We are properly conserving a French-made Planter’s Chair, circa 1860.
(You can begin here, if you like.)
We’ll follow the chair through excavation to the new show-cover.
We left off in the last posting with frame and finish conservation.
Mitchell began with the chair turned over.
Upholstery conservation on the conserved frame begins underneath.
Mitchell intends to web the frame in the original basket-weave pattern,
same placement, using similar webbing to the original.
Mitchell’s note: If you remember the oddly placed webbing (last image above),
the more I considered it, the more I realized this was likely NOT the original webbing. Tack hole patterns suggest a tightly woven webbing of greater width, also European.
In this, the oldest generation found, note it is likely numerous courses are missing.
The webbing was a high quality herringbone jute, modest in width, metric, of European origin. The upholsterer chose to overlap the edges of the spring instead of supporting
the spring at center (the spring could fall through, see third image). It may have been rewebbed from underneath, as the springs were also not lashed to the webbing.
Mitchell placed his webbing in a tightly placed basket-weave with very little space
between courses of webbing, in keeping with the French style of upholstering.
We chose to rewebb and place the webbing in what appears to be the historic position. The historic position/patterning corroborates our supposition that the chair
was made in France or was created in the French style.
We keep samples of original show covers, burlaps, muslins, and webbings for our clients.
Webbing completed; Chair turned right-side up!
Cleaned springs were placed, still tied, into position.
Mitchell realized that to preserve the decorative arms a second, additional prosthetic
block was needed underneath the block placed in earlier (see previous post).
A double blocking system was the totality of the addition on both sides.
Mitchell noted the direction of the springs during excavation,
and places them properly into position.
Tying shown at the start. We show these ties and knots in
other reports online, and will be teaching them
in online classes in the near future.
Mitchell’s note: The wear-points found on the old iron springs indicated the piece was
originally a four-way tie. Clearly the maker crafted it with the intent of the
user dropping deeply into the seat with a low center of gravity, ergo, the four-way tie.
So much can be learned by paying close attention to details during excavation!
The springs were covered with a tight jute hessian,
creating the Spring Deck.
The hessian was tied to the springs in a four-point pattern.
Mitchell sees an unintended homage to the Holbein stitch and wonders about the connection. The Holbein is shown in the buildup, and will be taught in our online classes.
The historic seat deck pod was cleaned, hand-blocked,
and selectively teased and made ready for installation.
Additional coir was secured to the conserved pod,
and the pod was placed onto the Spring Deck.
The fiber pod was marked, readied for lashing into place using 12 ply waxed linen twine.
Three rows of lashing established a firm front edge and edgeroll,
while two courses of twine transited the seat contour keeping stuffings in place,
establishing a center of gravity for a comfortable sit.
The third front row of stitching performs double duty in this instance.
From Mitchell: It never ceases to amaze me, even after decades of performing work
on fiber pods, their ingenious design! While it is easy to comprehend how fiber
stuffed into a casing performs relative to compression and return during a sit or recline,
it is the lashing twines (simple thins strand of tightly twisted fiber) which become
the building blocks for the fiber pod’s ultimate structure and longevity.
These strings strategically placed, patterned and knotted, act like sub-floors and
stud walls in a building. They make for a cohesive structure which can flex yet remain
firm and shapely, and allows the fiber pod to last decades under consistent use.
If you would be interested in notification of online classes coming next year, comment and we will save your email address. It will be used by no one else for any other purpose.
An overview of the process, from one vantage point, below.