Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Hay, What's in That Chair?

I've had this chair in my home for over 20 years. It's one of those things that has just been "around" without much attention being paid to it except at Thanksgiving when we might need an extra chair. But in the midst of Restoration Spring, nothing is safe.

The tired old brocade material and outdated brass tacks just had to go. I decided to reupholster it. I was of course, emboldened by my success with an arm chair, so this seemed like a piece of cake.

Sometimes I amuse myself.

I didn't know enough to be intimidated by this dainty bit of wood and cloth.

Then I took it apart and you would have thought I'd released the 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse. I was unprepared for what I would find, though the little puffs of ancient dust that were released with each tack I pulled out should have been a clue.

The chair was stuffed with hay.

Now in the nether regions of my brain I knew about this. Mattresses and furniture were stuffed with straw or horsehair, basically whatever was available out of necessity. This photo is a perfect example of what we, in the south, like to call a "hot mess."



Life before Hobby Lobby was hard.

While I was doing some research I found that a few upholsterers are trying to preserve this practice, and while that is admirable in some respects, I think carpet is germy so you can bet that this chair remained outside during this entire process. I'm no expert at this (or anything in case you haven't figured that out by now) so here are the pics to show the process.

My first step was so apply a coat of Minwax stain in a matching color to hide any scratches, though this chair has only received minimal use and was in great shape for its age. I didn't even bother with a complete sanding job. The stain covered the few imperfections perfectly.



 After painstakingly removing the old fabric,webbing, orange foam that disintegrated into dust with every touch, and straw I rewebbed it with fresh new webbing that was identical to the old. I guess some things never change. 


I cut a couple of pieces of batting to get the thickness I wanted and covered them with (yes, more) painter's drop cloth canvas.


During this part of the process while I was hammering in the tacks on the front of the chair, it broke. I had not noticed how far the front came out in front of the legs, I then had to stop recovering and move on to repairing with wood glue and waiting overnight for it to dry. When I resumed hammering I created a little base for the front of the chair to rest on for support. I certainly hammered less aggressively after that. 

 I used upholstery tacks to secure it around the edges BEFORE cutting. A lesson I learned by cutting the first piece too small.


 I cut off the excess fabric and applied the trim replacing the tired old brass tacks with shiny new nickel ones.
In the end, it didn't turn out too badly considering the fact that I had no idea what I was doing. But, HAY, when did that ever stop me?

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