association of Master Upholsterers and Soft Furnishers).
Iain started his formal upholstery training in the UK, drawn by the magic of springs and traditional stitching. He started training, following sequential AMUSF courses, whilst being apprenticed under two French Master Upholsterers over a three year period. Such were his skills that he began to tutor year 1 & 2 AMUSF students in both practical and theoretical aspects of upholstery, whilst only in his second apprenticeship year. Iain also offered in-house courses including domestic seating, lampshades, headboards, and ottoman boxes. He really benefited from working in a commercial workshop that offered both modern and traditional techniques to meet the needs of seating and furnishings for restaurants, bars, and hotels as well as private clients.
After relocating to Oxford, Iain continued to teach the new revised AMUSF qualification levels 1-3 whilst undertaking extensive traditional upholstery work and training his own apprentice.
Over the years Iain has gained enormous experience in many aspects of upholstery, not least of which is his extensive knowledge of working with and restoring leather. He has experience in hand coloring and hide finishing for both new and restoration work. He has restored luggage fitting out interiors, stud work and has experience with creating and restoring a range of equestrian tack. His skills include riempie and cane work in conjunction with a passion for Cape Dutch furniture.
Prior to taking up his latest position as Senior Conservator and Restorer of Upholstery at the Royal Household, Iain worked within the Farley Conservation Workshops which are an integral part of the Farley group, which specializes in the hire of original antique pieces to both the film and television industries. Iain was responsible for all aspects of upholstery, both traditional and modern, from the frame up as well as the maintenance/restoration on all furniture acquisitions and furniture in the collection. He has experience in the conservation and restoration of weaving and embroidery, tapestries on both furniture and hangings, beadwork fur, and period clothing. Recently Iain has now been given the privilege to serve as an AMUSF verifier within the UK.