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Listening to Chairs...

A friend of mine, Colleen (Moonfaeirie Designs) always calls me "the chair-whisperer" and that makes me chuckle. I love traditional chairs and their history, but sometimes a chair will evoke a different sense of design for me. It depends, most times...on the condition of the chair and how much time I have, or if it inspires the artist in me. Take these two for example:

They are beautiful chairs. Solid Oak with lots of detail. But a lot of people don't know how to repair chairs so they do what they can do to just make them "functional", which meant putting galvanized sheeting or pressboard with BIG NAILS that rust, over the seat. These chairs would have been produced after 1930's-40's as they were press cane (goes in as a sheet) instead of hand-cane (holes around the perimeter and woven starnd by strand) seats.

When I looked at them the beading reminded me of some of my Native American jewlery I got when I was living in Oklahoma and spent 3 1/2 years out West. I had turquoise paint (eggshell) that I added plaster of paris and water to (1/2 c. plaster of paris, 1/2 c. water,combined and then added to 1 c. of paint) to make chalk paint.

The chairs were prepped by filling the rusty holes with plastic wood (gah!) and sanded. A couple other spots that had cosmetic damage got the same treatment. After sanding them with 120 grit paper, I deglossed the whole chair using "liquid deglosser" which gives the paint some "tooth" to adhere to. Having been a painter (interior and exterior of houses) and wallpaper hanger for 10 years in my younger days,I have a large array of products I know of that expedites the process. Sanding all those surfaces would have taken quite a while. A small amount of this liquid goes a long way.

On to the paint!

After painting the chairs with 2 coats, I used a McCloskey Platinum Glaze coat over the entire chair. This makes the grain in the chairs show through nicely and gives the whole chair a nice subtle "sparkle". After some drying time, I went back and embellished the details with a heavier coat of glaze using an artists' sable brush. When this dried, the chairs got a sealant coat of Tung Oil.

And then the CANE! Press cane (machine-woven cane) is soaked, tapped with wedges into the channel that goes around the seat, cut off, and spline is tapped into place after glue has gone into the channel. The spline is made of a wedge shaped reed that comes in different sizes and lengths. If you are looking for materials I suggest HH Perkins in North Haven CT. You can shop there or online.

Many thanks to Northampton ReUse for letting me give these chairs a new life! These were from their new ReCenter in Northampton, MA. It is a wonderful venue that accepts useable items that people don't need (or can't fix) anymore. I hope to be doing some free workshops for them soon to let people know how they can do their own repairs. I'm happy to have been reinspired last year by The SeatWeavers Guild who's motto is "Preserving & perpetuating the craft of chair caning and seat weaving!"

If you would like to see these chairs (and many more!) they will be at The Vintage Market - Salem, CT this Saturday, June 27. My wonderful friend Colleen willalso be there with her Vintage Aprons and upcycled jewelry from Moonfaerie Designs. Hope to see you there!

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