Continuing from the Gustav Stickley Ladderback Chair Upholstery, 1 Buildup post,
(Or to begin at the beginning go here.)
Buildup is complete, and we are ready to prepare
the Show Cover of 4-5 oz. vegetable tanned strapping leather.
We tried several dye combinations in
1-2 coats on bits of leather that were unusable before we found the one that worked.
We used Fiebing Pro dyes, and finally
hit on a formula of approximately
50-50 Mahogany and Chocolate.
We surmise the original may have been closer to Mahogany, but wanted the leather to also work with the deeper tones of
the aged varnish on the chairs and
the other Stickley pieces our client owns.
First coat of dye applied, swirled on in overlapping layers, and sometimes
requiring deep rubbing to penetrate the skin even after cleaning.
After each coat dried, the surface was polished, removing excess color.
The second coat deepened the color saturation and evened the dye pattern. Dying done, the leather is ready to be upholstered after another 24 hours and a good polishing!
The dark black spots are blemishes which we must avoid when upholstering.
The shank is placed into the vice and pressed, then re-positioned and pressed
again until the shank is straight enough to be replaced into the chair.
Sometimes a gentle tapping is needed to make the top cap lay flat again.
A pattern was created from the form of each chair,
noting center-line, placement and shape.
The edges were dyed, then waxed and burnished.
A very thin (remembering that the Stickley sits rather flat) felted cotton batting
was placed over the muslin onto the seat form to act as a buffer between the muslin and leather and helps prevent wear as the seat is used. Mitchell feathered and sculpted
the batting to be as he remembered the seat.
The cut seat show cover is placed onto the seat and tacked into place.
The original Craftsman paper label was too old and brittle to be replaced onto the chair.
We made a photocopy of the original label, and added our conservation date.
This was placed onto the underside of the chair, and the original was placed into a protective covering and given back to our client along with other bits of historical material.
The seat is ready for decorative nails. Pilot holes are drilled into the conserved original holes, and the decorative nail ever so gently tapped into place. In the four chairs conserved, only one decorative nail was broken and was repaired by our blacksmith!