Every chair tells a story …
Every chair that comes into my workshop has a tale to tell. This is slowly revealed as I strip off the layers of fabrics and padding to restore it back to something that will become loved once more.
Whilst working on a piece they often give me a glimpse into their past. Previous fabrics give you clues as to the last time it was upholstered. Sometimes, there are manufacturer’s stamps telling you where and when they were made.
Like this little prie dieu or prayer chair, which dates from 1921. The 6th October to be exact. French upholsterers nearly always chalk or carve their name and a date onto the frame. It’s always a pleasure to find such details. This chair comes from Arras in northern France and has been a loved and well used piece of furniture.
Which led me to wonder who owned it previously as they obviously had done a lot of praying. What trials and tribulations did the owner’s family go though during World War II? And how did it end up in Stamford, Lincolnshire of all places? Sadly, we will never know.
A little bit of TLC …
I found the original horse hair upholstery underneath, together with a lot of dust and some interesting repairs to the frame.
The woodwork was badly marked so Tim, my glamorous assistant, carefully sanded it down to remove the old, battered varnish. Then we mixed a bespoke dye mix to get it as close to the original colour as possible. We didn’t want it to look brand spanking new, so we kept most of the dings and dents as they were, after all, they are part of the chair’s story.
When we were happy with finish, I then re-upholstered the back and the seat using traditional methods.
A Hare, a Moon, a Tree and a Prayer
I love to blend art with upholstery and I decided to make the use of the height on this antique prie dieu. I will be honest, I have a thing about moon gazing hares, I find them magical. Hence this simple, but whimsical design of a full moon, a tree and a sweet little hare gazing up at the moon. Small silver leaf charms have been used for the leaves of the tree, each one carefully hand sewn into place.
I have used a luxurious, navy blue velvet to cover the chair with a white velvet for the moon and hare. And to add a bit of a contemporary twist, silver studs decorate the front edge.
A Future Heirloom
An utterly unique design, never to be repeated. This is now a chair to be treasured forever ~ something to be passed onto the next generation. In true French fashion, I have chalked on the frame my name, date and location and I wonder who will find these details in the future?
I seem to do a lot of wondering …