Tag Archives: take up new interests

Project Finished! New Creativity After 60

Look at this amazing purple beast! The final result from my beginner’s stab at upholstery.


Here’s the shabby, dishevelled item it used to be – some transformation, eh!

A chair in need of re-upholstery

Before, it was hidden away under a blanket, too tatty to see the light of day. Now, I drag people off the street to admire it, and every morning take my lovely new velvet brush and perform the satisfying ritual of pile-alignment .

My only problem is that people, and cats, are drawn to it like a magnet – they want to sit on it, for heaven’s sake!

Happy with my creative project, I did learn that I am not a born upholsterer. Tools and I don’t really get on. Tacks and nails fall out or go in on the wonk. I’m too scared to cut. The best bits  were anything to do with fabric, smoothing on wadding, stitching a horsehair lumbar support with string.

None of that mattered though, because I was so well taught by Libby at Bungay upholsterers Perkins & Gibbs.  That woman has the glorious knack of the born teacher of enthusing, demonstrating  and quietly helping (a lot!) so that any hapless student who has bitten off far more than she can chew still ends up full of a sense of achievement.

The real joy, has been in working with others around, all of them are grappling with their own projects.

Even more fun than the process of bringing my weary old chair back to life has been the pleasure of being in the studio amid the quiet buzz of talk and banter, with the interesting people who go there, the dogs who wander in and out, the swags of fabric hanging up, the air of creativity, the sense of connection that Libby and Tam create.

That studio’s a life-enhancing place and I quite fancy upholstering my entire house now, just so I can go back there every couple of weeks for another dose.

It’s great to take on long-neglected creative projects now that there’s a bit more time in life, and some can even be tackled alone. But what I learned this time round is how much more enjoyable it is to go and share the whole thing with a bunch of people who, just at the moments when I was thinking anxiously, this is very purple, had a knack of saying – gorgeous colour.

Do you get a tingle of desire at the thought of making something? Got a project you want to start? Where does the joy lie in creativity for you? Do comment in the box below. And if you enjoy exploring the ins and outs of life beyond 60 with us, enter your email in the box up at the top of the page and you won’t miss a thing. 

Finding Time To Blog After 60

Time starts behaving very strangely when the familiar old constraints of job and family weaken their grasp or disappear entirely.

It is more than easy to drift through the days, mooching round the garden, turning out drawers, fiddling about on the computer, seeing friends, reading in the morning – I know, outrageous – and so, time sifts away.

It is an incredible privilege to be able to drift through the days for the first time ever since I was packed off to infants’ school aged 4. All those years under the cosh of the timetables, working hours, deadlines and routines.

It’s time to break free.

But to create Beyond 60 and do it well needs time, not drifty time, but focussed creative time.

I want to do it. The idea fires me up. Yet time is slippery, and elusive.

Here’s how I’ve managed to grab hold of a bit, and use it to make something happen.

The 10-minute trick
Snip out a 10-minute segment. Set a timer. Give that 10 minutes full attention and go like the clappers until ‘Brrring!’ – time to stop, but I nearly always keep going. And if I don’t, well, even 10 minutes is worth doing.

Use the right label
When I call my blog ‘work’, I feel ill. Seriously, my chest feels tight, I sit rubbing my forehead saying ‘ergh…’ and I do not feel at all well.

When I think of it as messing about with my blog, doodling with a few ideas because I feel like it – then it’s smiles all the way and a couple of hours gone by, and I walk away saying, ‘that was FUN!’.

Drop the deadlines
I’ve got a blog vision but there’s no rush to get there. One step at a time is all it needs. Keep doing it and don’t give up. But no self-flagellation, please. An hour here and there is ample.

Stop should-ing on myself
When the gremlin voices point out that I ‘should’ be: posting more often, conquering WordPress, making it look prettier etc et-flaming-cetera I offer them a two-word response, and get back to playing.

Experiment with resistance
Whenever I think I can’t be arsed, it’s too much work, no one will read it and so maybe I won’t do it – that’s the time to dance with resistance, play with it, tease it – do anything that’s light and fun to overcome it and use it to catapult me into something new and different.

