by LIFE NOSTALGIC on MARCH 5, 2013
Week 1 of the “Simple Upholstery” course I’m taking at The Makehouse can be summarized by the following word: ICK!!!!!!!!
Not because of the course itself – oh no, so far it’s great fun.
But when you discover what kind of crusties are hiding beneath the cushion of an old chair, you may find yourself gagging, wincing and/or screaming.
Let me back up.
My project is to re-upholster these four dining room chairs. Two were given to me by my dad’s girlfriend and another matching pair were found at a garage sale. I also plan on refinishing them so that I’ll have a (mostly) matching set.
When I was in the UK in January I picked up this strawberry fabric from Cath Kidstonspecifically for this project (this exact pattern doesn’t seem to be available online but I absolutely love this and this too!). I know, I know – it’s white. Not exactly the best colour for what will essentially be an ass landing mat, but I will not be swayed! I figure I can always redo them once I learn the skills.
When I arrived, The Makehouse was bustling with activity, and three chairs were on the verge of going into surgery. Here they are with their respective surgeons:
Instructor Miro started by going around and giving us all an individual diagnosis. Some of us (me) have the unfortunate task of having to glue together some unstable aspects of our chairs between this week and next.
The universal first step, however, was peeling back the skin and seeing what gore lay beneath our seats. It was fascinating to see how much variation there was. This was the oldest chair in the course and it contained springs as well was horse hair.
Others found organic material (Miro said this stuff was similar to seaweed).
This disgusting foam looks more like a chunk of cinder toffee than anything.
Everyone had to painstakingly remove the tacks and/or staples that held the yucky old upholstery together.
Mine was by far the crappiest chair in the room and it took me a while to get over the profound chair envy. I have concocted a master plan to somehow acquire a better chair before the course is finished but for now I do need to get these chairs functioning.
Beneath the first layer of fabric was a 1960s-era fabric that had seen better days. My dad’s girlfriend had warned me about this – I bet she’s laughing now.
As I began lifting the tacks, a gross wave of crud started seeping out from beneath the fabric. I’m still not sure if it was dirt or disintegrated foam, and I’m not sure if I want to know!
Here’s the completed dissection – that’ll make you think twice about NOT recovering antique chairs.
Into the garbage it went, all of it.
My chairs have a plywood base, but those who had webbing tightened it up.
Everybody’s foam was toast – Miro is ordering up a slab of brand new foam and we’ll be diving into that next week. In the meantime, I’m looking at all chairs with suspicion.
If you live in Victoria and think you’d like to take this upholstery class, there’s one starting in April.