Process: Gustav Stickley Ladderback Chair Finish

Continuing from the Reparation of the Gustav Stickley Ladderback Armchair
(Or to begin at the beginning go here.)

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We began our finish with a quick review of the chair with the repairs completed, above.

W15 CK STICKLEY1 127The chairs were covered with radial fissures, mostly from shrinkage over a century
of use and exposure to the elements, including possible oil heat.

W15 CK STICKLEY1 130 W15 CK STICKLEY1 131 W15 CK STICKLEY1 132These were filled with our hot pigmented carnauba wax infused with
tree resins delivered into the fissures using a batik writer
(art tools come in handy in our studio).  This is allowed to cool, and scraped to level.

W15 CK STICKLEY1 133The new dowels used to secure the mortice were in need of pigment,
delivered in a formula to match the original historic varnish (MPFC creates),
and carefully applied with a cotton swab so as not to run onto the original finish.

W15 CK STICKLEY1 152This was allowed to cure overnight.
(I am cheating and showing the same area after wax in the last image.)

Our specially formulated wax (created for this project of carnauba, polymerizing oils,
and tree resins infused with finely ground earth pigments) was applied liberally.
4/0 steel wool was used on areas where there were excessive
amounts of scaling and carbon accumulations.

All the chairs had areas of minute splintering, which is problematic due to fabric catching on the area and pulling large chunks of the frame away.  In these areas a very fine sandpaper was covered in wax and gently used to smooth the dangerous splinters off, while slightly pigmenting the open grain.

W15 CK STICKLEY1 149All this was was allowed to sit then wiped and polished using prewashed
cotton osnaburg, followed by a final polishing with a woolen baize cloth for a dull sheen.

W15 CK STICKLEY1 153Finish was completed, above and below.
Below, before an after images of a severe radial split,
a damaged left-facing arm top,
and the left-facing leg dowel infills.

Note: Scratches exhibiting in final finish images around new dowels are not caused by MPFC.  We did not level the dowels after they were inserted into the chair mortices because of the risk of damaging the original finish, however, in the original production by Stickley there were several areas where the dowels were leveled and scratches and saw chatter marks were produced around the dowel mortice walls.

W15 CK STICKLEY1 164Also, not all the original bores
were straight, which caused —
both in Stickley’s dowels and in ours —
areas where there was a slight dip
on the angled side.

We also found several tear outs and
chipping along pin mortice walls
which appear to have been created
at the time the chairs were constructed,
such as the one shown right,
along the inside of the right-facing arm,
shown after finish and wax fills.

We are ready for upholstery! (coming soon.)

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Next, Buildup Begins!

 W15 CK STICKLEY1 LINE ©MPF Conservation.  May be printed for your own use.
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About dkatiepowellart

hollywood baby turned beach gurl turned steel&glass city gurl turned cowgurl turned herb gurl turned green city gurl. . . artist writer photographer. . . cat lover but misses our big dogs, gone to heaven. . . buddhist and interested in the study of spiritual traditions. . . foodie, organic, lover of all things mik, partner in conservation business mpfconservation, consummate blogger, making a dream happen, insomniac who is either reading buddhist teachings or not-so-bloody mysteries or autobio journal thangs early in the morning when i can't sleep
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