We are continuing on in our process on the Gustav Stickley Ladderback Armchair.
To disassemble or excavate the upholstery we begin with the
historic decorative nails. Mitchell created a handy hand-tool for getting under
the historic nails to lift without damaging them, gently tapping under each nail with this sharp thin tool. It is time-consuming and precise work.
Each nail is inspected and straightened as needed.
Each one is labeled and we map their location.
If this seems a tad overkill, understand that these were hand-driven by a craftsperson,
and they do not always go into the holes straight. By mapping them we can ensure they will fit back into the original holes during reupholstery. Also, we note the way the upholsterer plied his (usually at that time) craft, such as the temporary tack used
in the third image above, to secure the show cover before the decorative nails
were applied. A bit later we will show how this mapping of all the holes
also allows us to know how many times the piece has been upholstered.
The chair is turned over to allow us to remove the upholstery tacks on the seat underside.
The original label is carefully cut away while still attached to the original burlap.
Canvas and label are placed between two acrylic cauls to press it flat.
We will not reattach the fragile label, but carefully preserve it and
place it back inside a pocket created for the chair.
The show cover tacks are also carefully removed, as we do not want to mar the wood frame. These tacks will not be reused — indeed many are rusted — but will be offered to our client, CK. At least a few will be saved from each chair to accompany other artifacts.
The leather show cover is lifted in its entirety off the seat.
We discover writing on the underside of the leather, “60” or “68” followed by what
may be a name: “Mac.” This writing has transferred to the cotton topper.
(If anyone knows what the word is please send me a message!)
It may be the upholsterer’s name.
Tacks holding the cotton muslin undercover are carefully removed; the undercover was lifted. A small portion of it will be saved for CK.
One day cotton of this sort may not be available and then these artifacts
will be interesting historical bits that tell a story.
At each step of the way Mitchell is carefully recording the tack holes.
Underneath the topper is the felted lint topper.
The felted cotton lint stuffing is no longer available.
The topper will be cleaned and reused, and is also an artifact.
Lint stuffing of this nature tells a story of its own.
Mitchell marks the final row of tacks on the outside of the frame,
the webbing tacks, on the heavy Mylar. It is clear to him from the lack of extra
unaccounted for holes that this is the original show cover and upholstery buildup.
The jute webbing tacks are carefully removed, and at this time all items tacked into the front of the frame are off the chair. The jute is also tucked away for storage for CK.
The final seat deck, a cotton canvas (which had the label cut out of it) is tacked
onto the top of the apron frame. These tacks are also carefully lifted.
All parts are removed from the frame.
Clockwise, beginning with the leather show cover, are the leather, the muslin cover, the lint pad, the jute webbing, and the cotton seat deck.
The various tacks (far right), the decorative nails (in four labeled bags), the map and the original label (pressed between acrylic cauls) are awaiting for storage or rebuilding.
The frame is bare and can be re-assessed. No surprises. The rear apron stretcher on this armchair was badly warped, though it was hard to sow in an image.
We are ready to disassemble all the joints needing reparation;
we will then clean and reglue all the joints, next post.
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