Friday, 26 October 2018

Extraordinary Club Chair

Early 20th Century club chair reupholstered in Melin Tregwynt wool fabric.

I'm calling this a club chair because of the shape but it's so low you won't find one like this in any gentleman's club full of stuffy old duffers, they wouldn't be able to sit down in it let alone get out of it again.

And I'm calling it extraordinary because I've never seen anything like it. I picked it up from the customer and was thinking it's so low and long with such a huge feather cushion it had to be a one-off and it turns out it was. Like so many chairs that come in for reupholstery there's a story behind it.

This chair was designed by and made for a close friend of the customer's family, the Irish designer and artist Mia Cranwill. She was a prolific exponent of the Irish Celtic Revival that was part of the Arts & Crafts movement and most famously made the Senate Casket which housed the signatures of the Irish Free State. Here it is

A supporter of the Irish Republican cause she is purported to have hidden guns in her studio in Dublin which was frequented by Republicans and known to them as the 'Joyous Haven'. She made things for all sorts of fashionable and influential people including Compton Mackenzie, George Bernard Shaw and the Irish Tenor John McCormack (who gets a mention because he was my dad's favourite).  She also designed the standards for the Irish Free State Army no less. Here's some more things she made

Apparently she was a very tall lady which accounts for the length of the chair but why it is so low remains a mystery. In any case this is a much loved family heirloom that gets lots of use and apparently seats three children at once.

Unfortunately I didn't find any Celtic Revival jewelry stuffed inside, the last upholsterer must have made off with that, but I did find plenty of evidence of its recent history...

And long may that history continue.

Post Script - in response to this post here's an email from Hugh Glanville  to his daughter Kate (who now owns the chair) adding some lovely detail and corrections to the brief research I did on Mia Cranwill. Many thanks to Hugh for this insight.

"Dear Kate
There are just a few things that Mick Sheridan’s very interesting blog bring to my mind.
Mia did not only work in metal.  She also engraved book illustrations (e.g. for the Dolmen Press, see the National Library of Ireland catalogue).  We have a couple of examples and also a book of translations of ancient Irish epics with a cover in moulded leather done by Mia.  (She taught me how to model designs in leather after soaking it, and I once still had some of her leather working tools.) She knew all the literary figures of her time, such as W.B.Yeats.  Mia, like Yeats, was inclined to Theosophy.
You have a ring Mia made as an engagement ring for my mother - who disliked it.  We used to have a bronze medal she had won as a student – now with Dun Laoghaire College of Art.
Possibly the most interesting work of hers were miniatures of the Ardagh Chalice and the Cross of Cong (the ancient originals having a pride place in the National Museum) that she made for the chapel of Titania’s Palace (the doll’s house made by the Dublin furniture designer Hicks, then furnished by contributions from many noted Irish artists, now alas lost to Denmark).
The blog says she designed “the standards for the Free State Army, no less”.  These were the tops for flag poles carried by the Irish Army – I recall seeing them in use for a procession at the Dublin Horse Show.  Mia had not been responsible for their manufacture and as I recall she was disgusted at how her design had been rendered.  In fact she gave me the copy she had been given – having been using it as a doorstop.  I don’t know what became of it.
The blog also reports that “she is purported to have hidden guns in her studio in Dublin which was frequented by Republicans” but I believe this is a mistake.  What Mia told me was that her family had hidden some guns for the Irish Volunteers, presumably after these had been brought in through Howth in 1914.  She said she remembered some important official from Dublin Castle (I think it was the Ulster King of Arms) being at her parents’ home for tea and how horrified she had been to see guns that had been pushed down the back of the couch glinting every time he leant forward to take a sandwich!
The Irish Volunteers were ultimately to participate in the 1916 Easter Rising along with Sinn Fein and Connolly’s Irish Citizens Army.  As far as I am aware Mia’s father did not participate in the 1916 Rising himself (although a “Cranwell” is actually listed) while I believe Mia was herself studying in England at the time.
Mia’s father was a great friend of my father’s father.  They were both members of the IrishProtestant Home Rule Association.  This had been formed in support of Gladstone’s Home Rule Bill at a time when the latter was being strongly opposed by Irish unionists – particularly among the Protestants in Ulster – under the slogan “Home Rule means Rome rule!”.  This latter movement (under Carson and others and initially supported by the Conservative Party, “playing the Orange card” as Churchill’s father advocated) went on to form the Ulster Volunteers in order to oppose Home Rule by force of arms (“Ulster will fight and Ulster will be right !”), importing arms from Germany (“the greatest Protestant nation on earth”).  After the British Army in Ireland made it clear that it was not prepared to fight against the Ulster Volunteers (the “Curragh Mutiny”) the Irish Volunteers were formed to fight in defense of the implementation Home Rule against the Ulster Volunteers - if the British Army would not do so.  The Irish Volunteers also imported arms from Germany, some of which Mia may have seen.

