We all know that some familiar pieces have special significance, reminding us of people, places and times past. For our client this was such a piece – bequeathed by a friend and imbued with memories, we needed to retain the fundamental character of this old chair.
With one twisted leg and a splintering frame, ragged upholstery and one remaining arm nailed into place, this chair had seen better days. So much so that bringing it back posed a serious challenge.
The appalling condition of the battered old wood and countless signs of past upholstery suggested to us that it was built long ago – possibly between the wars, with materials in short supply.
First, the mangy old upholstery was removed, disturbing countless layers of sediment, cat hairs and detritus.The battered seat foam and half the webbing was removed, to give us access to the frame.
Then we inspected the frame. Discovering how extensive the damage was, we used mending plates and glue to firm up the frame. Lots of mending plates..lots of glue.
After several days of gluing, clamping and mending the frame, we sanded, waxed and polished the legs and remaining arm – being careful not to obliterate the character marks.
We also replaced the webbing, matching the new weave to the original tension. Then covered the battered old foam in calico, to smooth its surface. Since the remaining arm was nailed firmly in place, and the chair frame was far too fragile to risk pulling it apart, the calico went on around the arm. Some nifty sewing kept it all firmly in place.
This posed an interesting problem for the new upholstery. How to make it look good where the new fabric was sliced open to allow for the arm? A shiny row of upholstery nails was our solution, matched on each side with complementary rows.
So now we have a lovely new chair, which is also a lovely old chair.