Our client purchased the wingback chair designed by Jerry Lamb, a Portland Oregon antique dealer and interior designer.
We were to do a full restoration, down to the frame, with a goal of improving upon its comfort level. We also were to use both traditional and modern methods in the execution of its upholstery buildup.
Therefore, this chair is an upholstery hybrid.
We changed the showcover to a lively colorful dragon motif trapunto from Kravet.
While waiting for restoration, it was a frequent favorite of the studio cats; Savitri shown in a regal pose, above right. BTW, our cats submit to nail clippings every Wednesday evening, and before our cats are allowed around upholstery projects we make sure our clients have no allergies; ours have cats.
Above, we began our excavation by turning the chair upside down and removing the old dustcover, exposing the webbing. Furniture is excavated in the reverse order it was upholstered.
Two items were found under the dustcover; we do not know their significance.
As we removed the outside back, two items were noted.
The previous upholsterer used ®Ply-grip on the contoured edges instead of hand-stitching; we will hand-stitch the back into place.
Also, fabric remnants were used as dustmembranes.
Excavation images, above. Right, a detail of the original stuffing buildup (all prefabricated materials) when we first loosened the front seat apron, revealing the layers of synthetic buildup for the first time.
Mitchell took images and notes of what was used and how the original buildup was performed.
The alder legs were quite chingered, examples in the first two images above.
We scuffed the original finish (third and fourth images).
Mitchell created a shellac infused with a dye to balance the losses without changing the nature of the intended finish choice, which was a semi-transparent stain. The final coats were a platina shellac.
Leg after finish process, final image above.
The chair frame is repaired and ready to begin the buildup, above right.
In all cases throughout the project, we repaired tack and other holes
as necessary using hard picks and PVA glue or hide glue.
Turning the chair over, we began with new 11 lb jute webbing, above, basket-woven and tacked into the underside of the frame.
The chair was turned over, left, for the seat buildup.
In the images above, the springs are set in before the tie-down for design consideration. We replaced the front springs, using a taller, and higher gauge spring than the original. We wanted the center of gravity to drop back and in, rather than slipping forward and out, as it did previously.
We reused the rear original seat springs.
Mitchell used a double four-way tie using linen waxed spring twine, steps shown above:
- Lashed springs to the seat webbing using linen twine;
- Tie vertical springs;
- Tie horizontal springs.
Shown right, the springs from underneath, tied to the webbing.
The hessian spring topper was tacked to the frame. Because the chair is a modern chair, we used manufactured edgeroll as might have been used in a good upholstery project from this period. Note the positioning of the seat edgeroll cantilevered in order to achieve more significant depth in the seat.
The hessian was stitched using a Holbein Stitch.
No springs were used previously in the inside back.
We set light gauge coil spring into the inside back in order to establish comfort.
Because of the exaggerated hourglass shape of the inside back, it was not possible to set an additional line of coil springs into the extremities, therefore, light gauge cushion springs were adapted to fill the voids of the contours in the extremities.
Additionally, a prefabricate jute-filled thick edgeroll was secured to the extremities in order to fill the excessive voids inherent in the hourglass-shaped design.
Below, a hessian spring topper covers the springs, then is secured to the hessian using a Holbien stitch.
Patterns were taken at intervals along the process.
Patterns shown below for cutting the pincore latex.
Note the stretchers glued to the latex to be used as pulls, last image below.
Layers of seat buildup, above:
- coir, lashed into place around edges;
- center of organic cotton;
- hair added and stitched into place overlapping the coir edge;
- topper of pincore latex;
- front contour of cotton;
- layer of white cotton muslin.
The chair was set onto its back, left, for buildup on the inside back, below.
As with the seat:
- coir is again lashed into place around edges;
- center of organic cotton to ensure the lumbar and dorsal spine can drop into a more comfortable position;
- hair added and stitched across the intire inside back;
- topper of pincore latex;
- cotton topper;
- layer of white cotton muslin.
Each inside arm was built as follows:
- A foundational layer of jute webbing and hessian topper attached to the frame;
- A roll of teased coir was lashed to the hessian;
- A latex rubber slab was installed along the arm top frame as a filler to rectify disparate elevations and ensure elbow comfort;
- A jute-filled hessian-covered prefabricated edgeroll was attached to the front arm contour;
- A tracing was taken of the armfront on a transparency to be used for both the muslin ticking and the showcover;
- A sheet of pincore latex was added;
- A layer of needled cotton batting was placed on the contoured arm front;
- A layer of staple cotton was placed over the top of the entire arm;
- and prior to the showcover a cotton muslin ticking protected the internals.
FINALLY, THE SHOWCOVER IS APPLIED!
The Tibetan inspired Dragon trapunto from Kravet, shown above, sits in a staggered “grid” of roughly 18-inches apart in a field of Tibetan-inspired clouds with sprinklings of organic floral/leaf patterns. To place this pattern on an undulating frame form as the showcover was a challenge.
Three things Mitchell kept in mind when placing the Dragon motif:
- To ensure elevation balance, easily seen in the front apron, right;
- To create what appeared a natural flow for the motif over the components of the chair; and
- To ensure the centralized motif of the Dragon was featured whenever possible and artistically balanced.
We also thought about the motif patterns the person sitting might see around them on the chair, versus the person sitting across from the chair or approaching the chair.
Yaman oversees and makes the deciding calls on placement, above left. Little shop panthers know everything!
We began with the seat. A topper of cotton batting, right, is always laid between the muslin topper and the showcover on all parts for the longevity of the showcover fabric.
The showcover pattern was cut for the seat to cascade down the front apron and wrap the corners, laying the Dragon in the center of the front and on each corner, shown above. On the seat itself are two Dragons flanking the sides, and this will play into the arms later on in the process.
The showcover fabric was cut for the inside and outside back, shown below, and the side arms. The cut showcover fabric was overcast, above right.
Stretchers were placed on each of the various pattern parts, example above right.
Edging was cut from orange silk velvet Scalamandre Colony fabric, shown right, and sewn around 10/32 cotton cording.
Transparent patterns were taken off each arm, above.
As with each part, the showcover pattern was cut from the arm pattern, pinned and hand-stitched onto the front, images one and two above. Care was taken to center a Dragon on the top of each arm so that it is seen when a person is sitting in the chair, shown below.
The orange cording was placed, pinned and hand-stitched to the front, image three above.
The showcover for the body of the arm was cut, pinned into place, and hand-stitched then pulled through using stretchers just to the point where the trapunto still had loft and body but laid properly.
Left, the right-facing arm completed.
Note: These steps were used for each part of the chair’s body, shown below. The parts were not shown in true order, as it was not just a matter of doing this part then that part, as they were intertwined. For the sake of simplicity, we will show the parts as if they were done in one layered process.
Chair inside back, above.
The steps of the inside of each wing shown above.
The front apron is built with additional cotton batting, above and right.
The steps of the outside of each wing, shown above.
The outside back, above. Final edging hand-stitched, right.
The chair is finally flipped over to add the dustcover to the bottom, above.
The chair is completed, right and below.
After treatment, from overhead, above.
A few images of the chair after treatment above.
A 360-degree view slideshow, below, plus a cascade of details which allow you to see the superior pattern matching care Mitchell takes in our upholstery projects, one of which is shown right. Note the Dragon’s foot on the outside back which is an extension of the side panel!
A slideshow of the entire process from start to completion, below.
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A very unique looking chair, but you took it from drab to fab. I hope the owner loved it!
They did — they are great clients!