Doing traditional upholstery requires a lot more than just knowing how to use traditional materials and techniques! One must know about the origin and characteristics of the right upholstery supplies and where to source them.
Provincial Upholstery was opened in the Southern Highlands of NSW in 1994 by Carlos Rodrigues, however his experience dates back to his childhood in Portugal. Carlos has come to know the upholstery trade inside out and has exclusive contacts worldwide. His experience and knowledge has allowed him to source and import the highest quality upholstery supplies and materials from around the world, to ensure his traditional upholstery is the best in Australia. Together with wife Fernanda, Carlos has worked on various historic upholstery restorations over the space of many decades including work for the Historic Houses Trust of NSW, Government House, and Vaucluse House.
We are proud to offer trade access to our unique industry supplies including Mongolian Horsehair, European Flax Stitching Twine and Lacing cord and Jute Scrim.
Let us explain a little more about our unique and traditional upholstery supplies
Horsehair was used in upholstery centuries ago, well before springs were produced. Climactic conditions have huge effect on natural products. For upholstery purposes of stuffing/padding or bed making, the ideal horsehair needs to be thick. Thick horse hair can be found in parts of the world where climates are hard, cold and windy (so animals must develop a thick fur/coat for protection); places like Mongolia.
Traditional knowledge is strong and demand is still fairly high across Europe and the UK for high quality horse hair. The Horse hair we supply is processed in Switzerland having been sourced from Mongolia, North East China, even Kazakistan. Processing of the hair involves combing and careful cleaning from grasses and insects, and washing it at high temperatures (120 degrees Celsius). It is then plaited, and steamed in order to permanently keep the curls – which is what gives the spring effect to the padding.
Flax is a natural fibre that is used to create the highest quality stitching twine and lacing cord (much thicker) on the market. As discussed in our blog post about European Linen, Western Europe’s unique climactic conditions produce long, strong fibres which in turn produce high quality strong twine with a very high breakage point.
Linen/flax producers in other parts of the world are effected by different climactic conditions which are not as favorable to the growth of flax fibres. For example, flax plants that are grown in North Africa where the climactic conditions are dry and hot, produce a shorter fibre. When these fibres are processed into fabrics or twines they have a tendency to break at lower thresholds. This results in a poorer quality finished product leading many to turn away from traditional flax/linen. The alternative is polyester twine, and while there isn’t anything wrong with its use, Provincial Upholstery prefers to use high quality traditional materials wherever we can.
Jute Scrim is a derivative of a plant very well cultivated in India and Bangladesh. We use Jute Scrim sourced from India/Bangladesh in our work, as opposed to hessian, simply because its weave is finer. A regular weave will give a better and smoother edge when stitching horsehair.
Vegetal or as they call it, vegetable hair
This is a plant fibre used as an alternative to horse hair, which we do not keep in stock. It comes from a very small palm tree found in Morocco and processed in Europe for the furniture industry. Provincial Fabric House does not stock or use Vegetal as it is a fibre which is very sensitive to humidity. This fibre will also discolour to black, and most critically it absorbs an odour of mould making importation risky due to its necessity to be transported by sea.
Purchase our exclusive upholstery supplies, imported directly from the manufacturers by clicking the link below & visiting our shop. Should you have any questions about these materials, we welcome you to contact us.