Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Tale of a Chair

I stalk furniture-makeover blogs. I admit it. I'm a stalker. There's nothing I like better than a good before-and-after post. So I'm making my own contribution to the genre here with this little gentlewoman in distressed circumstances.

Her story is a sad one, but it has a happy ending, as you can see.


Unfortunately I don't have any of the before-before pictures, as I bought the chair sometime while we were in California at a flea-market and I wasn't planning on blogging about it. Originally it was actually three chairs - well, parts of three chairs. One was nearly complete, one was about half a chair, and the rest were various bits and pieces from at least one other. I bought it for, I think, $5 (it may have been $5 per chair, but as I said it was a while ago). I left it with my parents, since they had a lot more storage on the farm than we had in our apartment, until not long before we had to pack up to move back to England. One weekend while I was visiting I got all the bits out and Dad helped me make one solid chair out of the wreckage. We salvaged the best pieces and I seem to remember that the seat and one arm/leg combo went together, we took the other arm/leg from the second chair and the back was one of the loose bits from the "third" chair that came with it. I really wish I'd taken pictures of it all the way I found it. We had to do a lot of drilling, hammering and gluing but I finally had a chair. Sort of.
 
When I bought it I had in mind that it could be a chair to take to SCA events but it's solid wood, and not a light-weight. It also needed a lot of cosmetic work as it was pretty bashed about, and ripped black vinyl is so not me.

The first thing I did was unscrew and pry off the padding from the back and seat. What was left wasn't pretty. Glue and grunge.
I filled a few holes and then sanded the wood just enough to knock off the remnants of glue and to take down the shine.
Then I gave it two coats of chalk paint made from Plaster of Paris and a $2 quart of oops paint I got from Home Depot. It wasn't the best to make chalk paint out of as it was a paint/primer combo enamel rather than a flat paint, but it was $2 so I went with it.
I only distressed it a little as David hasn't got his head round the whole "shabby chic" thing yet. I sanded it in places where it would look natural so it's fairly subtle. I finished it off with a coat of Minwax Finishing Wax and buffed it up.
I have been wanting to try upholstering with painters' drop cloth, as everyone in DIY-blogland has been doing. I also wanted script fabric, but not in French, which is the rage, because I don't speak French and, beautiful as it is, I wanted something that means something to me. So I found a font I like (based on Jane Austen's handwriting no less) and printed out a large "Rest" for the back. I traced the word onto freezer paper and then cut it out as a stencil.
I wanted it to look like old ink on parchment so I used chocolate brown fabric paint and dabbed it over the stencil.
For the seat I found a number of quotes I liked about rest and relaxation, typed them up in the Jane Austen font, and then printed them out onto four sheets of paper, which made it just about the right size to cover the seat cushion.  To get the words onto the fabric I printed them backwards and then used the Citrasolv transfer method. I started at the top and by the time I got to the bottom I was pretty tired of rubbing that spoon over the paper so the ink didn't transfer very well there. I then went over the transferred letters with a fine paintbrush and the brown fabric paint so it would match the back.
I'd ripped the vinyl off the seat and the plaque that screws into the back so I stapled the dropcloth over the existing foam and screwed the back and seat on.
 And here she is in all her impoverished-gentry glory.
Everything you see in this photo, with the exception of the lampshade and the alabaster bowl, was bought from a thrift store/flea-market/charity shop/car-boot sale or was a gift. (The bowl was bought at the Khan el-Khalili in Cairo and is a souvenir of our trip to Egypt last year).

I still have to make piping to go around the seat and the back plaque but my sewing machine is somewhere in all of this -


and I needed the seating when we had guests over so it will have to wait until I can get the dumping ground my workroom organized. Sigh.

PS - on the plus side, I recently found this desk for $10, which also needs an overhaul, to use as a sewing table (if I can ever get to it).



