Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Victorian Bolster-Back Chair in Welsh Wool

An 1883 bolster-back nursing chair reupholstered in Melin Tregwynt Mini-Madison wool.

Really unique looking chair this one. I'm calling it a 'bolster-back' chair for the scroll-type top that looks like a bolster. I googled 'bolster-back' and a couple of similar chairs popped up, so I'm happy with that. If anyone knows what they're really called please let me know.

The Melin Tregwynt fabric seems to really suit the chair - it's contemporary but with enough tradition to somehow pull it off. And the chair is all shape and not much detail so it can carry the pattern - something to consider when choosing a fabric.

This was very rickety when I first saw it. It came to me through cabinet-maker Jonathan Garrard who knocked it flat then put it all back together again.

And then I got my hands on it.

The leg detail and castors give a strong clue that this chair is from the late 1800s, but I'm going to stick my neck out and say this chair was made in 1883. In fact I reckon it was upholstered on April 21st of that year. How could I possibly know that? OK, see below - a piece of 'The London Reader' from that date. I found this along with the rest of the sweepings from the floor of that day (rags, thread, etc) - a common practice at the time.

And in case you were wondering, yes of course I put it back. Along with a note of my own, the date and of course a plastic soldier.

And why not eh?

This was a commission.

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Push Me - Pull You Chair

This is the Push Me - Pull You chair. Two cut-down late 19th Century cane chairs joined together and upholstered in a period tapestry fabric.

This is what you might call design through experimentation. Originally intended as a guerrilla upholstery piece destined for a bus stop, my wife saw it and said 'I'm having that' and walked off with it.

So it sits in our dining room and is used as an extra dining chair, mainly by kids who don't mind not having a proper chair to sit on. A friend saw it and said 'ah, the Pushmi Pullyu, Doctor Doolittle would be pleased'.

The chairs came for the local tip. One had no front legs so the saw was required.

And some screws and batens to join them together.

The tapestry fabric was given to me by one of my neighbours and might be 100 years old but could easily be from the 1950s. Who knows. Who cares, it's ace.

This chair might be for sale if you can persuade my wife.

Good luck with that.

Bedroom Chairs in Charleston House fabric

A pair of late 19th Century bedroom chairs upholstered in Charleston House Grapes fabric.

These were originally cane-seat chairs found in the attic of one of my customer's houses. They were easy enough to adapt for upholstery with some jute webbing but the rails are quite slender so we just about got away with double piping on these. But it had to be piping - you can't go sticking braid over a pattern like this now can you?

The customer picked up half a metre of the fabric herself from Charleston House and there wasn't quite enough fabric to make two matching chairs so the pattern-match had to be randomised.

The fabric was designed by Duncan Grant in 1931. Grant was a prominent member of the Bloomsbury Group and a prolific painter and designer. Along with his (working) partner Vanessa Bell, and with input from the great Roger Fry, he established Charleston Farmhouse with its sort of English Country/Mediterranean cottage garden. It's my guess that this was the inspiration for this fabric, but I'm only guessing.

Here's Grant (left) with his sometime lover, economist John Maynard Keynes. Imagine how different Britain would be today if these people had really been allowed to flourish, certainly not in a floundering, unprincipled political environment that's for sure. These people had ideas. These are my kinda people.

Oh, and nice chairs too eh?

This was a commission.

#charlestonhouse #duncangrant #vanessabell #bloomsburygroup