|American Victorian Louis XV Bergere circa 1850|
You may have read my post recently about how modern museum methods are causing traditional upholstery methods to be lost and the craft of upholsterer subjugated to that of the frame maker. As I was working on restoring upholstery I thought it would be a good educational post to demonstrate how I approach conserving upholstery in my business.
I had to recover two English Georgian Lolling Chairs, an early crewel wing chair, some embossed leather Belgium side chairs and a nicely made circular Victorian bergere chair. All of these are now completed and the last one, the Victorian chair, provided me with detailed step-by-step photos of the seat conservation.
In general, I follow as close as possible the methods used by the original upholsterer , conserving the springs and stuffing material, except the cotton batting. I replace the damaged elements using materials which are as close as possible. Jute webbing, spring cord and twine, burlap, muslin and cotton batting are added as required. If necessary, new 100% sterilized horsehair is added where previous stuffing was lost.
Here is a photo sequence of the procedure as it normally happens:
|Replaced Jute Webbing|
|Evidence of Original Webbing|
|Back Foundation Still Good Condition|
|Torn Burlap/Hair Dislodged|
|Previous Conservation Stitching|
|Back Layers/Original Burlap and Stitching|
|White Hair added by Previous Conservation|
|Original Burlap/Spring Cord/Twine|
|Seat Foundation Removed/White Hair Added Previously|
|Underneath Seat Foundation|
It can be cleaned with a vacuum or actually washed and dried using TileX as a detergent. If necessary it can be fumigated by a professional.
|Original Spring Cord Undisturbed|
|Back Foundation Stitching Original|
|Same Mark on Seat Frame|
|Cleaning With Alcohol/ Fresh Shellac Added|
|Springs Sewn to Jute Webbing (4 knot)|
|Springs Sewn to Webbing|
|Original Spring Cord Pattern (8 knot)|
|Note Method of Holding Springs|
|New Cord Added over Old (8 knot)|
|This Will Last a Century More|
|New Burlap Cut to Fit Around Arms|
|New Burlap Sewn To Springs|
|Lead Weight Holds Seat in Place for Tacking|
|Seat Conserved Ready for Fabric Selection|
POSTSCRIPT: After some time the client finally came in to select the final fabric. I have kept surplus upholstery fabric from jobs over the past 40 years. It is getting difficult these days to find traditional material and anything made with natural threads, like cotton, silk, linen and wool. This client selected a wonderful imprinted silk fabric, in a light green color. I had enough to do the chair.
I should point out that tub chairs with deeply curved backs are fairly difficult to cover without wrinkles. You need to pull the tension evenly top to bottom as you work your way around the curve.
Here is the final result:
|Ready to go home.|