I love these little tricks because they feel radical and completely opposite to the way I used to work, when work was what I did. And they make blogging feel exciting and fun.

Brrring! There goes the timer.

But before I go, do any of these ideas appeal to you? Have you any tips to help find time for precious creative projects? Please leave a comment below.

New Creativity Beyond 60 – Learn Upholstery

A chair in need of re-upholstery

This chair had bugged me for years. Threadbare, the stuffing hanging out, it looked pathetic. But it had a lovely shape and was so comfortable. All it needed was a spot of loving care.

‘I’ll re-cover it,’ I said.

I didn’t.

20+ years passed. The chair lived in the spare room, and then as the children grew it took refuge in a teenager’s bedroom,  buried under a sea of discarded clothing.

Even when the child was long gone, the chair stayed in her room, dusty and unloved, a reproachful un-begun project.

Impulsively one day I dragged it downstairs, tucked a blanket over to hide its shameful state, and placed it by a window in a perfect spot for a morning coffee. And there it stood, for another 18 months.

Somehow I couldn’t bring myself to start the rescue job. I was game to tackle it, but doing it alone? In the quiet house? Not fun.

YouTube? Or a teacher?

And that’s how my chair and I came to spend a morning down among the cornfields, in a warehouse near Bungay in deepest Suffolk, where upholstery happens under the expert guidance of Libby and Tam, two young professionals who met at upholstery school and set up business together as Perkins & Gibbs.

Giving it some welly with the tack-lifter

Giving it some welly with the tack-lifter

I’m set to work by Libby. ‘Get that old cover off, and let’s see what we’ve got.’

To my surprise, I love the hammering. It’s great to use my body, feel the strength of my hands, and give full concentration to prising those stubborn gimp pins OUT.

Assured and confident, Libby has a passion for bringing dishevelled chairs and sofas out of ruination and back to a state of beauty.  She peers at my chair frame, runs an expert thumb over it – I’ve missed a tack.

‘Get him out. Put the tack lifter just there, get it well under…push, push, push…use the mallet…if it doesn’t just lift out, tap down… There!’

It is so much more enjoyable to be guided, taught and inspired by a real live teacher, than to follow a video on YouTube. To share the pleasure of a tack well-lifted, and the careful process of restoration. And it’s stimulating to work with people who love their craft.

Making a thing of beauty

With a firm hand Libby smooths the calico firmly over the underlying wadding, caressing it into shape over the edge of the seat. ‘We’re going to add a lovely billowy layer of polyester wadding, like collagen under the skin [she was a beautician in a former life]. It’ll give the corners a beautiful rounded shape.’

Collagen may be seriously lacking under my corners these days, but at least I can make my chair invitingly plumptious.

There are 3 students in today, and with all of us working away there’s a good feeling of warmth and friendliness, coupled with a strong sense of purpose and creativity. I feel relaxed, at home. Nearby a puppy snoozes in a basket as its owner stretches an embroidered cloth on to the seat of the delicate bedroom chair she’s restoring. Each step is discussed and considered, and we offer opinions on each others’ work as we progress through the morning.

I’m brought tea, offered biscuits.  There’s a bit of chat, but never at the expense of the tasks in hand. Outside, seen across of the stable door, a peaceful cornfield stretches away in the sunshine.

Fabrics, with their glorious colours and textures, are exclaimed over and fondled like newborn babies . My chair will be resplendent in a bold choice of rich purple velvet trimmed with a soft orange braid. Both these colours echo shades in curtains and pictures in the room where the chair will live, which I’ve decorated freshly for this stage of my life.

‘I love the care you’ve taken to think this colour scheme through,’ says Libby and I feel as proud as if teacher had given me a gold star.

It’s about being inspired

I could have done this alone with YouTube and even made a passable job. Working here, I’m inspired and encouraged. It has cost me some money, but it’s saved me having to buy materials and tools, so the outlay is offset.

The real gain though, is in my mood of excitement and satisfaction as I drive away from the warehouse in the cornfield, until my next session when we are going to ‘tackle the back’!

And that is what exploring new interests is about now that I’m beyond 60 and am not in a rush.

It’s not just in the doing. It’s in the sharing.