The Victorian Nursing Chair – Day 1

It’s so great to be back at Tresithick, topping up my knowledge with Richard and Nadine. I did however get ‘the fear’ this morning when we started talking about each of the stages involved in bringing this little chair back to life – it shouldn’t be underestimated just how long it takes to rebuild a chair using traditional methods, 10 whole days may be cutting it fine!

I thought I was a step ahead by purchasing a chair in good order and having it stripped and ready to go for today, but taking the time to really study it with Richard today revealed a couple of issues that I’d overlooked in my haste to be ready for this trip.


its’s hard to get your tacks to hold when there’s nothing to knock them into!

There’s really very little point in putting lovely new upholstery on a frame that may not last, and keeping in mind that this frame may not have been stripped bare i many decades, it really would be cutting corners to skip a few necessary repairs. So, glue and g-clamps at the ready, we set to work replacing missing parts and shoring up some wobbly joints. By far the most laborious process today was filling all the old tack holes. Now you might be thinking “why bother?” and admittedly, these little holes won’t be seen when the piece is finished, but when you have more tacks to go into the frame, it can be very frustrating when you find certain areas are more hole than wood. A mixture of PVA and sawdust sorts this out with the help of your finger to podge it into the holes. Yes, I said podge. It’s an official upholstery term.


Not that im trying to tell Richard his job, but we’ll never hide these clamps underneath the fabric.. A great deal of repair was required today

With all of is done (and some parts of the chair still clamped together) it was after lunch before the upholstery work could begin and I already feel like I have catching up to do! We’re starting with the back of chair so that you’re not encumbered by the seat when you’re working (it hides the points where you want to attach your fabric and makes then hard to reach). With guidance, I’m going to create a well-back which is a stitched pad with a hollow centre. This means that the back of the chair has strength and shape at the edges while the ‘well’ in the centre can be used for softer fillings giving a more comfortable feel. This will hopefully make sense in the coming days, but for now I’ve created what looks like a chair with a WWII parachute attached to it.


This little parcel will make sense tomorrow, I promise!

Wish me luck. Geronimo!!!!

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