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December 17, 2017
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Reuse, recycle, restore it!

Mark Weller, co-owner of Sterling Upholstery Co., Inc., is restoring a Victorian gentleman’s chair, circa 1880-1890.
Photos by Tammy Compton

By Tammy Compton

“Is it Monday yet? Can I please go back to work?” asks Judy Shaffer, emphasizing the word “please.”

For the past 18 years, Judy has worked side by side with Mark and Andee Weller, owners of Sterling Upholstery Co., Inc.(, located at 50 Neville Rd. in Moscow, PA.

“We love what we do, and it’s very easy. We found what we’re good at,” says Mark.

What they do is restore and refinish furniture, from a favorite rest-your-weary-bones recliner to family heirlooms that have been passed down from generation to generation.

Now in its 22nd year, the business offers full restoration, refinishing and sales. And nestled within its walls is wife Andee’s specialty: Sterling Custom Picture Framing, specializing in needle points, shadow boxes and special requests.

Mark, who’s been working in the trades since the age of 15, left home for a time to serve in the U.S. Navy. Reaching the rank of E-5, he was a Russian linguist, a cryptology specialist during the Cold War, trained to listen in on Russian communications and interpret the level of threat. For four years, he proudly served his country before returning home to Northeast, PA and resuming his life’s work.

Walking around his well organized work room, it’s easy to see Mark’s love for his craft, for intricate carvings, and history. It’s as if he sees things that others might not. When he looks at an original piece, his fingers tend to follow the path of his eyes as he examines and admires someone else’s work.

Picking up an acanthus leaf carving in his shop, he explains it’s from an old buffet dating back to the turn of the last century or early 1900s. Though moisture and water damage have taken their toll on the original piece, Mark sees potential in its parts. “Somebody carved that and I can’t throw that out,” he says. The beautiful carvings will be repurposed to create an aesthetically pleasing, artistic piece by Mark. Along with a delicate, wooden heart, centered at its top, the acanthus leaf carvings will form the frame of an antique mirror.

He has a knack for creating something out of nothing. Take the one-of-a-kind wooden cabinet, holding a large fish tank in their showroom. Fashioned from six or seven different antiques, Mark used pieces from a chestnut church pew, a herter sofa, and even a piece from an old pump organ. The eye-catching piece can’t help but be admired. Mark humbly says it was completed within a month—“playtime” between customer projects—not that he has a lot of free time.