My grandfather seems to have dropped out by then, but continued to support Home Rule; he is said not to have spoken to his brother for twenty years, the two having taken up opposing sides on Home Rule.  I am not sure whether he would have called himself “a Republican” – probably not.

Much love

Bus Shelter Chair at Llansantffraed

This chair now available to bus travellers on the A40 at Llansantffraed.

I painted the chair in some green paint I was given and went looking for some matching fabric in the scrap bag. I can't remember where this fabric came from but it looks kinda William Morris like and after stitching some pieces together I had a bird left over that became the ridiculous cushion on the back. I just drilled a hole and tied it like a button.

Daft experiments can lead to genuinely good ideas. This is daft but the idea of attaching a back cushion in this way is a good one so you never know until you try do you?

Do you do any daft experiments?


Why not? What are you doing instead?

Oh I see. Well that sounds more important. You'd better get on with that straight away after you've finished looking at the internet.

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Art Deco armchairs welsh style

A pair of Art Deco armchairs reupholstered in Melin Tregwynt Vintage Rose wool fabric.

Great shape on these don't you think?

You could probably pick up something like these for a couple of hundred quid then bring them to me, spend another £1500 or so and you can have your own pair. What are you waiting for?

Thursday, 20 September 2018

Strange shelter chair at Llanegwad

Whoever uses this homemade shelter that looks like it's cut out of some kind of storage barrel can now sit down

I have a feeling it might be used by kids from the house behind waiting for the school bus, so I made a camo seat from offcuts of wool fabric that I thought they might like. I also added a squashy mouse (a nod to Robert Thompson) because if it's an ex grain store I like the idea of the mouse sitting in it.

And why not eh?

Child's Egg style chair in Melin Tregwynt wool

One of the many late 1960's Arne Jacobsen style copies upholstered in Melin Tregwynt wool

Upholsterers, think twice before letting your customer talk you into reupholstering something this shape in a geometric pattern, this took ages to get right. I'm happy I made sense of the pattern with some pleats in the outside back and joins on the inside arms but ideally a plain fabric would give you a perfect curve for the back.

I'm pretty happy with how this turned out though, good one innit.

Chinoiserie footstool in Scottish wool

A 19th century Chinoiserie footstool reupholstered in Bute Ramshead fabric

Superb detail in the paintwork.

Footstool in Welsh wool

An elegant little footstool reupholstered in Melin Tregwynt Nexus wool, very nice too

Regency sofa upholstered in Welsh wool

A large Recency sofa traditionally upholstered in Melin Tregwynt semi-plain weave.

This came in as a pre-stripped frame so we had little idea how it had been upholstered but decided to do it in horse-hair as it is such a nice example and an original piece.

I was very happy with how the bolsters fitted the arm recess and overall I love the neatness of the whole thing.

Yet another piece if furniture I wish was mine.

Subbuteo Chair on the A6 near Luton

Subbuteo Chair now available to bus travellers on the A6 near Luton

I covered the chair in an old Subbuteo pitch in homage to the England team after their great progression in the world cup.

And I took it down to Luton because I was going to see them play and of course LTFC are the greatest football team in the world.

Child's chair in Melin Tregwynt wool

This chair was made for my customer when she was five, now she's passing it on to her grandchild so we reupholstered the seat and back in some Welsh wool, keeping the original vinyl on the arms and back.

I think it's about time your did something with that chair you had when you were a child don't you think?

Footstool upholstered in a sheepskin coat

A customer asked me if I could cover her footstool in a sheepskin coat that she loved but had become too damaged to wear any more so of course I said yes.

I added the buttons underneath as a secret little touch because, hey, I can.

Pair of wingbacks in Melin Tregwynt wool

A pair of wingback chairs reupholstered in wool fabrics by Melin Tregwynt.

I love doing pairs in different fabrics, just makes things a little bit more interesting I reckon.

