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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Have a seat

Almost finished!

as it is being taken down to the frame

Finished chair in natural light
Once upon a time, in a life faraway, there was an artist that decided to learn upholstery. This artist had a premature infant that required a full time mom, so the family had only one income stream from dad, a taxi driver. Furnishing the home was out of the question, so this artist became an alley rat. There was much to be found in the central Denver alley's around Cheeseman Park, but most needed work, and lots of it. Taking the very inexpensive Upholstery class at Emily Griffith Opportunity School, these finds from another era soon furnished the living room with wonderful antiques from the 1920's and 1930's and a little side business developed. By this time another child appeared, so still not ready to pull out the oil paints just yet. There were no odorless turps or mineral spirits in those days.

Those infants are now in their 30's and I have not upholstered anything but dining room chairs in decades. This chair was going to be joint project with my daughter, but after 2 years of storage in our garage, my husband wanted it out. Hence the idea to do it as a Christmas present. I had intended to have it done by a professional, but the quotes on it were $330 and $430 and it would take 4 months! Certainly not by Christmas, even though I started research on this in late September/early October. The good news about taking it in for a quote is that I learned it was an Eastlake chair that was mainly manufactured in the Midwest/West during the mid to late 1800's. They were usually sold in pairs. He said this was a higher end chair for the period due to the extra carvings on the top and the piece of burl wood on the front of the seat. He said the name came from a furniture maker in the 1700's who had this idea to mass produce chairs and had designed it to be so. This idea did not catch on until it was brought to the USA by some enterprising soul almost a 100 years later as an affordable, but good looking seating option. I can tell you it is a very hard wood, possibly walnut as it was very hard to tack and staple into!

It was hard to find the inner pieces I needed to work on this chair, so fortunately I had enough still stored in my basement to complete the task. Thank goodness for Youtube as I had not tied springs in 25 years. There are 5 springs in the seat I had to tie 8 ways so that they move as a unit. Only had to tie each one 3 times to get it taut enough, straight enough, etc. There were many aspects of rebuilding this chair that I did 3 times to get it right. The seat was not straightforward with the little extra detail or brace on the side coming off the back. Made that corner very tricky for cutting fabric. I can honestly say I am glad I got it done. It was fun, up to a point, but am I ready to tackle another upholstery project? Not really, at least not yet. But this is where my creative juices have been focused for the last week or so. Hence, it is worthy of a post.


Anonymous said...

Beautiful. Did you have to refinish the wood, also? JB

victoriasart said...

No. I just cleaned it. I have watched too much of Antiques Roadshow to ever refinish a piece of furniture again!