Wendy


Sharing at Kathe with an E, No Minimalist Here, AttaGirlSaysNot Just a HousewifeSavvy Southern StyleKnick of TimeRedoux, Jennifer Rizzo, Miss Mustard Seed, Funky Junk Interiors, Pretty Handy Girl

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22 comments:

  1. I am so impressed. I have recently been looking at shabby chic furniture in admiration. Not sure I have the skills to do it myself though! You are a woman of many talents! Anthea x

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  2. Thanks so much Anthea. It's really not hard - just a matter of giving it a try and then practice! There are so many tutorials out there, either on blogs or youtube and so many cheap pieces of furniture at thrift stores. Start on something small, like a decorative box or a picture frame if you are really nervous, or a kitchen chair - you can always donate it back if you don't like the way it turned out.

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  3. Wendy, I love everything about your chair!I love that it's assembled from 3 broken chairs, I love the use of script - especially that it is Jane Austen script and the "rest" theme is just perfect! To top it all off, it is a lovely chair, and a very unique design. Hey - your work room looks about like my work room! I'm still taking boxes in there, too, and haven't begun organizing yet. Maybe this long weekend...
    -Revi

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  4. Thanks so much Revi. I love having a piece that's truly personalized (and unique). And I'm hoping to get some organizing done in my workroom this weekend too. My cleaner Robin is scheduled to come tomorrow so I'm going to get her to help me move everything into the guest room so I can bring things back in a little at a time and it won't feel quite so overwhelming.

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  5. A special piece! And GORGEOUS transformation. LOVE LOVE LOVE it!

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  6. Amazing job! I would love to include this in a roundup I am putting together, which will be posted on my blog. I will just grab a picture and give you a link back. If you'd prefer that I didn't use this project, please email me at nancy.verly@gmail.com

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    Replies
    1. That would be lovely Nancy, thanks! Let me know when you post so I can have a peek and link back to you.

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  7. Such an unusual chair, that's what I love about it. You did such a fantastic job of renewing her life. Bravo. I guess people in England buy redone furniture also from bloggers? Blogging seems to be quite an occupation now. The home crafter/redoer is very popular in tv, magazines, you name it. That's wonderful as you all work very hard at what you do besides being wives, Mothers, friends, etc. A lot to do and be.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for your kind comment. Yes, there do seem to be a lot of very crafty people out there and they are so inspirational. I'm a bit envious those who can make a living out of it - I have to fit mine in while working a full time and a part time job.

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  8. I love, love, love the script you added to the fabric - stunning makeover! I'm featuring you tonight at Knick of Time Tuesday and pinned you on my Knick of Time Tuesday Pinterest page! Thanks for sharing at the party!

    http://pinterest.com/knickoftime/knick-of-time-tuesday-vintage-style-party-features/

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    1. Thank you so much Angie! How exciting!

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  9. Love it, what a transformation and a terrific idea such an inspiration.

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  10. Hi Wendy,
    Found your incredible talent via Knick of Time. Beautiful transformation of this chair. I like the fact that you created your own vintage font text. Jane would be proud! Now following you, and invite you over to my blog, Altered Artworks, for a cup of tea. Hope to see you soon,
    Doreen
    http://altered-artworks.blogspot.com

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    1. Thanks so much for your sweet comments Doreen. Popping over to your blog now :)

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  11. Wendy, I'm in love with this chair transformation! So beautiful and so "restful."

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    1. Ha ha, thanks so much Brittany. Can I fan-girl all over you? I love your blog!

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  12. I like the shape of your new chair and you did a great job on it
    I have to say my studio is a mess but girl you got me beat and I am so glad LOL
    I thought every blogger but me kept a neat studio/work area LOL

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    1. Sometimes it's comforting to know you're not the only one, isn't it :)

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  13. Oh, thank you SOOOO much for this! Not only do I just adore your chair, but now I know there is at least one other person out there, whose 'work space' needs as much work as my own. (we won't tell the rest of the world just how generous I'm being to myself, ok?)

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