This one is in 'Halo' and the one below in 'Elements'.

These were a commission

Bus Shelter Chair at Abergwili

Chair now available to bus travellers on the high street at Abergwili, Carmarthen.

As ever the chair was from the tip and I covered it in some floral fabric I stripped from an armchair I was reupholstering.

I like to extend the fabric to the bottom stretchers on certain dining chairs which gives it an elegant look I like to think - kinda skirt like. And for good measure on this one I added a boob tube.

And why not eh?

Bus Shelter Chair at Crickhowell

This chair is now available to bus travellers on the A40 at Crickhowell

I made this chair a while back for an exhibition, it's one of my 'inside out' chairs where the fabric is stitched into the horse hair to show the inside on the outside.

It was kicking around the showroom for ages and I couldn't decide what to do with it and so, like most of my other experimental chairs I thought, "oh I'll just stick it in a bus shelter."

And it was gone within hours. I know because I drove back past about three hours later and it wasn't there. Good luck to whoever took it. It's best that they're taken before they get ruined by weather, but I can't help wondering how people feel taking them, it can't be good karma surely?

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

1950's Rocking Chair in Bute Ramshead

A 1950's rocker now covered in Bute fabric's Ramshead.

I love the on/off lever on this model, a quite brilliant innovation.

And once again the fabric is total class. This was commissioned as a birthday present by one of our repeat customers to her husband - it's a great idea as long as you can wait a while. Alternatively plan about 6 months ahead and we'll have it ready for you.

Happy Birthday from ages ago Jeremy.

This was a commission

Monday, 9 July 2018

Ercol Armchairs in Melin Trefriw Wool

A pair of Ercol Armchairs reupholstered in Welsh wool from Melin Trefriw.

As we often do, we replaced the back cushions with bespoke feather cushions to show off the spindles on the chairs a bit more. It was great to work with cloth from Melin Trefriw - it's not really an upholstery fabric in that it isn't treated and doesn't have a rub test figure so we don't often get the chance to use it but as far as I'm concerned it's better than a good deal of 'proper' upholstery fabric on the market.

But it's such a great traditional Welsh tapestry design that even though it doesn't have the required cigarette test certificate for upholstery I think we'll take the risk that it wont spontaneously combust. And who smokes now anyway? And have you ever tried burning a Welsh blanket? No chance mate.

For more info on Melin Trefriw fabrics, click here

This was a commission.

Mid Century Armchair in Bute tweed

A 1960's British armchair reupholstered in terrific Bute tweed.

The cushions on this armchair had been eaten by mice and were looking a bit sorry but the chair had belonged to the customer's late husband so it was a privilege to restore it back to its former glory.

And once again the Bute Fabrics tweed range did not disappoint.

This was a commission

Pair/Par Exhibition

Two pieces from our new Welsh Vernacular range were featured in this splendid exhibition at Parc Howard in Llanelli. Here's the details from the Oriel Myrddin website.

"Simon Gaiger · Sam Knight · Mick Sheridan · Chris Williams
Seats by four exceptional makers from Carmarthenshire paired with historical seats from Carmarthenshire Museums and local collections. "

Here's a poor photo of my pieces where you can get a rough idea - the light was so strong coming through the window it was very hard to photograph so you'll h ave to take my work for it that it looked fantastic.

It was great to meet the other exhibitors and very flattering to be in such good company.

This one is mine

I am so happy with this chair I picked up for £5  - now covered in Bute tweed no less.

And no, you can't have it, it's mine.

Thursday, 19 April 2018

Bus Stop Chair at Upper Tumble

The seat now available to bus travellers on the A476 at Upper Tumble, Carms.

I've been experimenting with machine-applique quite a bit, mainly trying to recreate various camouflage patterns with wool fabrics for an idea I'm trying to develop. The problem with doing this after the pub is I can get a bit carried away and come up with ridiculous things like this.

The good thing about Guerrilla Upholstery is that you don't have to live with your mistakes - just hoik it off the the nearest bus stop and forget it.

But not before stapling a plastic scuba diver to the leg though eh?

Of course not.

Thursday, 29 March 2018

Mid Century Armchairs in Eleanor Pritchard fabric

A pair of mid century armchairs reupholstered in Heathfield fabric by Eleanor Pritchard

Hand made in beech and oak with nice sharp angles.

Now covered in the best fabric available to humanity.

This was a commission