This chair is a keeper

Of all the chairs I’ve worked on, there’s something about this one that I really like. I think it’s the slim profile, it’s not a chunky armchair, it’s far more refined and elegant, almost understated. It’s certainly the most involved piece I’ve tackled to date, and when you invest so much time in something it’s can be hard to let it go. Today I started shaping the arms. First the coir…..

And then you encase it in scrim and add lots of pressure to form a nice, firm pad

Before and after. it takes some grappling to reduce the coir this much!
And done! Two very firm arms, shaped and ready for second stuffings

Shape is everything at this stage because try as you might, a bump or a dip will definitely show in the end result. So lots of time spent here today, making sure my foundations are good. I’m starting to see why 4 weeks have been recommended for the completion of this chair. 


Introducing Dug Roll

On Monday of this week I didn’t know what a dug roll was and by the end of the day I had four of my own 

An actual dug roll. It’s the thing on the back of the chair….

It turns out that you can alter the profile or depth of a chair frame with one of these. Essentially it’s a roll of coir encapsulated in hessian scrim which is then attached to the frame. I had one on the back to give the back rest depth, one on the leading edge of the seat to give it a rounder profile and one on each of the scroll arms to give a wider presence. These were the ones that I’ve reinstated today. New skill ….. Tick. 

Brand new dug rolls!

Of course the question still remains, who was Dug Roll?

Before Upholstery….

… Comes frame work. 
There’s utterly no point in having beautiful upholstery if your frame can’t take it. Thankfully, this frame is in relatively good order but it was still worth gluing and closing up a few of the joints. In the end I think I used most of the clamps in the workshop including one that was so long it required a warning triangle. 

mind that clamp, it’ll have your eye out.

Remember I said that it felt like I’d removed a million tacks? Next job – fill a million tack holes! A mixture of sawdust and PVA ensures that your new tacks have something to grip rather than playing ‘dodge the hole’. This believe it or not has taken most of the day. 

before and after. its time consuming but filling the holes is vital
Mucky pup. This is a job best done by hand. I had so much PVA on my fingers i could have walked up a wall.

Tonight I treated myself to fish and chips at St Mawes. It’s a real drag being in Cornwall. Honest. 

Getting Qualified

I made a decision last year that I forgot to tell you about. After 5 years of working on my upholstery skills with Richard at Tresithick I decided to work towards a qualification, a diploma to be precise.

Taking the time to work towards a qualification had always seemed something of a challenge in the past, not least because it required 6 weeks of tuition each year and my work holiday entitlement was only 5! For this reason I opted to take my own projects to the training centre, but the more time I spent with the other students studying for their awards, the more I realised I’d accomplished many of the things they were doing without gaining official recognition from the governing body. So, my mind was made up – I wanted a qualification too!

What’s interesting is that I’ve never been asked to prove how qualified I am, and I actually don’t expect that it will happen. I’m very fortunate that my work has come from recommendations, so I suppose that’s qualification enough for most. This qualification is for me, for my own satisfaction and sense of achievement, and of course for that odd occasion when someone might want me to prove my credentials. I’ll carry my certificate with me just in case. 


An anti-macassa may not have been a bad idea
Today was the first day towards my qualification and I’m working on a ‘substantial traditional armchair’. As luck would have it I had one waiting in the wings. This piece was rescued for me by a friend a couple of years ago – destined for the tip it had my name all over it. I thought it was 1930’s given the fabric, but as I’ve stripped it today it seems that it may have had a previous life and could be a little older. Today was mostly assessing the state of the frame and removing (what seemed like) a million tacks. I’ve not yet decided on fabric. Any ideas?


I needed a bigger bin really. The springs looked like they’d come off a Routemaster.
As you know, I love Cornwall and time spent here is real food for the soul. This time I thought it would be fun to come in my little red Citroen – my first ever car and owned for 22 years. At her MOT this year I realised that I’d only driver her 9 miles in the past 12 months and that just wasn’t good enough. I smile from ear to ear when I’m behind the wheel, so a road trip seemed in order. It was a sedate trip (these cars weren’t built for speed!) but we made it and I’m hoping for the odd sunny spell so I can take the roof off. Actually, the chair was so big the only way it went in the car was through the roof! Who needs a van?

We made it! Staying at the beautiful Spring Cottage in Probus is a real treat.