How to kill woodworm

I’ve learned a lot about woodworm in these past few weeks, and I suppose if upholstery is going to be my thing then this is a good time to get to grips with these troublesome little creatures. Did you know that woodworm lie dormant for a vast proportion of the year? Or that they come out in late spring to start munching your furniture and then potentially your joists? Or that if you tap the offending piece of furniture and dust comes from the holes that’s a sure sign of live woodworm? No? Really? Well that’s a shame because you could have told me in the first place.

I have to admit that I was on a bit of a high after completing the ‘hare chair’ and eager to show it off. I had so many lovely remarks and it took pride of place in the living room for all to see, that is of course until I spotted a real, live woodworm sitting on the leg. Surprisingly, they’re not worms at all, they’re tiny grey beetles but irrespective of what they look like, this one was sat waving at me from across the room. Fearful for the future of our home I had to quarantine the chair without damaging the upholstery, the shower cubicle seemed like the perfect place – “it’s glass and resin and it has doors to contain an infestation” being the basis of my argument. Weirdly, putting it in what is effectively a glass case made it look like a museum piece which I quite liked, but the proximity to the loo brush sort of ruined the effect.

Long story short, I think I’ve fixed it. Options included smoking them out, painting the whole chair in highly flammable liquid or just setting light to it anyway. I settled on a treatment for squirting into the holes and studying on a regular basis for new ones appearing. This has been a real lesson learned and I’m viewing auction finds very differently as a result – had the seat frame been made from the same type of wood as the legs (they’re quite particular) I may have had to throw the whole thing away.

Anyway, onward and upward, bringing me to my next project (thoroughly checked for woodworm) an Adam style chair purchased some months ago at auction.

This one just caught my eye, and from what I can tell is well within my capabilities. It’s been re-upholstered recently and looks quite neat from the outside, but oddly enough it seems to be hollow in the middle with no support or stuffing. The challenge here is deciding how to rebuild it without the old upholstery acting as a guide, with the others I’ve been re-doing what was already there. This one might need springs which could be good fun!

I’ve also decided that this one is going to be for sale. At the beginning of the year I set a few goals in my head, and one of them was to have sold a piece before the end of 2011. While a couple of my chairs now reside in other peoples’ homes, no money has changed hands. Let’s see if I can make this the first genuine sale for The Cantin’ Patch.

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Feeling proud

I’m feeling pretty pleased with myself this evening because I’ve finished my most complicated project to date and I’m really chuffed with the results. I always know when I’m pleased with something because I find excuses to go and look at it – I do it when I redecorate a room or polish the car to within an inch of its life…… I go…… and sit…… and admire, and that’s what I’ve been doing every evening this week as my ‘hare chair’ has edged nearer to completion.

I’ve been working on this for months now, it’s not perfect but that’s all been part of my learning and in no way have the imperfections (that only I know about!) taken away from the finished article. I think that this also represents a step forward in my mind – this chair needed real skills, and tools, and patience and it made me feel a little bit like a specialist, doing something that not everyone can do. So here’s the before and after (and as I type this I’ve not yet seen these photos side by side, so I’m feeling quite excited!)

The fabric from Spoonflower is brilliant, and having the right upholstery grade has given the chair a more substantial feel – and it needed it, unfortunately the frame has suffered badly with woodworm in the past and to say parts were brittle is an understatement. Let’s just say that there are a couple of screws and nails beautifully hidden beneath that upholstery doing a sterling job of keeping it all together.

In terms of my development, I was hoping that if I mastered this type of chair, I could ask my tutor to show me something more complex in August when I attend my course. However, the past few months have given me a stronger appreciation of how hard some of the upholstery basics can be and some tuition to perfect what I’ve already practised might give me the strong foundation I need. This project has taught me that:

  1. Using a sewing machine takes time to master and is actually good fun (it’s on my birthday present list before I wear out the one on loan from my Mum!)
  2. I’m not very good at upholstering curves and corners and I’m looking forward to being taught how to do this
  3. Upholstery weight fabric is easier to work with than normal lightweight fabric
  4. Switch on the glue gun before getting frustrated and forcing in the whole glue stick because nothing is coming out. Trust me, when you switch it on and the whole stick melts at once you’ll glue anything to anything to use up the surplus.
  5. Check your frames for woodworm before you buy them!
  6. I can make my own piping and it really makes a chair look finished

I’m looking forward to starting another project, maybe something that needs deep buttoning (chesterfield style) but until then I’m going to enjoy looking at this one for a little bit longer.

On a final note, I wanted to share another reason for me to feel proud. I’ve been blogging now for 5 months and my objective in doing this was always to chronicle my progress for my benefit and if others found it interesting then that’s a great thing. I’ve had some really kind, supportive comments, encouragement along the way which has been a lovely surprise, but I have to say that being awarded a Liebster Blog Award by fellow blogger, Dee Russell was really special. In Dee’s own words: “This is a way to say I ♥ your blog. Pass it on and share the love.” and I certainly felt the love, proper chuffed. Thanks Dee.