Back at Chair School – first day

So here I am, back in Cornwall for what has become my annual trip to Tresithick. While my experience and confidence grows with each new project (and even the most experienced upholsterers tell me that will always be the case) I love coming back down here to top up my formal tuition – there’s just so much to learn.

This week I’m working on a wingback armchair belonging to my friend Chris. It was always my intention to bring a wingback to “chair school” after my first practice run so that I could learn the correct techniques in more detail. Chris loved the last one I did and wanted something similar, so it dovetailed quite nicely that he sourced a chair just in time for this visit. It has the added bonus that I don’t have to find a space in our home for yet another project chair!

The "before" shot - room for improvement methinks!
The “before” shot – room for improvement methinks!

My main focus this week is arms and wings; I know with my last chair that although the end result was good, the journey wasn’t quite right. With the chair stripped and ready (boy did this one put up a fight – I’m keeping Elastoplast in business) I set to work on the arms today.

I’ll not bore you with the detail, but essentially as a modern chair the construction will be mostly foam based and stapled rather than loose stuffings and tacks. This chair in particular has quite a simple construction and is likely to have been mass produced. This doesn’t mean of course that it will look any less stylish at the end, but it does mean that the wood used might not take kindly to hammering and tacks.

If I’m honest, I was thinking gat by the end of this week I’d be happy to have completed one arm and one wing, but based on today it looks like this will be fairly quick build. Working with foam really does give you instant results as far as depth and shape are concerned although it’s still not as simple as I might have once thought. The fabric chosen is already fire treated so this means we don’t have to add a fire-resistant interliner – this means that both wings should be completed by midday tomorrow. Exciting!

A few progress shots from today
A few progress shots from today

So, today’s processes have involved building up the shape of the arms with jute webbing, a tarpaulin hessian base and various grades and densities off foam to create the desired shape. One slightly unusual feature of this chair are the front legs …… unusually made from plastic! These were painted an attractive shade of gold (not by my friend I hasten to add) and come complete with tell-tale moulding seams. I suspect this chair may not be an original Chippendale. I’ve been working on sanding the seams in my spare time today and have secured the right shade of Annie Sloan chalk paint to give them a little make over. No one will ever know.

Keep these away from a heat source unless you want to be tipped out of your seat
Keep these away from a heat source unless you want to be tipped out of your seat

Darren and I are staying at ‘2 The Court’ again, owned by Chris and David of Spring Cottage. It really is a home from home. I brought with me a couple of simple drop-in seats that I rebuilt for Chris and David; out went the traditional tapestry covers and in came the contemporary grey weave. Good for a few more years I think.

A fun little project for the super-stylish Spring Cottage
A fun little project for the super-stylish Spring Cottage
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2 thoughts on “Back at Chair School – first day

  1. Fit-to-bust 🙂 This is so exciting! Also very pleased that some Annie Sloan is being included. I have a small barley twist table that may lend itself to some of the same…will save that for later advice though. In the meantime, enjoy your week and apologies for the injuries sustained.

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