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 inside back excavation.
The inside back completely excavated.
Note (even if you can’t see it) the frame’s steel hoop tilts to one side,
a product of repeated sideways sitting by an inhabitant.
As we move on, it will sometimes appear as if our upholstering
was “off” when it was actually the tilt of the back’s steel hoop.
14 oz jute hessian was chosen as a replacement for the
original inside back and arm foundational membrane.
The symmetry of the hessian grain positions relative to the frame positioning
and lack of symmetry was calculated and transferred by graphite and chalk
to the hessian in order to insure the best positioning of the woven medium.
The hessian was stretched and pinned then lashed with
heavy 12-ply linen twine in a locking blanket stitch.
Mitchell placed double cross stitches along strategic
points of the hoop and vertical supports to
ensure the hessian did not move over time.
The seat and back now will be built together.
On the seat, arms and back, the buildup occurred in
reverse order of excavation; what came off last went on first.
Second stuffings (horsehair) was secured to
the conserved pod and additional hair added over the lashings
to replace original hairs broken over many years of use.
A new cotton topper was placed upon the hair.
A 7 oz cotton/hemp muslin was stitched to the pod,
making the surface ready for the new showcover.
Historic hair filled cummerbund (lumbar filler)
was lashed into position using linen twine and
covered with 9 oz open weave hessian.
Notice how the lumbar filler wraps around the inside arms,
creating a semi-firm seal between the seat contours
and the inside back and arm base.
The serpentine hair-filled crest and arm “collar” was reinstalled,
loosely stitched with linen twine awaiting amendment.
It was amended just below using polished coir
in order to add resilience to the historic roll.
Even in well-kept upholstery, some losses occur to fibers:
they break, powder, and sift through their encasements.
The serpentine crest and arm roll
were fully lashed using linen twine.
Note the definition of the contours and sloping lines,
running down to the hair pod.
The original inside back second stuffings
(cleaned and teased), was set into the conserved form.
Mitchell left the historic flocked wadding on the hair surface
so the evidence of period materials would be available for future generations.
The second stuffings were lashed into place using linen twine.
Notice the attention paid to using the historic lashing patterns,
easily seen on the outside back of the foundational hessian.
Tufting began using a 5 oz finely woven hemp hessian.
The patterns taken earlier were applied and adjusted to the conserved form.
Mitchell did not want to return the chair’s back in the form
in which our client was familiar, but rather the historic form.
(BTW our client was appraised and excited about these prospects,
but it is always advised to discuss before changing the form of a familiar chair!)
Above, the beginning stages of tufting
showing the elevations and folds defined,
but before Mitchell buttoned the tufts.
Tufts were held in place with 5 ply linen twine knotted
to the back foundational membrane.
In the first image, the muslin was pulled over the crest
and a running stitch installed to secure.
In the second image, note the anchor point for buttoning
was knotted to the foundational membrane.
The inside back muslin was also secured around each arm,
and the buttons continue onto the inside arms.
The gully continued to be defined as a decorative element.
Mitchell attached the inside arm muslin to the form
defining the final arm top and final button placement.
The outside back and outside arms will be completed
after the showcover and buttoning is complete on the inside back and arms.
With that, we move to the the showcover, next post!
An overview of the process, from one vantage point, below.
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