Sunday, January 17, 2016

Transforming traditional to modern

The more I work in this field the more I realize information and skill is being lost daily.  A perfect example is the upholstery field. Everyone wants to remove the pass and replace it with modern day crap. Upholstering furniture is a frustrating field. Almost everyone thinks the work is easy and it can be done quickly. Really the best part of upholstery is the lack of down time. But like everything else I do upholstering takes time and patience.   

Why get into upholstery?

I decided a long time ago to be a jack of all trades and master of none. Being able to dabble in all areas of making, preserving, restoring, gilding, and upholstering allows me to stay in business. I can now take on so much work and turn away very little. But more importantly I wanted to preserve the past with the hope that a new generation of craftspeople can learn from what I preserved.  This is why I started a blog. 

Recently I had the opportunity to upholster a Victorian side chair made around the late 1890's in Massachusetts.  The owner of the chair wanted me to remove the pass and replace it with modern day foam. The goal in mind was to show buyers that old furniture can still look good by simply replacing the show cover. 

 I took the job knowing I can give this chair new life but also preserve the pass.I didn't want to remove the horse hair or springs because they are still the best option for upholstered furniture. To assist me in this new adventure I called upon my friend/mentor master upholster Mike Mascelli.  Mike came to the shop to show me how to preserve the pass.  

Jobs like this always seem to have a budget. I did everything possible to not cut corners but at the same time get the job done quickly. Below are a series of photos highlighting the process.  

Victorian Chair Made in 1897. Under the show cover we found horse hair, burlap, cotton and springs. There is a diamond pattern back with buttons that we wanted to preserve. Instead of removing the back we filled the cavity in hopes of making it look like one solid piece.  

The original webbing needed replacing. We used hog rings to capture the springs in place. If we were accessing the springs from above than we could of tied the springs in place using traditional methods. But this is where budgets come into play and decisions must be made.   

Filling in the diamond pattern in hopes to preserve history.
Preserving history. Why replace it with foam. 

Temp tacking the show cover in place.  Staples were used in the end due to the rails becoming  shredded wheat from previous tacking. Centering the fabric's pattern was crucial. I was happy to see that the back appeared a solid piece of foam.  

Applying welting with hot melt glue. 
All done. Not perfect. But budgets play in the final outcome. I am happy to see that a simple change of fabric made the chair look modern.  

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