Mason Monterey Club Chair

This begins several pages on the preservation of a lovely
Old Wood Mason Monterey Club chair that has been in our client’s family.

It has been reupholstered once with elk hides, but the original cushions are intact.
As we uncover the frame, we found the history of the fabrics and covering intact.

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Our chair shown 360-degrees, above.

When we start excavation
we also formally assess
the chair again as we are removing the upholstery, stuffings and buildup.
For instance, there was tacking outside the
upholstery margin, above;
we do not know why.

Webbing and springs
were missing from the seat deck, shown right.
Mitchell removed the outside back fabric, below, and
began the excavation with
the front of the back frame.

As we excavate the back frame, we find both original and newer additions,
and Mitchell can tell which is which.  In the fifth image and below right you see a lumbar support, which was an upholsterer’s attempt to shape the lumbar inappropriately.

A bit of the original fabric was used as a barrier.
Later you will see they also modified the frame to tilt the lumbar.
(Mitchell will repair the modification and return it to the proper original intent.).

The chair is turned on its back.

The burlap and webbing are removed.

The seat is excavated, saving parts to assist with patterns.

Much of the original material is intact under the newer elk hide.
We will save and reuse or save as part of the history of the chair…
and sew the label back into place!

The frame is laid bare, and final assessments are made.

In the second through seventh images above you can see that the lower back lumbar support was twisted and nailed in a manner that is not original.
This change was created by someone wanting to make the lumbar more
comfortable who did not know how to upholster correctly,
and will be returned to the original position and upholstered correctly.

The Old Wood finish is deteriorating.  If the finish were in good condition and simply distressed, we would not have tried to preserve it with a topcoat, however, it was flaking and would continue to do so in a more exacerbated fashion now that it is going to be used again, so we will top coat the finish to seal and preserve it.

The original Old Wood finish is deteriorated.

If the finish were in good condition and simply distressed,
we would not have tried to preserve it with a topcoat but left it as is;
however, it was crackled (which we  like) and flaking large pieces
around the arm tops and front legs.  It would continue to do so in a
more exacerbated fashion now that it is going to be used again.
We added a slightly pigmented top coat to seal and preserve the original finish.

We cleaned the original finish using a mild soap and water.

The entire finish is
gently scuffed to loosen
bits of oil paint that are already lifted and to
provide a slightly rough texture over which to paint.

We have test boards
from earlier projects, and paint to match is created
from our formulas.
We want a thin glaze to
just seal and protect the original deteriorating finish.

I prefer a larger fine arts brush, in this case 1-inch.  I can access cracks without drips
and in the long run it moves faster than clean up from a big brush.

The inappropriately placed decorative nails and the overreaching second generation upholstery left tattered holes where some previously ripped out, and clean holes
from our excavation of tacks and decorative nails, all needing to be filled.
We used a bit of thick paint to fill on top of the topcoat.

Above, the topcoat in comparison to the original deteriorating finish
before it was fully cured to be scuffed (so slightly shinier than we want it!)

10 days allowed the
oil paint to cure before
we could slightly
dull the finish.

After curing, the entire
chair was scuffed to match
the original patina. This had the added benefit of allowing us to test the adhesion
of the topcoat in holding
original finish in place.

Along the side splats the original finish was quite
shiny, and so we left it as it was in the before images.

We begin the buildup by installing new webbing and springs to create the Spring Deck
after the finish is fully cured and scuffed to the proper patina.

The spring tie is completed, above.

Mitchell discusses the challenges in the way the springs were
originally laid out on the small spring deck, above.

Mitchell discusses how to work around the corner blocks, above.

Details of the spring ties, above.

Mitchell discusses the finished spring deck, above.

The spring deck is covered with the burlap topper;
the springs are secured to the topper.

Mitchell repaired the original edgeroll, and covered it in
fresh burlap before stitching to the deck, above:
details of decisions about the way the edgeroll interacted with the frame
were partly made by the original upholsterers.

The completed Spring Deck, above.
The back buildup and upholstery occur after the seat deck upholstery.

It is always wonderful to find the original tags to verify the origination of the piece.
It was made by the Mason Mfg. Co. of Los Angeles, California
finished March 1 1935… Style #8/83, Serial #2390…
the cover was #603B, and they said it was 80% cotton (50/50)
and 20% a sisal fiber pad…
They do not mention the hair, of which there was plenty!
Of course we also know it had Spring-filled cushions
but perhaps these were not important for import/export/shipping.
These will be preserved in the envelope crated under the seat.

In this case, when we talk upholstery we are speaking of upholstering the frame;
a bit later on we will upholster the cushions in the two showcovers,
leather and a fun fabric that George Mason would have enjoyed!

Because this piece is a creation from the American Depression Era,
we chose to use an upholstery form that we coined “traditional-modern” upholstery.
It is the combining and placement of traditional natural fiber stuffings and
lashing techniques, coupled with modern, machine-made, per-fabricated edgerolls.

The leather showcover on the seat was sewn and readied…
I love the pretty hemp cloth used in the center and wish we could get more
but it is discontinued.  Beautiful under-cloths!

Seat buildup using various hairs, organic cotton, coir, and finally the leather.

The inside back, above:
both the seat and the inside back will be covered by cushions.

The outside back, above.

In the second image you can see both the dustcover
and also the outside back showcover fabric is tacked onto the top rail.

Note the leather trim that surrounds the outside back, and the leather strip used as
a trim with decorative nails spaced around the bottom to match the front of the chair,
which can also be seen below along the front edge.

Final step, we flip the chair over and apply the dustcover.
Our dustcovers are special, with a hiding place for valuables or memories.

The historic cushions placed onto the newly upholstered frame, above.
Mitchell took notes on any changes he might want to make.

We began with the inside back cushion.

The cushion was carefully excavated, and each layer was inspected and considered for reuse where possible.  Those parts that were able to be reused were cleaned and/or carded.

A new ticking was created, and the new buildup of both historic and new materials executed into a new inside back cushion, ready for its showcover.

The same process was performed for the seat cushion, above, except that a new seat cushion was created to replace the old as the historic springs were quite worn.
In the last image above you can see the new cushion height compared to the old.

Once the cushions were rebuilt, the show cover was upholstered.

The showcover is a richly embroidered landscape of critter activities!
Mitchell cut the cushion upholstery to make sure that in each cushion,
all the critters and flowers were represented.

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The boxings and small edging was made of the same leather that
upholstered the frame, and the underside of the cushion was also leather,
so the chair has the possibility of being seen in three ways, below.

The chair is now ready for another 75 years of love!

Below, a slide show from beginning to end!

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