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Category: antique

  1. Beneath the surface

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    Traditional upholstery is about so much more than the fabric that covers a chair. Underneath the surface there is layer upon layer of work to create, build and sustain the shape of the chair. All achieved mainly using these and a few simple tools... I know, I'd never make a hand model!

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    People are often surprised by the cost of traditional upholstery, so I thought it would be worth showing quite how much work goes into it...

    The Arms
    There are over 10 stages to build traditional arms - even more if they are sprung! Here are just a few...




    The Back

    This is going to be a buttoned back - which is why the edges are being built up first to create a well for the buttons... Rest in peace Princess Leia.




     The Seat

    And at least another 15 stages to build a sprung, stitched and stuffed seat. This one has an independent sprung edge for extra comfort…




    And here it is, hand built and stitched - before its top cover. I often wish I could leave them in their underwear like this...


    So why bother?

    So why bother with all that palaver, when you can just use foam and get the job done much more quickly? Here's why...

    Sustainability The materials used in this chair are all natural and biodegradable, apart from the metal springs and they can be recycled. Foam is an oil-based product and will sit in land fill for hundreds of years.
    Longevity A chair built with traditional materials and methods will last a long, long time, literally decades beyond the life of a modern piece of furniture made with foam.
    Tradition This is how these antique chairs would have been upholstered over 100 years ago. To retain the integrity and authenticity of an antique piece of furniture its important to use methods and materials in keeping with its origins.
    Celebrate and keep British craft alive! These skills will die out if we don't keep using, sharing and teaching them...


  2. Stuffed and stitched

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    A while back, I bought a set of four Victorian balloon back dining chairs to restore and sell at Artist Open Houses during the May Festival. I wanted to showcase the amount of work and skill that goes into traditional upholstery but also illustrate how traditional antique furniture can be made to look contemporary and stylish.

    This is a shot of one of the chairs before it was stripped back and the stuffing I discovered in the seat. An eclectic mix of the original seaweed & coir stuffing and some more modern bits of what looked like a massacred nylon teddy!



    Here are just a few of the layers that go in to building a traditional seat... The final picture shows the different stages of seat stitching.



    ...its quite tricky finding a way of taking a photo of four dining chairs with stitched seat pads that shows them in all their glory. Here are some of my attempts:





    So here are two of the finished product, all dressed up in yellow Velvet  with Houles double cord.
















    These beautifully made frames now have new, traditional seat pads that are built to last and contain sustainable materials, not teddies... You can buy these as a pair of bedroom chairs or as a set of four dining room chairs.